Avoid THESE Woods for Cutting Boards (Use THESE Instead)

A handmade cutting board with a rope handle and a knife on top.

When making a cutting board, it’s essential to stay away from wood that is considered unsafe or lacks functionality. 

What woods should not be used for cutting boards? When making cutting boards, avoid softwood, toxic wood, and porous wood. Any of those types of wood would result in a cutting board that would not last, would warp, or would potentially cause sanitation problems in your kitchen. Hardwoods, like maple or walnut, are a much better choice. 

Let’s take a look at the importance of choosing the correct wood for cutting boards and why you should avoid the aforementioned types. 

Do Not Use These Woods When Making Cutting Boards 

Choosing the right wood for cutting boards is vital as it’s linked to the safety of our foods.

Conversely, a cutting board made from the wrong wood can result in a lack of strength, quality, and protection. 

Why It Is Important To Choose the Correct Wood for Cutting Boards

Choosing the right wood for a cutting board is essential because it determines the safety and quality of the board.

Selecting the wrong wood can result in a cutting board that is not long lasting or one that could potentially cause illness due to bacteria from foods becoming trapped in the wood. 

Generally speaking, hardwoods are a better choice for cutting boards. This is because hardwood keeps knives sharp and doesn’t easily dent or scratch.

Although, there are some softwoods, such as pine, that may work for cutting boards because they are denser than some hardwoods, they really aren’t ideal as they will absorb fluids and scratch easily.

However, hardwoods are much more durable and also resistant to fire.  

Another thing to consider when choosing wood for cutting boards is porosity. The porousness of wood will determine how safe it is to use in terms of sanitation.

Open grain, also known as ring-porous, contains large pores. This type of wood allows bacteria and moisture to become trapped after cutting meat.

As a result, the bacteria grow, which can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, choosing a type of wood with smaller pores is much more beneficial.

Smaller pores decrease any chances of food poisoning while providing a longer lifespan for the board. 

Soft Woods To Avoid

Softwoods, also known as gymnosperms, make up 80% of the world’s harvested timber. While softwoods are much easier to handle in woodworking, they have disadvantages. 

Softwoods tend to be less dense, which means they aren’t solid, making them less durable. They also aren’t resistant to fires, making them hazardous.

Because they are less dense, they don’t contain enough strength to resist heat. 

Another reason to avoid some softwoods is that they don’t last long. They can quickly wear and won’t hold up well over time.

If a cutting board is made of softwood, it will easily be cut into. If there are cuts, bacteria will get inside them and live there. Here are some examples of softwoods to avoid: 

  • Pine 
  • Cedar
  • Redwoods
  • Douglas
  • Fir

All in all, softwoods don’t hold up well over time. If quality, sustainability, and sturdiness are what you look for when it comes to cutting boards, then hardwoods are best. 

Do Not Use Woods That Contain Toxins, Irritants, or Allergens

Woods that contain toxins, irritants, or allergens are hazardous for your health, so when it comes to cutting boards, it’s crucial you only use completely safe wood.

The effects of toxic wood can be life threatening, so you must know the type beforehand. 

The finished product of wood is not what causes harm; however, wood dust during the creation process poses a danger.

Wood dust is known to cause sensitivity, allergic reactions, and in some cases, severe illness. The chemical compounds in the wood lead to an array of symptoms and health risks.

These chemicals are natural and come in the form of fungi, mold, or bacteria. 

Wood dust can contact your skin, respiratory tract, eyes, and nose during handling. These effects can be broken down into several categories. 

  • Sensitizers
  • Carcinogens
  • Irritants 

Each of these is the result of the inhalation of wood dust. Some people will experience symptoms right away, while others may develop symptoms over time.

Practicing prevention is imperative. By protecting yourself with the proper gear, you significantly decrease the risk of health problems while woodworking.

Avoid Porous Wood

In general, it’s best to avoid porous wood. Wood consists of pores that can be either large or small. Larger pores are considered porous and easily allow bacteria and moisture inside timber. 

Porous wood can also become a home for moisture, leading to damage from warping.

If a cutting board is made from porous wood and bacteria is trapped inside, this could lead to sanitation problems, making the board not safe for food. 

Porous wood tends to also be significantly less durable and resistant. This could lead to even more problems when it comes to damage. 

Ideal Woods To Use When Making Cutting Boards

There are several factors to take into consideration when deciding which wood to choose to make your cutting board.

However, these woods are among the best choices as they embody most, if not all, of the characteristics of quality timber. 

A handmade cutting board with a dark stain and a homemade pizza on top.

Best Hardwoods for Cutting Boards

Here are a few examples of the best hardwoods for cutting boards:


Maple is at the top of the best hardwoods for cutting boards list. It measures 1,450 on the Janka scale, which means it’s very durable.

It also has tiny pores, which makes it much less susceptible to bacteria breeding. This also decreases the chance of any moisture staying inside the wood, making it completely food safe. 


Beech also contains tiny pores, which help to keep away bacteria. It’s very resistant to impacts and scratches.

Beech comes in close to maple as it has many of the same characteristics. This makes it perfect for cutting boards, as well as the fact that it won’t damage your knives. 


Teak consists of tight grains, which means tiny pores. Again, this helps keep the moisture away, thus creating a food-safe cutting board.

However, it’s unique in how it keeps moisture out. Teak naturally secretes oils that repel water, helping to block it out. 

Best Exotic Woods for Cutting Boards

These are some of the best exotic woods for cutting boards.


Mahogany is considered to be one of the strongest woods of all. Its strength is higher than most woods as it’s among the densest species of wood. This makes it longer lasting than most. 


Purpleheart is very popular among woodworkers for a few reasons. Its name comes from its gorgeous deep-purple hue. This is a unique characteristic for wood. Purpleheart wood is also solid and long lasting. 

It’s also very resistant and very safe. It does not cause any allergic reaction or sensitivity when used as a cutting board. 

Peruvian Walnut

Although very sturdy and robust, Peruvian Walnut is easily workable when woodworking. It has also become a rarity.

Apart from its beautiful appearance, its rareness makes it even more valuable. It’s medium dense but able to withstand wear for a long time. 

How To Seal a Handmade Cutting Board

Sealing a handmade cutting board is a process that only takes a few steps. It’s important to properly seal it as this helps to protect against discoloration, water damage, and wear and tear.

  • Squeeze mineral oil onto the cutting board.
  • Rub the oil all over the board, ensuring it’s completely covered.
  • Apply again until absorption stops.
  • Allow to dry overnight.

Related Questions:

Can You Stain a Cutting Board?

Yes, you can stain a cutting board. It’s recommended to use food-safe varnishes such as salad bowl finish. Generally, nontoxic finishes are ideal so chemicals won’t get into your food.

Oils, films, and waxes are all suitable for staining and finishing. 

Is Walnut Oil Safe for Cutting Boards?

It is safe to use walnut oil for cutting boards because it’s nontoxic. It also helps to repel water and alcohol.

Since it’s nontoxic, it won’t seep into food and cause a bad taste. It can be applied with steel wool, a cloth, or a brush. 


Woodworking is a fantastic process that yields beautiful results for many projects.

Keeping in mind which woods not to use will aid you with your project and help you create a safe, strong, and long-lasting cutting board. 










Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!