Wood is one of the most suitable materials for the manufacture of wooden cutting boards for the kitchen. They are hygienic, comfortable to work with and are made of natural material.

However, there are hundreds of different woods, each with its own characteristics. Using it like this may seem like you don’t need to eat a lot of head, but choosing the right wood for your cutting board is not a trivial task. It is important for several reasons: hygiene, useful life, keeping the knives sharp or optimizing the cutting capacity, among others.

What characteristics should a wood have to be used as a wooden cutting boards?

The hardness of the wood

Obviously a hardwood in this case has advantages over a softwood, among other things it will have a longer useful life and will scratch less.

But we can also sin excessively. There are really hard woods like the quebracho (its name derives from the expression failed axes) or the ipe. In such cases, we would incur expensive wood and, above all, speed up the procession of knives and other kitchen utensils.

The idea is a search a hard wood, but not so much how to generate these problems.

Grain size and hygiene

As you know, wood is a porous material, that is, it has small pores (grain) invisible to the naked eye, and its size varies according to the type or species of wood.

This has important implications for using a particular wood to make a cutting board. The larger the pore, the easier it is for liquids, bacteria, etc. are deposited on the wood.

Therefore, the ideal is to choose fine-grained woods or small pores.

Regardless of the pore size, all cutting boards need to be washed or cleaned. Here is a guide to do it.

Wood maintenance and stability

Cutting boards require regular lubrication, approximately every 2-3 months, using food grade mineral oil. There is also other finishes, such as wax, edible oils, linseed oil …

What this oil does is to moisturize the wood to reduce its natural tendency to shrink or warp when humidity levels vary. Not all woods behave the same, in some these trends are greater than in others.

Thus, so that the lubrication needs are less, that is, less frequent, it is advisable to use little or at least moderately nervous woods. For example, very nervous wood, such as eucalyptus, would have to be oiled continuously and, even so, it is possible that they are deformed.

The best woods for a cutting board

Maple. The maple, also called maple, is a hard, fine to very fine grained and light colored wood. It is undoubtedly the preferred option in North America, where this wood is abundant. May be the most balanced option in terms of hardness, pores and stability.

Beech. The beech wood is hard, slightly less than the maple, lighter in color (when steamed it is a little darker, which is normal), fine-grained and a little more edgy than the maple. It is an excellent option, which is also enhanced by being relatively inexpensive. Within this classification, only bamboo offers a quality / price so good. As a disadvantage, it has to be so light in color that the stains can be seen easily, and it would have to be oiled a little more frequently, every month or two months depending on the use.

Teak. Teak is a golden, hard-colored tropical wood (similar to beech), very stable and with a coarse grain. The latter is a disadvantage in terms of surface hygiene, to which it must be added that its high silica content accelerates the wear of the knives. Its great advantage is stability, which guarantees a Long service life. The price of this wood is relatively high.

Nut. Walnut wood is hard, although less than the previous ones, of medium grain, stable (slightly nervous) and chocolate brown in color. The benefits of the nut come from its stability (it would be enough to look at it quarterly) and appearance. The color of the wood hides the stains of everyday life and is also a very beautiful wood. Like teak, walnut is an expensive wood.

Bamboo. Although bamboo is not really a wood, it is an herb, its characteristics make it comparable to wood in many ways. It has a hard surface (more than wood like beech), with a light and stable color. Its use as a chopping board is expanding every day for these reasons, and also because of its low price and because it is a fast growing herb it is a most sustainable option.

Other common woods for making cutting boards are oak, ash, rubber, olive, holm oak or acacia.

Which woods should we avoid for a wooden cutting boards?

On many occasions we will see cutting boards made with wood that are not suitable because they are far from fulfilling the characteristics we mentioned at the beginning.

For example, woods such as pine or cedar are very soft. That is, they will be scratched and damaged very easily. Also, its service life will be very limited.

Others will be very tough, especially we are talking about tropical species.

And there are still those who completely exclude coarse-grained wood, leaving out wood such as oak, ash or olive, which we previously said were very common.