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Wood Not To Use For Cutting Boards

Making an informed choice is crucial when selecting the perfect wood for cutting boards. While wood offers a natural and aesthetic appeal, not all wood types suit this purpose. Using the wrong wood for cutting boards can have detrimental consequences, compromising the durability and safety of your kitchen tools.

First, avoiding softwoods with large pores, like redwood spruce or western red cedar, is essential in wood cutting boards. Although appealing, these wood boards are highly porous and prone to absorbing liquids. This characteristic makes them unsuitable for cutting boards as they can quickly harbor bacteria and won’t remain stain free.

Open-grained woods, like red oak, should also be avoided because they tend to trap food particles and knife marks, creating an unhygienic environment for food preparation. To ensure the longevity and safety of your cutting boards, opt for a hard wood for cutting boards that comprise tight grain patterns. Woods like hard maple and black walnut offer excellent cutting surfaces because of their high density and minimal porosity.

cutting board

They are also resistant to the knife blade while keeping knives sharp. Treat your cutting boards with food-grade mineral oils like coconut or walnut oil for added protection and maintenance. These oils provide an amber-yellow surface to enhance the beauty of the wood and add a layer of defense against moisture.

In our guide, you can learn more about choosing suitable wood for cutting boards. By the end, you’ll better understand why to avoid softwoods and open-grained varieties and opt for hardwoods with tight grain patterns. (Read Loud Thump Sound In House)

Why A High-Quality Board Is So Important?

Investing in a high-quality cutting board is essential for anyone passionate about food preparation and culinary excellence. A well-crafted cutting board made from the right wood species can significantly impact your cooking experience.

The choice of wood is paramount. Opting for hardwoods like hard maple or black walnut ensures a durable and impact-resistant surface to withstand sharp knife cuts without showing signs of wear. A tight grain pattern is vital to stop boards from absorbing liquids, harboring bacteria, or to stain easily. A durable hardwood offers the advantage of longevity, providing a reliable cutting surface that will last for years.

Characteristics of cutting boards:

Regarding cutting boards, not all materials are created equal. Hardwoods for cutting boards are preferred because of their durability and resistance to damage. These woods are also great for butcher blocks since they can withstand heavy use.

Another essential characteristic is its thickness. A thicker board will provide more stability and prevent warping. A minimum thickness of one inch is recommended for everyday home use. Last, consider the upkeep required for your chosen cutting board material. Wooden boards need to be regularly oiled or conditioned to prevent drying out and cracking.


One concern with wooden cutting boards is their potential to stain. When wood comes into contact with acidic foods like lemon and vinegar, it can cause a chemical reaction that leads to discoloration. This makes the board look unsightly and can be a breeding ground for bacteria if left uncleaned.

Another issue is they may be made from toxic woods where compounds are dangerous for food preparation. For example, certain species of tropical hardwoods, like teak or rosewood, contain oils to cause an allergic reaction and may even be carcinogenic. (Read Fridge Not Making Noise But Light On)

Janka Hardness Scale

The Janka hardness rating measures a wood’s resistance to denting and wear. They do this to see how chopping boards or other woods withstand pressure from a steel ball. The higher the rating, the harder and more durable the wood. It’s important to note that some tropical hardwoods with high Janka ratings may be illegal or unsustainable because of deforestation concerns.

Porosity Of Wood Grain

old wooden cutting board

Porosity is the space or pores in the wood grain. This affects how much moisture and bacteria can seep into the board. Wood with open pores tends to absorb more liquid than dense hardwoods, which are relatively non-porous in comparison.

Other types of wood that are softwoods like pine, spruce, Douglas fir, and cedar have large open pores that make them unsuitable for use as cutting boards.

Sustainability And Eco-Friendliness

When choosing the ideal wood for cutting boards, consider sustainability and eco-friendliness. Some woods can harm the environment, while others are more sustainable. For instance, tropical hardwoods like teak and rosewood are highly durable but unsuitable for cutting boards because of their slow growth rate and high demand.

Some softwoods wear out quickly and require frequent replacement, which is not cost-effective or environmentally friendly. Other hardwoods like maple or walnut are dense, stable, and resistant to warping or cracking.

14 Woods Not to Use for Cutting Boards

  • Rosewood
  • Western Red Cedar
  • Balsa
  • American Mahogany
  • Teak
  • Birch
  • Oak
  • Mahogany
  • Cedar
  • Butternut
  • Black Walnut
  • Juniper Tree
  • Redwood Spruce
  • Ash

Some characteristics listed below make some wood unsuitable:

  • Porous Wood implies it can absorb bacteria, which can then spread to food.
  • Cleaning wood can be challenging. The wood’s pores are a perfect place for bacteria to hide, making cleanup difficult.
  • Knives can become dull: Knives may get caught in the grain of your chopping block.
  • Poor Heat Resistance: A hot pan will likely harm a wooden cutting board if placed on it.
  • Wood may be slippery: This may make it challenging to keep food on the cutting board while you’re cutting.

Considerations When Choosing The Best Wood For Cutting Board

The choice of wood for your cutting board depends on your preferences and how much maintenance you’re willing to put into it.

  1. Color: The color of the wood can be a personal preference or a design consideration for your kitchen. Woods like walnut offer rich dark hues, while hard maple provides a lighter, more natural tone. Considering the color of the wood allows you to match it with your kitchen decor or express your style.
  2. Cost: The cost of the wood is an essential factor to consider. Exotic woods may be more expensive, while domestic hardwoods like hard maple or oak can be more budget-friendly. Balancing your desired wood type with your budget is vital to find the right choice.
  3. Aesthetics: The wood’s aesthetics contribute to the cutting board’s overall appeal. Different wood species have unique grain patterns and textures, which can add visual interest and enhance the beauty of your kitchen. The aesthetics allow you to select a wood that aligns with your desired look and feel.
  4. Usage: Understanding how you plan to use the cutting board is crucial. Some woods are better suited for heavy chopping and cutting, while others are more suitable for light slicing and serving. Consider the usage of the cutting board and select wood to withstand the demands of your culinary activities.

Another factor to consider when choosing wood for cutting boards is whether it produces edible fruits. For example, fruit trees like apple and cherry trees yield hardwoods that are safe for food contact because they don’t contain any harmful chemicals or toxins. Avoid using wood from non-edible fruit trees like yew or oleander, which can be poisonous if ingested accidentally. (Read Best Caulk For Quartz Countertops)

Wooden vs. Plastic vs. Glass Cutting Boards

plastic cutting board

When choosing wood for the best type of cutting board, many people debate between wooden, plastic, and glass options. Wooden cutting boards are a popular choice because they are durable and attractive. They also have natural antibacterial properties that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

However, choosing suitable wood is vital. Soft woods like pine or cedar should be avoided because they can harbor bacteria in their grooves and don’t hold up well. Wooden boards must be oiled with coconut oil or similar to maintain quality.

Plastic boards are lightweight and easy to clean, making them popular for many home cooks. They come in various colors, allowing for color coding when preparing fresh foods (e.g., red for meat and green for vegetables).

Sometimes, you may find plastic cutting boards to come as reversible board. One disadvantage is plastic develops grooves from knife marks visible to the naked eye, where bacteria can accumulate if not cleaned and where they would absorb liquids. Glass cutting boards are hard and non-porous, making them easy to clean; however, they tend to dull knives quickly because of their hardness–something chefs would avoid since sharp knives produce better cuts on ingredients.

5 Best Wood Cutting Board Types

Certain woods are far better for making a cutting board. They can enhance your cooking experience and ensure the longevity and safety of your knives.

1. Beech

Beech cutting boards are popular because of their beauty and durability. Its tight grain structure makes it durable. Beech wood is strong enough to survive heavy knife use without severe cuts or grooves. Beechwood naturally resists bacterial development.

2. Walnut

Walnut wood adds a touch of sophistication to any kitchen thanks to its rich, dark brown color and striking grain patterns. Walnut wood is strong and self-healing, besides its visual attractiveness. Walnut wood’s inherent oils prevent moisture and odor absorption, making it hygienic. Its medium hardness is ideal for knife-friendliness and durability.

3. Maple

Because of its durability and versatility, chefs and foodies choose maple wood. Its tight texture resists knife marks and moisture absorption. Maple wood is light-colored and clean-looking. Maple wood is durable and easy to maintain, even with heavy use.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo cutting boards are popular for their durability and strength. Bamboo, one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, is a guilt-free resource for eco-conscious consumers. Bamboo wood is antimicrobial and eco-friendly. Its incredible density and durability make it tough enough to cut and chop.

5. Cherry

Cherry Wood stands out for its warm reddish-brown colors and exquisite grain patterns, making it a visually appealing option for cutting boards when lying flat on your counter. Cherry wood has a smooth cutting surface and is aesthetically pleasing. It resists warping and cracking, giving a long cutting board life. Cherry wood is naturally antibacterial, making food preparation clean.


Can you cut raw meat on a wooden cutting board?

Wooden cutting boards can safely cut raw meat when correctly cared for and maintained—the type of wood used for the cutting board matters. Hardwood species like maple, beech, and walnut are popular because of their density and durability.

These woods have natural antimicrobial properties that help inhibit bacterial growth on the surface. Regularly sanitize the board with hot, soapy water after each use. (Read Can You Cook Partially Frozen Ground Beef)

How thick and big should a wood cutting board be?

A thickness of around 1 to 1.5 inches offers stability and durability, preventing the board from warping over time. In terms of size, a cutting board that measures about 12×18 inches or larger provides sufficient surface area for comfortable and efficient food preparation.

Wood Not To Use For Cutting Boards