Chopping boards - which woods?

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Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:54 pm

I am quite taken by the chopping boards featured in Jogge Sundqvists book. I wondered if there are any woods that would be particularly good or bad for this?

I haven't translated his suggestions but I reckon birch was first on his list. I have some oak left over and was wondering about that - but perhaps tannins would be an issue? I also wondered about beech.

Jogge painted his chopping boards - so grain patterns were probably not a concern for him. They look good but I don't like the idea of having food on a painted or stained surface - so would probably leave the main flat surfaces as bare or oil wood.

Chopping boards were a popular product at Art in Action - most were of novel design and highly finished/sleek, they looked really good. Although they seemed expensive to me, I think they worked as a product there because they were still affordable to some and were of practical everyday use. I've since seen mass produced chopping boards selling for similarly high prices in stores - although no doubt there are more affordable alternatives.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby RJWEcology » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:08 pm

Sycamore is good for spoons - could it be good for chopping boards also? :?
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby voodooalpaca » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:46 pm

Our local bespoke kitchen place knocks up "personalised" boards out of left over Iroko, Beech and Walnut.

All they do is use a CNC router to write words on the sides really, not very bodgery :-)
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby ToneWood » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:33 pm

Never heard of Iroko (and I've come across some odd exotic woods). Beech could work. I've made a few things from beech, still getting to grips with it though. I decided to keep 2 of the 3 beech bowls I made recently, I really like the shape of the large one and my wife likes one of the smaller ones - a lovely two-tone effect has emerged on the two smaller bowls . Would love to get some more walnut buts its uncommon here.

A colleague had several trees cut down at his new home today, unfortunately they chipped the lot :(. Leylandii & a big willow but also magnolia (good thick branches) and a huge old wisteria. I didn't find out until it was too late.
Last edited by ToneWood on Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby SeanHellman » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:53 pm

People seam to use any wood these days, with burr and figured oak being a popular and expensive option for BB makers. I would stay away from oak as it does like to move a lot when dry, stains when in contact with iron and water. I have used many woods, the diffuse porous ones being better.
The main thing is to use a radial cut board which is more stable and will not warp like a tangentially cut plank. Even kiln dried wood can and do still warp. Well it is the cupping that is the real problem.
I only oil them before sale to keep them looking nice, once used they only ever get washed, they will take on their own patina and character over the decades.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby anobium » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:09 pm

We have an old bread board made I believe from sycamore. It is sometimes turned over and used as a chopping/cutting board. When I am not looking my wife puts it in the dishwasher when stained. It warps a bit but returns to normal when dry.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby ToneWood » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:16 am

Warping, I'd forgotten about that possibility. I've fleetingly come across discussions of the various ways of cutting planks from a log and didn't pay it much attention as I thought that I don't cut planks. Until now it hadn't occurred to me that a cutting board is essentially a plank. A radial cut board will require a larger log to start with though, for a given board size.

We use 2 cutting boards currently, a large oval and a small rectangle. The latter has a semi-circle cut out for a simple stainless-steel bar handle. The big one looks nicer but I prefer to use the small one - its v. convenient*. They seem pretty stable, especially the big oval, but if they start to warp I just soak them under a running tap for a while (the oval is too big to soak in the sink), let them drip dry and then use them opposite side up (i.e. with raised centre up).

*I bought a v. small collander & v. small pyrex bowl a while back, never seen such things before or since, but they also turned out to be v. convenient and now see a lot of use. They take up v. little room in the cupboard/dishwasher/washing up, are quicker to clean and big enough when preparing smaller quantities.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby bulldawg_65 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:36 pm

Like Sean says folks use just about any type of wood these days for cutting boards. Traditionally though, Maple was a staple, it is plentiful, fairly stable, especially when put together as cubes with endgrain exposed (Think butcher block). The wood isn't so hard as to dull the blade of the chef's knife and it cleans easily. That being said, any fruit wood will work as will American Sycamore. I've been having a friend that makes cutting boards and wooding toys for Janus a local charity, make me unfinished bread boards I either chip carve them or wood burn designs into them and sell them. They seem to do pretty well, especially if you can do a themed or matching set of 4.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby ToneWood » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:40 pm

Interesting. Sounds like you have selling strategy. I don't think we have the same variety of maple in the UK, sycamore & field maple are pretty common though. They have some Tulip Trees at Stourhead - which I think is an Acer & supposed to be good for furniture I believe. We usually seem to end up with one or two Japanese maples in our garden (all the homes I have owned had at least one :D) but they stay pretty small. BTW I'm planning to trim what we think is a decorative cherry in the garden soon :) - the branches are only big enough for spoons/ladles though.

I was flicking through Jogge's book today (I'm loving this book BTW - if only it was in English!). He shows how to split a log and use different parts for his different projects on P50 - very efficient, like a tailor/pattern cutting optimizing use of material. He addresses the issue of warping on P38, much as Sean has described (Radialer Schnitt v. Tangentialer Schnitt). He suggests using the full width slices either side of your central split for Schneidbretter (cutting boards) & Schemelsitzflasche (stool tops?). Nice sketch of the Y-crotch froe brake jrrcaim described in P51 too.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby ToneWood » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:06 pm

I got chatting to an old chap yesterday, a countryman of my father's generation. Apparently he worked in one of the local saw mills years ago. I told him I was thinking of making a chopping board and he said "sycamore" before I even asked, so I guess it has long been used for chopping boards.
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Re: Chopping boards - which woods?

Postby anobium » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:34 pm

The tulip tree is a North American species , Liriodendron tulipifera, which according to Wikipedia is often called poplar though is unrelated. Your old friend has probably confirmed that my bread board is sycamore as I suspected
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