Butcher block cutting boards and countertops have been prized by professional chefs and home cooks for centuries. The beauty, durability, practicality of butcher blocks cannot be beat by most other countertop materials. There are many different types of woods that can be used as a kitchen cutting board, but whatever wood a person chooses, one thing is certain, it better be a hardwood. If it isn’t hard enough the board could be cut too deeply, scratch more easily and fall apart quickly. Most of the woods used for a wood cutting board are maple, walnut, oak, birch, and cherry. These woods are well known for their durability and hardness. Maple cutting boards are by far the most popular and favorite choice of many people.
Maple cutting boards are known for their exceptional beauty and practicality. Maple is a hard, dense, fine-grained wood, and also relatively inexpensive. All these are great qualities to find in a kitchen cutting board. When shopping for maple to build a kitchen cutting board, a buyer wants to be aware that there is both hard and soft maple wood. This is not a big setback, as both are common, but if a person is not very knowledgeable about different types of woods, it would be wise to ask a professional to assist them in choosing which board to purchase. Maple is also known to naturally resist mold and bacteria.
Bamboo butcher blocks are a type of kitchen cutting board that is relatively new to the market. Some people claim it is the best cutting surface and because bamboo grows so rapidly, using it is environmentally friendly. Others claim that it has a short lifespan compared to other kitchen cutting boards because it absorbs so much moisture and then releases it as it dries, causing the board to swell and shrink. This is bad for any type of kitchen cutting board because it causes the glue in the joints wear out faster, which causes the board to fall apart. Bamboo butcher blocks also have not been approved by the NSF and makes people wonder about the safety of these boards.
Walnut butcher blocks are somewhat more expensive than other kitchen cutting boards, but their beauty is also superb. They have a dark, rich coloring and even if a person is just using it on an island, free standing block, or as a countertop cutting board, it can only attribute to the warmth in a kitchen. Some kitchen cutting board manufacturers allow people to design their own boards and when walnut is paired with a lighter wood such as maple it makes a beautiful statement. Some basic choices people make are to have walnut and maple laid out in stripes, or to have an initial placed in the wood. Either way the affect is great!
When a person builds their own board or buys a board from a manufacturer, they need to consider what type of cut they want. By turning the board different ways, it changes the final outcome of the kitchen cutting boards’ appearance and durability. End grain kitchen cutting boards are one of the more durable ways to put a board together. If a person imagines they are looking down at a tree stump, they will be looking at the end grain. The reason people chop wood on tree stumps is that they are durable. This way of making a butcher block also carries that durability. But, when buying an end grain board a person should buy a board at least two and a half inches thick. It might seem bulky to some, but it will help the board last much longer.
After a person decides on the wood, they need to choose whether they want the board for a top of the counter cutting board or an island cutting board. If a person chooses a smaller wood cutting board to use on top of the countertop, they need to make sure the board dries on both sides after washing to prevent warping or cracking. There are two types of island options for wood cutting boards. One is two have a solid piece of wood that reaches the floor and the other is to have a board that has legs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A solid wood cutting board with no legs can be turned over and used on both sides. The board with legs cannot be used on both sides, but it also is more resistant to mold and bacteria and also warping and cracking because it has airflow on top of the board as well as under the board.
With any wood cutting board a person should maintain the board with cutting board oil and buffing to help maintain the appearance and longevity. Doing this keeps the board water resistant and also fills in any knife marks or other scratches.