Wooden chopping tables: everything you need to know

It is likely that any home in which it is cooked daily has a Table for cutting food. We have been making tables and blocks of hard wood for many years and today we are going to put on the table everything you should know to choose the correct table type and how to evaluate the quality of a product in the middle of so many options.

If you are reading this, it is probably for any of the following reasons:

  1. You want to buy a chopping board, for you or for a special gift.
  2. Someone gave you one and you want to know more about the product
  3. You are thinking about making your own chopping tables

Be that as it may, you have reached the right place, let's go directly into it!

As we want to call them: Table for cutting, chopping board, butcher block, table of meat, etc ... all serve the same purpose: cut the food we prepare for a meal. The wood has been the material used for this purpose by centuries and although initially it was used by its accessibility, today many benefits and attractive ones are known to continue using wood.

Here the points we will see today:

  1. Tables for cutting wooden: Benefits

  2. Plastic or wood?

  3. Can any wood be used?

  4. Three forms of construction A table for cutting

  5. How to cure and give maintenance to your table?

Tables for cutting wooden: Benefits

This section will be very general and we ask you to continue reading since later we will deepen each point and explain all considerations.

  • They are very long:
  • Like any product, its useful life depends on several factors. In the case of a wooden cutting board, the choice of the type of wood influences the form in which it is built, as it is cured and the maintenance that is given

  • It is natural, ecological and renewable:
  • Wood contains antibacterial properties, it is a biodegradable material, is able to retain the carbon captured by the tree.

  • The surface is friendly with the edge of the knives:
  • The wood is made of fibers and at the same time is a porous material; This is excellent for caring for the edge of the knives.

  • For tastes the colors:
  • Even when this point is very subjective, using wood opens the doors to a world of designs, combinations and patterns. (Here ours)

    Plastic or wood?

    In summary ... 100% wood.

    Many years ago, plastic tables were started thinking that for being "not porous", they would be more hygienic; various Articles and Investigations They concluded that it is not like that. The proliferation of bacteria is higher in the superficial cuts than within the pores. Certainly the plastic tables do not absorb liquids, because they do not have pores, but each time they are used and cutting deeper cuts and stripes than on wood.

    There are studies that show that the pores of the wood are capable of absorbing, catching and killing bacteria; For this we consider it important to choose dense woods: lower absorption and greater resistance to cutting.

    Both need to be cleaned each time they are used, but on the other hand, the plastic tables require less maintenance: they are resistant to more aggressive cleanings such as dish and chemical washers. Wooden tables require more continuous maintenance.

    For the ecological part there are two points: energy consumption and disposal. If you are someone who cares about the environment, these points have a lot of weight. A plastic table requires considerably more energy for its manufacture than a wooden table. In addition, wood is a biodegradable material, unlike plastic (although it can always be recycled).

    Finally, the useful life. Here we are faithful believers in durable products. Whether for a dining table, a bed or a chopping board, the principle should always be that they last. A plastic table is considered disposable since over time, the knife marks are too many; Instead, a wooden table can last decades, as long as it is well maintained and at the same time you can always eliminate the knife marks sanding and ending up again.

    Can any wood be used?

    The choice of wood is a very delicate part and we feel the responsibility of expanding in detail.

    Apart from its many properties, the hardness Y toxicity They are the most important properties to be evaluated. We want choose a wood that is dense but at the same time it is non-toxic:

    • Hardness: There are much dense timber than others. In a chopping board, a soft wood means greater porosity and that can be cut much easier. On the other hand, tougher woods indicate less absorption of juices and greater resistance to cutting. (see more about how to measure hardness with the Janka's essay)


    Less dense woods: pine, espavé, bitter cedar, mahogany, oak, other ...
    Drown Woods: Teak, Almond, Nazarene, Guayacán, Yellow, Cocobolo, Other ...


    • Toxicity: Woods have toxicity indices that is very relevant when we are talking about food contact. Wood like the Cocobolo, even when they are very dense, are very toxic and definitely not recommended for a chopping board.

    In short, we look for a balance. In Panama we have the happiness of having very dense woods and within them, having options that are not toxic. Our recommendations and own choice at the moment are the following: Almond, Nazarene, Guayacán and yellow.

    Three forms of construction A table for cutting

    There are 3 basic ways to make a table or butcher block and each is defined according to the face or surface of the wood that is upwards.

    Face Grain: Wide face of wood showing wide veins pattern - Edge Grain: Edge or edge of a wooden table showing veins in closed lines - End Grain: It is the face showing the cross section of the Fibers, Punta Views.
    1. Face Grain Tables: They are tables in which a single piece or plank of solid wood is used, as well as a group of tables glued with the face grain upwards. Complete veins can be appreciated much better but at the same time they look more affected by cutting knives.

    2. Edge Grain Tables: These are tables in which the edge or edge of wood strips is placed up. They are much more stable and promise to have minimal movements. On the other hand, cutting knives on this surface is deeper than Tables End Grain but at least less than those of face grain

    3. End Grain Tables: The end of each plank is placed up, leaving the tip of the grain as a surface. This method is the most complex and laborious but at the same time it is the highest quality since the depth of cutting knives on its surface is less than the face and edge grain. One of the concerns always with these tables, is that they tend to turn, but for many people this is not to worry since you can always put a towel down.

    How to cure and give maintenance to your table?

    Additional of all the points mentioned above: dense, non-toxic woods and ways to build; The curing and maintenance are equally important. Independent of the type of wood that is chosen, very dense or not so dense, it remains a porous material. Because of this, the curing and sealing of the chopping tables is crucial.

    We opted to cure our tables in 2 steps. We plunged them into a mineral oil tank for several hours and let them drain the excess, finally, we apply our own Conditioner for cutting boards, which is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil. This allows us to cure the table safely for direct contact with food.

    The maintenance of your table depends on how much is used. If it is a table of daily use, it is advisable to apply the conditioner at least once a week.

    If you want a step-by-step guide for maintaining your board, you can free download ours here


    At the end of all this, we hope you have a full picture on the subject. The wooden cutting tables are very nice and durable, at the same time carry maintenance and care.

    We invite you to write down your questions or comments on the subject and you can also check our Collection of tables. 

    We would love to know that other topics would you like to read!

    José and Javier Feliú



    • Hola!! Para conseguir madera aquí en Panamá puedes escribirnos directamente a jefh@jefhwoodshop.com

      No conocemos del mercado en Ecuador disculpa!!


      JEFH Woodshop
    • Por favor donde comprar estas tablas en la ciudad de Guayaquil-Ecuador

    • hola amigos me podrian recomendar un lugar donde pueda conseguir todo tipo de maderas para trabajar. Muchas gracias

    • Hola Quentin, gracias por la pregunta. Como mencionas, al tener marcas muy profundas en tu tabla, lo ideal sería poder lijarla hasta tener una superficie lisa nuevamente; la frecuencia de esto dependerá de que tanto uso. En tu caso siendo chef, quizás 1 o 2 veces al año sería ideal.

      Un buen indicador de que ya toca hacer esto, sería cuando las marcas son tan profundas que la comida queda atrapada (intentar no llegar a este punto).


      JEFH Woodshop
    • Super articulo! Muchos tips para el cuidado de las tablas de madera, en el caso de marcas mas profundas que tipo de tratamiento recomiendan? Lijar la tabla 1 vez al año y volver a curar por ejemplo?



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