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Thread: A wood question for you cutting board gurus....Vaughn???...Anyone???.........

  1. #1
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    A wood question for you cutting board gurus....Vaughn???...Anyone???.........

    Some time ago I read an article that talked about using the different types of grain in a piece of wood for cutting board surfaces. I don't remember much about the article except that it dealt with the differences of using end grain, edge grain and face grain for the cutting surface. Does anyone have any information on this concept?

    Aside from end grain, what are the pros and cons of using "edge grain" and "face grain" for the cutting surface?
    Last edited by Mark Rios; 07-09-2007 at 12:56 AM.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

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  2. #2
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    In my experience, face grain cutting boards typically show the wood's figure the best, but they are less durable (more prone to scratching) than edge grain or end grain cutting boards. Edge grain is similar to face grain in durability (not really scratch resistant), but usually shows less of the wood's figure. End grain is usually not as "figureful" as the other two, but it is by far the more durable and scratch resistant.

    You probably already know all this, but for those who might not, if you think of the wood fibers as the bristles on a broom, with face and edge grain boards you're pushing the knife blade perpendicular into the side of the bristles, so you sever them. Once they're cut, the scratch is visible. With an end grain board, you're pushing the knife blade into the tips of the bristles, so they just move out of the way of the blade. They don't get cut, to the scratch typically disappears (unless you're really whacking the board hard with the knife). This is simir to the way a bristle dart board "heals" when you remove a dart.

    So to answer your question about end grain vs. face and edge grain...

    Pros: Usually looks better, especially if you're using fancy woods like curly maple.

    Cons: Scratches much more easily than end grain.

    And I strongly recommend not combining face/edge grain with end grain in the same cutting bard. This is what can happen:

    Attachment 10552

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  3. #3
    Myself, I would be a bit leery about using end grain in a cutting board. Maybe I am way off base here, , but I would think an unsealed end grain cutting board would soak up the blood and fluids from uncooked meats.

    The old, old mills around here in good ol New England used to have a lot of end grain floors. They would take 12 x 12 inch beams and cut them into 4 inch lengths. These end brain blocks would be laid out on the floor like a brick patio because when the machinery spilled oil and whatnot, the end grain wood would soak it right up. This not only prevented slips and falls, but also acted as a preservative. Over time those end grain floors would be a modern day equivalent of creosoted ties. Oil soaked to the core, they would certainly resist rot.

    Now this is the reason I would be leery of using end grain cutting boards...at least ones not sealed with some kind of finish.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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    Travis, in this case I think you may be off base. End grain has historically been the used for butcher blocks and other wooden cutting surfaces that get heavy daily use. Typically these surfaces are treated with mineral oil, but they're not sealed per se. There is a fair amount of debate over whether wood or plastic boards are less prone to retaining bacteria. Both types appear to be capable of retaining bacteria, but both benefit from a good washing with hot water and soap.

    Personally, I use a plastic board for raw meats, and whatever I have clean (wood or plastic) for cooked meats and veggies.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  5. #5
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    Vaughn, what about Corain for cutting boards? I have some really cool peices and wondering about that.

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    Al, I think Corian would be similar to a plastic board. Great, in other words. It's probably a little harder on the knife edge, but as far as I know, Corian works well for cutting boards. (There's a guy in my area that sells them at pretty much every arts and crafts show I've been to.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  7. #7
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    Thanks Vaughn for the info. I have fifty pound of scraps collecting dust waiting to be cutting boards.

  8. #8
    Yeah I kind of thought I might be off-based. Just thought I would mention my fears though. That is typically what happens when you base ideas off emotions like fear instead of logic.

    Personally I don't know why a cutting board like that would bother me, I like my steaks and hamburgs cooked rare anyway!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Hi guys

    Well here is some actual research on the subject, as I read it, wood is better than plastic

    http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/fa...ttingboard.htm

    Jay

    PS and it looks better!

    don't know if I would use Corian, I think it would have the same problems as those cited for the plastic boards and would be tougher on the blades

  10. #10
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    Jay, if you dig around the 'net a bit, you can find research papers that argue both sides. (There are a few links in the link I posted earlier.) I don't know which ones to believe. I agree with you, though...the wood ones look better. I still tend to use plastic for questionable stuff, mostly because I can throw it in the dishwasher in hopes of a more sterile cleaning.

    And Travis, even your rare meat is generally heated enough to kill the creeping critters living in it. It may still look bloody, but it's "sanitary" blood.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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