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Thread: Haven't had a good cutting board debate in a while...

  1. #1
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    Haven't had a good cutting board debate in a while...

    So, I was surprised to read in the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated that they tested cutting boards. Their previous favorite was an end grain bamboo board.

    Their complaint about the end grain boards is that they warped and and cracked and were not durable over time.

    Now this goes against my experience with my own cutting boards. I've had mine out on my counter getting used and washed regularly and it's still in great shape?

    They claimed that the end grain boards were 'thirsty' and soaked up water like crazy leading to the cracks and warping.

    So my thinking is they just didn't take care of the boards, I.e. not oiling them properly etc...

    But they do have a point I guess. If you aren't going to take proper care of an end grain board, then perhaps an edge grain board would be better?

    Here's the one they rated as the top board. 85$.

    http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equi...sp?docid=31381

    For them, the "PROTEAK Edge Grain Cutting Board" won the test.

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  2. #2
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    My experience with end grain boards that I have made is very good, as far as I know none have cracked or warped so far. I have been making and giving them as gifts for many years and as long as they are oiled regularly they hold up really well. The ones we use here are probably six years old and look like new, and they get used daily.I noticed also that in the link that you posted, they are selling "Cutting board oil" 12 oz. for $12.00 a pretty good price for what is most likely mineral oil, don't you think?
    Chuck

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Hans View Post
    I noticed also that in the link that you posted, they are selling "Cutting board oil" 12 oz. for $12.00 a pretty good price for what is most likely mineral oil, don't you think?
    Chuck
    That's pretty good profit margin on something you can pick up in the pharmacy!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    Now this goes against my experience with my own cutting boards. I've had mine out on my counter getting used and washed regularly and it's still in great shape?
    I wonder if there's a difference between shop made boards and those produced in a factory? Look what the article says:

    "The wood and bamboo models need to be oiled regularly lest they dry out and shrink, absorb too much water, split, or crack. But the fact is, most people donít oil their cutting boards with any regularity. "

    Well, I don't oil mine with any regularity. But I soaked it for two days in a mineral oil bath. It absorbed so much it bled it back out for a couple days, and I had to keep wiping it off...

    I wonder if the factory boards just get a surface wipe with oil, enough to make them pretty enough to sell, and then get shipped out the door. Seems like doing much more at the factory would add a lot of cost to what are already very pricey boards!

    Thanks,

    Bill

  5. #5
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    Do we have a good tutorial on cutting boards in the archives here on FWW? This is something I have never made, greatly appreciate the looks of all produced by you folks, don't know how to care for one, build one, what to put on it that isn't poisonous to me the user. Just a lot of thoughts sliding through my brain. Well, it is a cool 93 degrees, better go clean some barns.
    Jon

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  6. #6
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    I read that article yesterday, too, Brent, and wondered what they'd done - or not done - to abuse that $199.00 (!!!) board they no longer liked. My guess was no oil, and improper storage.

    I've got an edge grain 11" X 16" walnut and maple board (about 1-3/8" thick) that we've been using daily for about ten years, and other than the knife scratches across the face, it's still as good as new. It does get oiled with plain old mineral oil every couple months, though.
    Jim D.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    I wonder if the factory boards just get a surface wipe with oil, enough to make them pretty enough to sell, and then get shipped out the door.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    I read that article yesterday, too, Brent, and wondered what they'd done - or not done - to abuse that $199.00 (!!!) board they no longer liked. My guess was no oil, and improper storage.
    I'm going to suspect a combination of the two, and if it's in the kitchen at Cooks Illustrated, I'm sure they get a real workout.

    Jim, I've got a good sized edge grain board made out of maple as well. I probably use both boards about the same amount. The edge grain has held up really well over the years. Makes me start to wonder about all the fascination with end grain boards...
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  8. #8
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    Brent I believe the end grain boards are preferred because the knives don't cut them up as bad as the long grain boards, Both look good I think, but all that I have made have been end grain for the reason of the cutting marks.I believe it depends on the look a person wants in the end.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    Do we have a good tutorial on cutting boards in the archives here on FWW? This is something I have never made, greatly appreciate the looks of all produced by you folks, don't know how to care for one, build one, what to put on it that isn't poisonous to me the user. Just a lot of thoughts sliding through my brain. Well, it is a cool 93 degrees, better go clean some barns.
    Jon, making a cutting board is pretty straightforward. Glue some boards together then plane or sand it flat and smooth. Just about any wood will work, but tight-grained woods (maple, cherry) are better than more open-grained woods (oak, walnut). The wood can be oriented to be face grain, edge grain, or end grain, but I'd recommend against mixing the orientation. (I did an end grain board once with a face grain border. It only lasted a couple of weeks before the wood movement on the border broke the end grain part in the middle.)

    Here are a couple write-ups I've done...

    http://workingwoods.com/board_construction.htm (Not a lot of info, but it shows a couple pics. I can't get over how clean my Workmate looks in the photos.)

    http://workingwoods.com/3-D_Board_Tutorial.htm (This one is more detailed, but quite a bit more work than necessary for a plain ol' cutting board.)

    As far as what to put on them, that's a whole 'nother debate. Everyone has their favorite treatment...mine is plain mineral oil wiped on heavily, then wiped off after it has soaked in a while. When I first oil a board, I let it soak up as much as it can for a day or so, then I wipe it as dry as I can with paper towels. After that initial oiling, I just put a light coat on the board (and wipe the excess back off) whenever I notice it's looking dry.

    As Chuck Hans mentioned, end grain boards don't show the marks from cutting the same way boards in other orientations do. Because you're cutting into the ends of the wood fibers, the wood is essentially self-healing. (Think of running a knife edge into the end of a bundle of broom bristles. The bristles will just move out of the way, then return to their original location when you remove the knife.) Also because of this, end grain boards are less likely to dull your knives.
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  10. #10
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    I haven't made any cutting boards yet but plan to do so soon. My brother has requested a cutting board counter top roughly 3 ft. by 3 ft.

    Being of Irish descent and having somewhat of that mischievous nature it occurs to me that one might ask the testers at Cooks Illustrated if they also throw out or give bad ratings for knives that they neglect to sharpen? Maybe they also don't check or change the oil in their cars? Just drive them until the engine blows up and go get another? Gee, what a little maintenance can do for things we own and use.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

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