How to Choose the Best Wood for a Cutting Board or Butcher Block

How to Choose the Best Wood for a Cutting Board or Butcher Block

Wondering how to choose the best wood for a cutting board or butcher block? You’ve come to the right place!

Wooden chopping boards are a sincere pleasure in the kitchen. There’s just something incredible about showcasing a natural edge cutting board.

When it comes to choosing the best material for a cutting board, wood is the clear winner. Environmentalists love its sustainable nature, and there are tons of different wood varieties to choose from, each with its own unique look.

But let’s be honest – the real reason to buy a wooden chopping board is that they just look great in most kitchens. Wooden chopping boards look more natural and fit in better with existing kitchen furniture than plastic or glass options.

But there’s one issue everyone struggles with – choosing the right wooden chopping board.

If you’re wondering which is the best wood for cutting boards, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover several types of wood and everything else worth considering as you’re shopping for a wooden cutting board.

Let’s get started.

What are Wooden Chopping Boards?

What are Wooden Chopping Boards?

Before we get into the different types of wood used for chopping boards, it’s important to understand what a wooden chopping board is and why they’re so popular.

A wooden cutting board is simply a large piece of wood that has been carefully cut and leveled to create an even surface for cutting food. They range in size from small boards you can use for chopping up small amounts of meat or vegetables, all the way to giant boards that are perfect for butchering large pieces of meat.

They’re popular because they complement most kitchens. And they provide a safe surface on which to chop food without risking damage to your countertop or knives.

Wood cutting boards are crafted using lumber. But various manufacturers are also creating chopping boards from plastic, vinyl, and glass.

Advantages of Wood Over Plastic and Glass Cutting Boards

Is wood really that special? What are the advantages of wood chopping boards over plastic and glass alternatives?

Does the material actually make a difference?

Wood vs Plastic Chopping Boards

Wood vs Plastic Chopping Boards

While plastic cutting boards are cheap, we believe you get what you pay for when buying inexpensive products. Most of the cheapest plastic boards cost less than a dollar, with the priciest rarely costing beyond $5.

However, wood cutting boards typically cost at least $25. But some can go for $200 or more. Keep in mind, that while plastic chopping boards are the cheaper option, they’re also less work to maintain.

Since plastic isn’t porous, there’s no concern that the surface will absorb liquids. That means you’ll have a sanitary surface free from chicken juices to chop your veggies.

Wooden boards demand regular oiling to maintain their waterproof nature. But this still isn’t as bad as the plastic board drawbacks.

Knives have little trouble cutting through the plastic. Since the cuts are challenging to clean, these tend to allow bacteria to fester. Thus, the bacteria can transfer to food quite easily, resulting in illnesses.

Furthermore, hard plastics tend to dull knives. With this being the case, you can expect to replace plastic chopping boards from the cuts and knives as they dull down.

Glass Chopping Boards

What About Glass Chopping Boards?

Glass cutting boards are another option. These are particularly favored by people who knead dough, cut cookies, and roll out pieces.

Glass boards offer a level of smoothness that’s not found with other cutting boards. Even though plastic boards are smooth, glass is smoother. It’s also non-porous, which ensures you don’t have to worry about dirt and bacteria in your board.

Not to mention, glass boards are easier to keep clean.

Furthermore, glass chopping boards offer a stunning aesthetic that some find luxurious. The manufacturers can put patterns under the glass, making beautiful, durable, affordable cutting boards.

But keep in mind, glass also comes with its own set of drawbacks. Glass chopping boards are the slipperiest option. Thus, you might have a higher chance of having an accident with your knives. Also, glass dulls knives nearly as fast as plastic.

Advantages of Wooden Cutting Boards

More Advantages of Wooden Cutting Boards 

Wooden butcher blocks are more desirable than plastic and glass alternatives for a variety of reasons.

For starters, wood cutting boards come in a variety of designs and styles to choose from. You can pick from edge-grain boards, end-grain boards, or wide planks. Additionally, you get to pick from different wood types, sizes, and finishes.

Another key advantage of wooden cutting boards is their superior durability and reliability. They’re sturdy, reliable, and safe, and they can easily last for decades with good maintenance.

One of the other major benefits of wooden boards is their ease of maintenance. While they do require regular oiling to prevent bacterial penetration, this routine is relatively simple and easy to follow. Additionally, you can also purchase pre-treated boards that have already been treated with mineral oil or natural plant-based oils, further reducing the need for maintenance.

Wood also helps to add natural warmth and style to your kitchen. With a range of different wood types and finishes available, you have plenty of options to choose from in terms of how you want your kitchen to look.

For example, stained mahogany boards are nice for those who appreciate a rustic style and want to add a touch of elegance to the space. Or acacia wood chopping boards offer a luxurious exotic grain pattern that looks fabulous in any kitchen.

Factors to Prioritize when Shopping for a Wooden Chopping Board

Wooden chopping boards come with various options. Thus, it’s essential to look over these options thoughtfully prior to deciding on a board. Here are the main considerations:

Janka Hardness Rating

Janka hardness rating

You’ll need to keep several things in mind when choosing a chopping board. The first is that you should find solid wood that is both durable and scratch-resistant. This is because regular use can wear down softer boards fairly quickly.

A higher Janka hardness rating means that the wood is more resistant to scratches, dents, and dings. Hardwoods are generally a better choice than softwoods for this reason. However, extremely hard boards can also dull knives more quickly as you use them.

For this reason, we recommend choosing a board with a Janka hardness rating between 900 and 1,500. This will strike the perfect balance between durability and knife-friendliness.

cutting board toxicity

Cutting Board Toxicity

Chopping boards can use a variety of materials in their creation. But some present potential health risks if not properly cared for.

The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) states that “your body can absorb the chemicals in wood through the skin, lungs, or digestive system, potentially resulting in health issues such as asthma, dermatitis, decrease in lung function, rhinitis, and eczema.”

To avoid these risks, it’s important to choose a wood that’s considered food-safe. Some good options include fruit-, nut-, leaf-, and sap-producing woods such as maple, cherry, and beech. Be wary of exotic woods like purpleheart or other similarly beautiful but potentially toxic options.

When using a wooden chopping board, be sure to prep it properly to avoid absorbing toxins through digestion. For example, poorly prepped beech boards can result in serious health problems like dermatitis, asthma, and cancer. With the right care, however, a wooden chopping board can be a safe and attractive addition to your kitchen.

wood grain type porosity

Woodgrain type/porosity 

When you’re choosing a cutting board, it’s important to think about the porosity of the wood. The less porous the wood, the less likely it is to warp, stain, or grow bacteria.

Closed block woods, like plastic and glass, are a good choice if you’re looking for a board that won’t absorb liquids or harbor bacteria. However, there are also benefits to choosing a wood board – for example, wood is typically more durable than plastic or glass and can add a natural aesthetic to your kitchen.

As you’re choosing a cutting board made from wood, try to avoid porous woods like oak or ash. Instead, look for closed block woods like acacia or maple that will provide better long-term use and protection for your food.

conditioning a wood cutting board


Conditioning your cutting board is a must if you want to keep it in good condition for longer. There are two main types of conditioning oil that you can use – butcher’s block oil or cutting board oil.

Butcher’s block oil is a mineral oil that is petroleum-based and helps to prevent the wood from absorbing water. It’s relatively inexpensive, with prices starting around $14.

Meanwhile, cutting board oil is a tung oil made from pressing the seeds/nuts of the tung tree. It’s slightly more expensive than petroleum-based oils, at around $20+. But it’s extremely reliable and is recommended over cooking oils such as olive oil or vegetable oil.

Remember that you should avoid using oils that may go rancid such as nut oils, as this can cause an allergic reaction. Ultimately, it’s up to you which oil you choose. But it’s important to condition your cutting block regularly in order to keep it in the best possible condition.

cost of buying an acacia wood cutting board


Then, there’s the cost of a wooden chopping block. This can vary depending on a number of factors. The most important considerations are the type of wood, the size of the board, and any special features or decorations.

The price of a wooden chopping block usually depends on the type of wood used. Some woods, like acacia or maple, have a beautiful grain pattern and are often used to make high-end chopping blocks. These woods can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from $25-$50 per board foot or even higher.

Other types of wood, such as teak, tend to be more affordable and may cost around $15-$30 per board foot.

The size of the board can also have an impact on the price. Larger chopping boards are typically more expensive, as they offer more working space and contain any juices that may run during the cutting process. However, wood is priced by the board foot most of the time, so larger chopping boards will generally cost more.

Other factors that can affect the price of a chopping block include special features or decorations, such as custom engraving or other forms of personalization. Additionally, some chopping blocks are made from exotic woods or have a high-gloss finish, which may also increase their cost.

Overall, most chopping blocks typically range in price from $25-$50 per foot, depending on the various factors mentioned above. However, depending on the specific features and materials used, some chopping blocks can cost significantly more. To get the best value, it’s important to carefully consider all these factors when making your purchase.

Top 6 Best Wood for Cutting Boards

Curious about the best wood types for cutting boards? Here’s a list of the top six kinds of wood for cutting boards, outlined and described in-depth.

acacia wood cutting board


Desire a beautiful wood chopping board with a rich color? Acacia is the answer.

Acacia is known for its durability and strength, even more than some of the most popular hardwoods like oak. In addition, acacia chopping boards show off an attractive range of browns and reds, making them both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

However, acacia is a bit more expensive than beech, with a price tag of around $30. But if you’re looking for a top-quality cutting board that will last for years, acacia is an excellent choice.

Acacia chopping boards are both beautiful and durable. They’re also strong enough to resist warping and cracking, and they’re easy to clean. However, they are more expensive than beech boards, averaging around $50.

beech wood cutting board


Looking for a hardwood chopping board that is both durable and easy to clean? Consider beech.

Beech wood is extremely hard, making it resistant to breaking or scratches. In addition, the dense grain pattern prevents dirt and bacteria from accumulating.

Furthermore, beech wood is also more moisture-free than other hardwoods, making it easy to clean and maintain. However, it may show stains more easily than other types of wood. Thus, you may need to take extra care when cleaning and conditioning it.

Additionally, beech chopping boards are some of the most affordable on the market, usually coming with a price tag as low as $15. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality wooden cutting board that won’t break the bank, beech is a great option. But if you’re looking for something even cheaper, you might want to try bamboo.

Beech wood is resistant to wear and scratches. It also offers impressive impact resistance and is easy to clean. Furthermore, knives don’t get dulled by this wood and it’s quite affordable at around $15 for a decent cutting board.

Keep in mind, that the light colors of beech wood show stains with ease. You’ll also need to maintain the wood to ensure it doesn’t shrink.

bamboo cutting board


One of the most popular materials for cutting boards is bamboo. And there’s a good reason for that: bamboo is both strong and sustainable.

Bamboo is actually a grass, not a wood, but it shares many of the same properties as hardwoods. It’s extremely strong and resistant to scratches, making it ideal for everyday use.

Furthermore, bamboo is a very sustainable material, as it grows quickly and doesn’t require harsh chemicals or pesticides to thrive. As a result, it’s become a popular choice for eco-conscious consumers.

Bamboo cutting boards are typically very affordable, with a price tag of around $10 or $15. However, they’re not as durable as some of the other options on this list. Additionally, bamboo is more absorbent than other materials, so it may require more care and maintenance.

Bamboo cutting boards are strong and sustainable. They’re also quite affordable, averaging about $10-15. However, bamboo is more absorbent than other materials, so it requires extra care and maintenance. Overall, it’s a great option for those looking for an eco-friendly cutting board at an affordable price.

maple wood cutting board


When it comes to chopping boards, maple is one of the best options available. It meets nearly all the conditions we talked about earlier, such as being non-toxic (it produces samaras, which are highly nutritious) and sufficiently hard.

In fact, it’s one of the densest woods, which makes it resistant to bacteria and dirt build-up. This also blocks moisture and liquids well.

What’s more, maple is very beautiful and easy to work with, with a neutral color and subtle grains that complement most kitchen settings. However, it does show stains without hesitation, so you need to be selective in how you use your maple cutting board.

Additionally, these boards are slightly more expensive than other wooden boards, usually costing between $20 and $150.

Remember, you’ll also need to condition your maple cutting board with quality mineral oils. Maple tends to shrink in low-humidity conditions, which is equally important to keep in mind.

Maple is hard with a Janka rating of 1450. The wood is dense, heavy, and highly durable, making it scratch-resistant, as well. It also features some beautiful straight grains that easily complement any space.

teak wood cutting board


If you’re looking for a chopping board that’s both attractive and resilient, teak is the right material for you. Teak is one of the most durable woods available and it’s highly resistant to stains and moisture.

Overall, teak is an excellent choice for chopping boards. It’s incredibly hard with a Janka rating of 1155, so it’s highly resistant to scratches and wear. It also features beautiful, straight grains that offer a natural aesthetic.

However, teak is much more expensive than other materials on this list, with prices ranging from $50 to $150+ for a quality cutting board. Additionally, teak needs to be properly maintained in order to prevent it from drying out and cracking.

So, if you’re looking for a high-quality cutting board that will last for years to come, teak is a great option. However, be prepared to pay a higher price tag and take care of your board with regular maintenance.

walnut wood cutting board


Is walnut good for cutting boards? This is a question that many people ask. The answer is yes – walnut makes an excellent cutting board wood. It has a dark color which is one of its appealing features, and it is softer than maple but still hard enough to be perfect for knife maintenance.

People are often concerned about the softness of walnut. This is understandable, as it is the softest of the close-grained wood types. With a Janka hardness rating of 1010 LBF, it’s not as tough as some other woods. However, this doesn’t mean that walnut is unsuitable for many purposes. It has many uses, and is much more than just a beautiful wood.

Despite being soft, walnut is fairly tough and durable. It’s resistant to insects and fungi, so you don’t have to worry about damage by these pests. Plus, it’s also resistant to warping or swelling in water, so it makes a preferable cutting board material.

Walnut is a popular choice for chopping boards because of its close grain and attractive color. However, it is also the softest of the hardwoods, so it needs to be handled with care. With proper care, a walnut chopping board can last for many years.

If you’re looking for durable and resistant hardwood, walnut is a great option. Its close-grain pattern keeps moisture, germs, and dirt from getting trapped in the wood, making it easy to clean.

There are many benefits to using a walnut chopping board, not the least of which is its beautiful appearance. Walnut chopping boards come in a range of prices, from $20 to $200, so you can find one that fits your budget. These boards are also durable and long-lasting, making them a great investment.

Walnut cutting boards are nice because of their high-end chocolate aesthetic. Furthermore, you’ll have a close-grain pattern that keeps dirt and germs at bay.

This type of wood also keeps knives sharp. Also, for the price, it offers impressive characteristics and requires very little maintenance.

However, keep in mind, that this is one of the softest close-grain hardwoods. Thus, you can expect dents and scratches on the board to accumulate over time.

Choosing Cutting Board Grain Patterns

When choosing a wooden cutting board, you’ll need to decide between end grain, edge grain, face grain, and flat grain. Here’s a breakdown of each:

end grain cutting board

End-Grain Cutting Boards

End-grain cutting boards are a great choice for your kitchen if you want a board that will protect your knives and is gentle on your hands. The open wood-cell structure of these boards makes them softer and provides a better grip.

Cutting boards featuring end grains also self-heal to overcome minor dents and scratches. However, they’re more expensive than edge grain cutting boards, usually costing 4-15 times as much as edge grain cutting boards.

However, if you want a high-quality cutting board with great durability and performance, end-grain cutting boards are the way to go.

edge grain cutting boards

Edge-Grain Cutting Boards

Edge-grain boards are a great option for those looking for a more affordable cutting board that is still stable and offers knife blade protection. The edge grain construction exposes the growth rings on the widest surface, making them heavier and more stable than other cutting board options.

However, this construction can also lead to knives dulling more quickly and the surface of the board is less able to self-heal.

Regardless, if you’re looking for a good value cutting board option that is still functional and durable, an edge grain cutting board is definitely worth considering.

face grain cutting boards

Face Grain Boards

A face-grain cutting board is a perfect choice for those who want the benefits of an edge-grain board with uneven sides. The wider side is called the face, and it’s perfect for keeping things stable when using the cutting board.

In fact, many chefs prefer face-grain boards over all other types of cutting boards because they’re easy to use and keep clean.

If you’re looking for a face-grain cutting board, be sure to choose one that’s made from high-quality materials. The best face-grain boards are made from hardwoods like acacia or maple. These woods are durable and won’t dull your knives.

Keep in mind, that you should also look for a cutting board that’s at least 1 inch thick. This will help to prevent the board from warping over time.

What Else is Worth Considering When Choosing Cutting Board Wood?

Even though we already went over some of the main things to consider as you’re shopping for a wooden cutting board, you’ll also want to think about the following:

knife dulling test with cutting board

Knife-dulling test

Use a knife-dulling test to see how quickly a cutting board dulls your knives. This can help you decide whether or not to purchase a specific cutting board. To perform a knife-dulling test, you’ll use a factory-sharpened knife to cut into the board around ten times. After, you’ll use a strong light to check it for white light reflections. If the knife is dull, it’ll reflect white light more intensely than a sharp blade.

Visually check the board

To determine a quality chopping board, check for fine finishing, no obvious flaws or cracks, and a smooth surface. Check and see if the board has been fully dried, well-oiled, and beveled along the corners and edges, too.

cutting board size information

Wooden Cutting Board Sizing: Dimensions & Thickness

Professional chefs claim that the best size for a wood cutting board is a medium-sized board. But large-sized cutting boards are ideal in some situations.

Most cutting boards measure between 10 and 12 inches by 16 to 18 inches. For those using centimeters, that’s 25 to 30 centimeters by 40 to 45 centimeters.

If you want a cutting board that’s small enough to take on the go, look for one that measures 9 inches by 12 inches or smaller. Large cutting boards, on the other hand, can measure up to 24 inches by 18 inches or larger.

When it comes to thickness, 1 inch is the standard. But some manufacturers make thinner boards. Ideally, you’ll have a board that’s durable but not too thick to the point that it’s overly heavy. Most of the time, around 0.5 inches (1.2 centimeters) is ideal.

cutting board faq

Cutting Board FAQ

What wood should not be used for cutting boards?

Open-grained wood types, such as red oak, white oak, and hickory, should not be used for cutting boards. These are challenging to keep clean because they tend to trap dirt.

Cutting boards made from these kinds of wood can also contribute to the development of bacteria. It’s also best to steer clear of any light-colored soft timber, like pine. These woods tend to scratch easily and break down over time.

What is the healthiest cutting board wood to use?

The key thing to remember is that the healthiest cutting boards are the ones made from trees that produce edible fruits. This is a good sign that the wood cutting boards will be safe to use. Thus, maple, teak, walnut, beech, and acacia are all perfectly healthy options for wooden chopping board creation.

What type of cutting board is the most sanitary?

Plastic cutting boards are the most sanitary because they’re easier to clean and won’t harbor bacteria. However, some people prefer wooden cutting boards because they feel that wood has antibacterial properties.

What is best for vegetable cutting boards?

The best vegetable cutting boards are made of hardwoods, like acacia or walnut. These woods are durable and won’t dull your knives.

Do cutting boards hold bacteria?

Cutting boards are known for holding bacteria. While this is concerning, it’s easy to keep your cutting board clean with regular washing and oiling. You may want a wooden cutting board if you prefer to use natural cleaning products that are safe for your home and body.

Is oak okay for cutting boards?

Oak wood is not okay for cutting boards. Even though it’s a hardwood, it’s known for harboring bacteria and can dull your knives. Not to mention, the grain of this wood is prone to scratches and cracks.

What’s the best wood to use for an end-grain cutting board?

The best wood for an end-grain cutting board is maple. This wood is hard and durable, making it ideal for withstanding the repeated chopping action. Plus, it’s easy to clean and won’t hold bacteria.

Can you use purple heartwood for a cutting board?

Purpleheart and other similarly beautiful woods are potentially toxic options for cutting boards. The chemicals present in these woods can cause serious health problems.

What cutting board do chefs use?

Most chefs prefer plastic or bamboo cutting boards because they’re easy to clean and won’t dull knives. However, some chefs prefer wooden cutting boards because they add a rustic touch to the kitchen.

What’s the best cutting board for raw meat?

Raw meat can be especially difficult to clean off a cutting board. However, if you plan to use a cutting board for raw meat, the best option is either plastic or glass because they’re easy to clean and not porous.

How to Clean and Care for Wooden Chopping Boards

How to Clean and Care for Wooden Chopping Boards

Cleaning and caring for wooden chopping boards involves taking a few simple steps to ensure the longevity of the board.

1. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on the board. Instead, opt for warm soapy water and a soft sponge.

2. Never put wooden boards in the dishwasher. This can cause them to warp and crack.

3. Always hand-dry your wooden cutting boards after washing to avoid water damage. Make sure not to avoid letting the board soak.

4. Wipe your board with a bit of mineral oil every few months to keep it looking its best.

5. Replace your wooden chopping board when you notice any signs of cracking or warping.

Benefits of Oiling Wooden Cutting Boards

Benefits of Oiling Wooden Cutting Boards

Oiling wooden cutting boards is important to do every few months in order to keep the wood from drying out and cracking. Not only does this prevent damage, but it also helps to keep the board bacteria-free.

Oiling a cutting board creates a barrier that prevents water from seeping in and causing the wood to warp. The oil also works to repel bacteria and keep the board sanitary.

Regular oiling helps to keep the cutting board looking its best by preventing cracks and preserving the wood’s natural color. When properly cared for, wooden cutting boards can last for decades.

Which are the best oils for cutting board conditioning?

Which are the best oils for cutting board conditioning?

Cutting board conditioning oils can be made from a variety of materials, including mineral oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. However, in general, the best oils for cutting board conditioning are those that have antibacterial properties and will not leave behind any strong odors or residue.

The best oil to use for conditioning cutting boards is mineral oil. However, coconut oil and olive oil are solid options. Keep in mind, that since these oils are made from plants, they can go rancid if allowed to soak into the board.

oiling a wood chopping board

How to Oil Your Chopping Board

Cutting boards need to be oiled regularly in order to keep them looking and working their best. Here are some steps to follow when oiling your board:

1. Start by cleaning the surface of the cutting board thoroughly with warm soapy water.

2. Let the board dry completely before applying any oils or conditioners.

3. Apply a thin coat of oil to the surface of the board using a soft cloth. Gently rub the oil into the wood until it is absorbed.

4. Let the coated cutting board sit for several hours or overnight, then wipe off any excess oil with another clean cloth.

5. Repeat this process regularly, at least every few months, to ensure that your cutting board stays in good condition.

Choosing the best wood for a cutting board or butcher block can be a daunting task. However, by following the tips above, you can select a material that is both durable and easy to clean.

Additionally, oiling your chopping board regularly can help to keep it looking its best and prevent bacteria from growing. With the right care and maintenance, your wood cutting board can last for years to come!