Get The Best Wood For Cutting Board Woodworking: 10 Picks

Wood cutting boards have a surprising number of advantages over other materials: wood is more sanitary and durable than plastic and more affordable than granite or marble, and it also minimizes dulling and damage to knife blades. And of course, if you’re a crafting enthusiast, wood cutting boards can be made at home in a wide range of creative and beautiful designs. But therein lies the question: what is the best wood for cutting board woodworking?

Once you’ve decided on wood for your project, you’ll still need to decide what type (or types) of wood you want to use to build your board. Some wood varieties lend themselves well to creating a quality cutting surface, while others simply aren’t suitable for use in the kitchen. Below, we’ll take a look at the 10 best types of wood for cutting board woodworking and the distinctive benefits they offer for your finished product.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood for Your Cutting Board

As you plan your next do-it-yourself cutting board project, be sure to weigh the following factors into your wood selection:

The Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking

Taking into account the factors listed above, the following woods are the best choices for building your own cutting board. Most images of wood types below were obtained from Keim Lumber.

NOTE: For more information about what the best type of cutting board oil can do for your boards, regardless of the type of wood you choose, check out our in-depth dive: 5 Picks: The Best Cutting Board Oil For The Perfect Boards

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Acacia

Acacia wood comes from the acacia trees and shrubs native to Australia, which also grow in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and even some regions of North and South America.

More than 1,000 varieties of acacia have been identified, but most of the acacia imported into the U.S. consists of two species: Acacia Koa, sometimes called Hawaiian Koa, and Acacia Blackwood.

Acacia wood comes from the acacia trees and shrubs native to Australia, which also grow in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and even some regions of North and South America. More than 1,000 varieties of acacia have been identified, but most of the acacia imported into the U.S. consists of two species: Acacia Koa, sometimes called Hawaiian Koa, and Acacia Blackwood.

Because it is a dense wood, acacia is both durable and water-resistant, which will prevent it from warping or buckling over time. Its strength will resist cuts and blemishes from contact with knives, and the wood is also said to be naturally antibacterial, giving it another advantage for use in cutting boards and other kitchen and serving tools. Acacia is also affordable, making it a well-rounded option for cutting boards and other woodworking projects.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Ash

A member of the olive tree family, ash grows abundantly throughout the U.S. and Canada, with white ash, green ash and black ash comprising the most common varieties.

This hardwood is durable, lightweight and attractive, with a straight grain and beige or pale brown hue. Its shock-resistant qualities have made it a popular material for crafting baseball bats, tool handles and furniture.

Despite being a ring-porous wood, the lightweight toughness of ash stands up to the daily wear and tear of typical kitchen use. Overall, if you’re looking for some of the best wood for cutting board woodworking, the different options available with ash make it a great option.

Surprisingly, you can buy great quality dimensional ash on Amazon. We have purchased it in the past, and we were pleased with the overall quality. Alternatively, the ash provided by Woodcraft is second to none.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Bamboo

Though humans have used bamboo for crafting shelter and tools for millennia, its popularity has soared in recent years due to new technology for mass-producing it from a round timber to a flat timber.

Though it’s biologically a grass and not a wood, bamboo is extremely dense and hard, so it doesn’t crack or warp easily and resists knife scars.

Knife scars are the bane of cutting boards, and is where water can penetrate and bacteria can grow. Bamboo’s light, modern-looking grain gives cutting boards an elegant look, and it resists staining, so it will remain attractive for years to come.

As one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, bamboo is a highly renewable resource. Bamboo plants can fully mature within several years, compared to up to 30 years for more traditional hardwoods like maple. Much of the planet’s bamboo is grown organically and harvested economically, so it’s an excellent option for crafters concerned with both sustainability and cost. All in all, if you’re looking for the best wood for cutting board creation and want something light and easy to work with, bamboo is a great choice.

However, purchasing bamboo dimensional lumber online for cutting boards is a pretty nonexistent endeavor. Your best bet is to find a local supplier.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Beech

This closed-grained hardwood boasts a solid rating on the Janka scale, offering outstanding resistance to scratches and impact without damaging or dulling knife blades.

Its small-pored surface is water-resistant and won’t collect bacteria, although its light-colored hue can make it susceptible to staining.

The large rays and fine lines found within the grain are similar to those seen in maple and birch, making it an attractive and affordable alternative to more expensive varieties. Finding beech online is a difficult process. We found very few reliable sources offering beech wood dimensional lumber for cutting boards.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Cherry

Like beech, cherry wood is a closed-grain hardwood that offers durability while remaining soft enough to protect knives from damage.

Cherry is a low-maintenance wood with a lovely red hue that darkens over time, making it an excellent choice for incorporating into mixed-wood cutting board designs.

Cherry is best used in thicknesses of two inches or more, as it can be susceptible to cracking as it ages, and it needs to be regularly oiled and maintained to extend its life. As far as online availability is concerned, cherry is one of the most common hardwoods used for cutting boards. As such, it is readily available through online retailers such as Amazon and Woodcraft.

If you’re looking for the best wood for cutting board woodworking, and want a type of wood that you’ll never have issues finding, cherry is a great choice.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Hinoki

This Japanese cypress variety is beloved by sushi chefs, as its moderate firmness won’t dull knives, and its hygroscopic nature resists water and humidity to prevent warping, shrinkage and cracking.

With a pleasant fragrance similar to pine, hinoki wood is generally white in color with a subtle pink sheen.

The wood is high in essential oils, and its phytoncide content offers an antibacterial effect for improved food safety. This wood has been used for centuries to build Japanese temples, palaces and shrines, many of which are still standing after more than 1,000 years—a history that bodes well for the longevity of your handcrafted cutting board.

All in all, if you’re looking for the best wood for cutting board creation and want something light and easy to work with, hinoki, much like bamboo above, is a great choice. However, purchasing hinoki online, much like bamboo as well, is a pretty nonexistent endeavor. Your best bet is to find a local supplier.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Maple

Maple may be the most popular choice of wood for cutting boards, with its neutral color, subtle grain and damage-resistant density.

Most maple cutting boards are made from rock maple (also known as sugar maple), which boasts a hardness of 1,450 pounds-force on the Janka scale, making it more durable than beech, teak and walnut.

Despite its hardness rating, maple still provides enough give to keep from easily dulling knives, allowing home chefs to apply ample pressure.

Maple’s small pores prevent water from penetrating the board, so bacteria growth and warping won’t be an issue; however, regular maintenance with mineral oil is recommended to keep stains on its blond-hued surface to a minimum. Maple tends to be more expensive than beech and other low-cost woods, but its longevity enhances its overall value.

As far as online availability is concerned, maple is one of the most common hardwoods used for cutting boards. As such, it is readily available through online retailers such as Amazon and Woodcraft.

If you’re looking for the best wood for cutting board woodworking, and want a type of wood that you’ll never have issues finding, cherry is a great choice.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Pecan

A member of the hickory family, pecan is one of the strongest and densest woods native to North America. Known for their durability, pecan trees can reach up to four feet in diameter and live for hundreds of years; however, its extreme hardness can make it challenging to cut and shape.

Similar to cherry wood, pecan wood develops a reddish-brown or amber hue over time, making it an attractive addition to cutting board designs.

Though its grain is primarily straight and fine, pecan can contain occasional knots or natural indentations known as “bird pecks,” which impart an interesting character to the wood. It is also closer to the open-grain end of the spectrum than other hardwoods, so frequent maintenance is critical to prevent water penetration.

Much like the Asian hardwoods above, it is difficult to find pecan wood dimensional lumber to purchase online. However, if you’re looking for an alternative to cherry for some great cutting boards, pecan is an awesome choice.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Teak

Celebrated around the world for its rich color and durability, teak is a dense, heavy wood that yields a solid, stable cutting board.

With a Janka rating of 1,070 pounds-force, teak is virtually indestructible, but its high silica content can dull knives more quickly than other wood varieties.

Shrinkage tends to be minimal with teak, making it a long-lasting, low-maintenance wood, but its initial cost is significantly higher than other popular crafting options like maple and walnut. There are plenty of places online to purchase teak slabs and dimensional lumber, including Amazon and Woodworkers Source, both linked below. If you are looking for the best wood for cutting board woodworking, teak is a wonderful option if your budget is not tightly constrained.

Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking: Walnut

best wood for cutting board walnut

Walnut is among the most well-rounded woods for creating cutting boards. Its tendency to shrink is significantly lower than that of maple and beech, reducing the frequency of maintenance needed, and it features a rich, deep-brown hue that adds elegance and beauty to your project.

As the softest of the closed-grain hardwoods used for cutting board construction, it poses little danger of damaging knife blades, although it can be somewhat vulnerable to cuts and scratches.

Its porosity offers greater resistance to water damage and bacteria growth than teak, but isn’t quite as water-resistant as beech or maple. However, the wood’s naturally dark color masterfully camouflages stains, allowing it to maintain its attractive appearance through years of use.

Overall, walnut reigns pretty supreme in the list of the best wood for cutting board options, mainly due to its wide availability in the United States and its stunning contrast when oiled. There are plenty of options online for purchasing walnut as well. I myself have purchased walnut extensively from the supplier linked below on Amazon and have been impressed with the quality every time.

Types of Wood to Avoid for Cutting Boards

Though the 10 wood varieties listed above rank as the top choices for making a high-quality, long-lasting cutting board, there are a few types of wood to avoid at all costs when planning your DIY project:

  • Oak: Despite being a hardwood, oak’s large pores create an increased risk of water penetration and bacteria growth—neither of which are desirable qualities for a kitchen tool. If you absolutely must incorporate oak into your board or already own oak wood kitchen tools, be sure to disinfect it regularly to avoid food-borne illness.
  • Pine and cedar: These readily-available species are softwoods, making them a poor choice for cutting boards due to their inability to resist damage from regular use. Ironically, softwoods can actually contribute to blade-dulling over time, since scratched or scored cutting boards can quickly diminish a knife’s sharpness.

Final Thoughts on the Best Wood for Cutting Board Woodworking

With so many excellent options for building a cutting board, it may be difficult to settle on one or even a few types of wood for your next project. Before making your choice, consider how and where you expect the board to be used and the level of maintenance it will require.

As you gain more experience in cutting board woodworking, you’ll settle on a few favorites, although it’s always fun to experiment with new woods and the unique qualities they can bring to your designs.

Leave a Comment