After the kitchen knife, the second must-have item in the kitchen is the cutting board. These flat, sturdy surfaces do not only protect your counters from scratching but also protect your knives from being damaged. Of course, that is, if you are using the right one.
The best types of cutting boards for your knives are those that fit your knife best and can easily score into. Depending on the metal of your knife, if the surface you are cutting into is too hard, it will dull your knife much faster.
When I used to buy cutting boards, my choice was usually based on an emotional response. I would buy what looked pretty or I was, just like many of us, just following the trend and bought what others would buy. I had no idea what was considered good nor bad. I had no idea that I was dulling my knives or even wors was contaminating my food without realizing it. I did not know this until it was pointed out to me. I mean, if nobody tells you, you would think that these cutting boards are made in a way that it would not harm your knives right? Or you would at least think, that these manufacturers would take this into consideration, right? Wrong! They do not. In fact, even right now, there are so many types of cutting boards out there that are bad you would be shocked!
Ok so, which type of cutting board is the best for your knife?
My first answer would be wood, you may consider using a plastic board as well (maybe just for specific tasks), but wood should always be your number one choice. The biggest reason for this is, so you can easily score into it (depending on the type of wood and how the board is built). Of course, wood is not a cutting board with only advantages. There are other factors that one should think about when using a wood cutting board, such as contamination. Also, having more than one board for different tasks is something most people don’t bother with. Then there are bamboo cutting boards; bamboo is something I would personally avoid entirely because the surface is really not good at all for your knife. It is tough and not easily scored into, and you can get fragments after using it for some time. Compared to what many are saying and what is commercialized these days, bamboo is not a good option. I am sorry. It might look fancy and might be cheap (or expensive, which makes you believe it is good quality), but bamboo is a no go for me personally for the same reason as mentioned earlier, you cannot easily score into it!
What cutting boards should you avoid at all costs?
Cutting boards with hard surfaces are awful for your knives and should be avoided at all costs. But this depends on the knife’s metal and the wood of the material of your board. But, anything like glass or surfaces that are similarly hard should not be in your kitchen. The reason is very simple, the harder you hit something which you cannot score into it, the worse it is for your knife.
Does the same happen to every knife?
No, this is something that needs a little more explanation.
You see, the combination of the type of metal and type of surface is what causes dulling. As previously mentioned in simple terms, the less your knife can score into the surface, the more it will dull. Logically the next question would be, what type of surface is safe to use? And as I mentioned earlier, wood would be the best answer. But not any kind of wood. It highly depends on the type of metal of your knife.
Different types of wood
A wood cutting board is your best option out there, the question is, “Which one is considered hard and which is considered softwood?”
You can find wood species that can go from 350 hardness like the
Buckeye Burl up to 4380 hardness like Lignum Vitae (Genuine).
However, it is not common to find a cutting board made out of Lignum Vitae (Genuine). Just make sure to buy one that is not too hard for your knife.
The technical definition and measurement of hardness are done with something called the Janka scale test. This is what they use to rate the durability and hardness of the wood. It is calculated based on the pounds of pressure required to dent the wood with a metal ball. This is similar to knives with a Rockwell hardness scale. I slightly go over this subject in this article if you are interested. But the short version is, it measures how much of a dent/mark a diamond point can make in the metal with a measured amount of weight.
As you probably have noticed by now, picking the right wooden cutting board is not as easy as it seems. To help with that, I have made a simple list of wood surfaces and metal combinations. I think this will give you an excellent overview of what you should be buying based on the knife you currently own or wish to purchase.
To give you a short example, softwood ( and plastic HDPE) cutting boards are doing very well when using a stainless steel knife. The maintenance/chip risk is much lower, which is very important for your knives, but this does come at the expense of the durability of your cutting board. So you might need to consider this when purchasing.
|Cutting Board||Knife Material||Knife Maintenance|
|Knife Chipping chance||Board Life|
|Softwood|| Stainless Steel ||Medium||Low||Low|
|Hardwood|| Stainless |
|Plastic (HDPE)|| Stainless Steel ||Medium||Low||Medium|
|Softwood|| Carbon Steel ||Low||Low||High|
|Hardwood|| Carbon Steel ||High||Low||High|
|Plastic (HDPE)|| Carbon Steel||Low||Low||Low|
| Hardwood ||Rigid||Low||Medium||Medium|
Which type of cutting board is the best in general?
An excellent cutting board always should lay flat and stay put. Even if it has built-in handles or, for example, needs a wet towel to be placed underneath (a convenient method I learned in culinary school), it also needs to be easily cleaned and should not retain odor over time. Hard surface boards are a big nono, for example, glass and other hard surfaces similar to it dulls your blade very, very fast. A good cutting board should instead be one that scores easily into because if it does not, it will dull much quicker. Finally, a large surface is probably better, so it is easier to work on.
No-slip cutting boards
Having a cutting board with an anti-slip system build in makes a big difference. Not only does it prevents cutting into your fingers but also dulling your knife. When the surface beneath you slips or moves, this may lead to putting more pressure on certain angles on your knife, which eventually will dull your blade. The damage is not that significant for one or two times, but over time it does make a difference.
Based on the above, as you can see, if you own a stainless steel kitchen knife and have a hardwood cutting board, your knife twill chip or dull much faster, but you will have a cutting board that is going to last you longer. If you would go for softwood instead, you will be fine when it comes to your knife, but your cutting board would need more maintenance and might not last you that long. So this is where you need to decide for yourself which option you prefer. Since this article is about what the best types of cutting boards are ideal for your kitchen knife, look at what knife you have and what combination suits you best.
Different types for various tasks.
There are advantages of having a wooden cutting board, but for some tasks, plastic is a better option. But in the end, it all comes down to what ingredients you are cutting the most.
Which one is good for meat?
If you want a cutting board specifically for meat, I would suggest buying one only for that purpose. In most (if not all) cases, you need at least two cutting boards—one for meat, fish and poultry, and one more for anything else. Why? Let’s say, if you cut a raw chicken and then use the same cutting board to vegetables for your salad, you run the risk of cross-contamination. Basically, there are big chances bacterias from the chicken will be transferred to your tomato. There are many types of wooden boards out there. Classically they are made of hardwood such as teak, maple, Walnut. The bamboo cutting board is also a good option. In most cases, cutting boards are made with other kinds of wood, but the best quality wood, are the ones I have mentioned earlier.
Which one is good for Vegetables?
If you are mostly chopping a lot of vegetables, I would like to go for a traditional wooden cutting board. Pumpkins potatoes and carrots are easier handled on a sturdy surface of a wooden board. Also, at the same time, it allows you to do better precise cuts than on a much less qualitative synthetic board. Vegetables with a lot of flavor like onion and garlic, however, will most likely penetrate a plastic board on the other hand, which is not as susceptible to the strong smell, and the scent can be scrubbed off.