cutting board

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I admit when I'm wrong. I was wrong, and never too old to learn.
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wrote:

I'll also admit that I have built several butcher blocks with the edge grain face up but my personal butcher block is end grain up. Absolutely not too old to learn.
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Actually I have heard time and a gain that wooden cutting boards and chopping blocks work well because wood does not promote a good environment for bacterial to grow.
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To be safe, you should probably use food-grade mineral oil. If you have any feed stores or tack shops in your area (for livestock), you can usually pick up food-grade mineral oil, as it's often fed to horses. I'm sure there are plenty of human-food places where you could get it too, but I don't think they have it at the grocery store. It's about $3 for a gallon of it at Tractor Supply.
The advantage of mineral oil over nut oil, olive oil, etc. is that it doesn't go rancid. The others do. It's true that oil can eventually absorb odors, but untreated wood does so much more readily.
Oil darkens the wood and gives it that "wet" look, about like it would look if you took a piece of plain wood and rubbed it with a wet sponge.
It gets abosbed by the wood a lot in the beginning and tends to evaporate eventually, so you'll have to reapply coats several times fairly frequently at first and occasionally for ever. It takes all of 30 seconds to apply the oil with a paper towel.
As far as the end grain thing goes, a true butcher-block surface is comprised of a whole bunch of wood pieces standing on end and glued together side-by-side. The big advantage of this is that if you inadvertently cut into the wood with a knife, it won't really show and it tends to "heal" itself as the grain re-swells. One disadvantage is that the much more porous surface tends to absorb odors, etc. much more readily than wood oriented so that you're cutting on side-grain (like a typical table-top). That's a big reason why extremely tight-grained woods like hard maple are usually used for butcher blocks, rather than oak or ash or other large-pored species.
Cutting boards (as opposed to butcher-blocks) are often built with the grain oriented sideways. This is certainly easier to build and doesn't suffer as badly from the absorbed-odors problem, but it will tend to show the knife-marks more. Personally, I don't think this is a big deal; it's a cutting board after all. Besides, you can resand the surface and apply another coat of mineral oil any time you want.
As far as the x-no-archive flag goes, people just don't like to feel like they're wasting their time. It's not that your questions aren't valid or that the people here aren't helpful or even downright friendly. It's just MUCH more worthwhile to take the time to answer a question when you know that the thread will be there forever for the world to read so that the same questions don't pop up over and over. The spirit of the Usenet is such that it's supposed to be a permanent record of these discussions. Using it like a chat room is against the grain of this forum (no pun intended), and it tends to piss people off.
Btw, if you suspect you have ADD, I would think you of all people would want to have a record of the questions you've asked and answers you've received. I don't think I have it, but I have to admit that I've searched the archives of this group in the past and found the perfect thread to answer my question, only to realize that it was ME who initiated the thread before asking about the same damned question. I felt like an idiot; I was just glad I had searched the archives and not just blindly posted the question. How embarassing would that be?
Josh
stryped wrote:

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Josh wrote:

He should be able to tell you, he's done it a bunch of times.
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Mineral oil is not food. It's indigestible. Stuff sold as laxitive is USP "pharmaceutical" grade.

Absolutely incorrect on both counts. Rancidity is incomplete oxidation. Keep your board open to fresh air instead of confining it or covering it, and it'll be great.
Oil doesn't "eventually" absorb odors, which, where food is concerned, are normally organic non-polar molecules. They dissolve readily in oil, not in water. That's why the board still smells even after you wipe it. If it didn't have the oil to protect it from dispersing rapidly into the air or from being mechanically rinsed away, different matter. Sort of like bacterial cell walls, which have the hydrophobic (lypophilic) side out, and stay a long time in oil when a good submersion in water would lyse the cell.
Ever notice that all the domestic stinkbombs they sell are based on oil or wax?
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George wrote:

No kidding, George. That's why I didn't say "food". I said "food-grade". DOGS for it and you'll find a thousand different sources for it. Food-grade means that it can be used to lubricate machinery which will come in contact with food. It's often fed to horses precisely because it's non-digestible and, therefore, works well to lubricate their GI tracts to lessen the risk of an impaction collic.

Rancidity is NOT incomplete oxidation. Rancidity is the presense of acids like acetic, butyric, isovaleric, etc. which happen to be breakdown byproducts of many foods and vegetable-derived oils. Complete oxidation is one way to eliminate these acids, but to use your own words, it is "absolutely incorrect" to say that rancidity is defined as incomplete oxidation. That's like defining dirt as not enough soap.
That being said, I agree 100% that keeping your board open to fresh air would more quickly oxidize any rancid food particles or oils (either from the food or as a result of oil you applied to the board) and prohibit growth of stinky anaerobic bacteria. That's the main reason why I don't oil my own cutting boards either. However, I still believe that an oiled board will be less likely to absorb food particles (not molecules) which are often suspended (not dissolved) in water. The particles will get dragged into the pores as the water diffuses in. They won't be chemically bound there or anything, just somewhat difficult to remove unless you scrub really well. Oiling the board isn't going to prevent this from happening, but it will slow it down significantly. An unoiled board will absorb onion juice a lot faster than an oiled one. Hence I said that an unoiled board will absorb odors much more readily; I failed to mention that the unoiled board would be rid of those odors much, much more quickly.

Give me a break; I was answering a question for Stryped, for crying out loud. Did you actually expect me to talk about dissolution in non-polar solvents? Of course those molecules dissolve rapidly in oil, but it generally takes a while for enough to be dissolved that it is readily apparent to the average person smelling it - not because it dissolves slowly - just because the average person doesn't chop enough smelly food at one time to saturate it. Oiled boards I've had in the past tend to get stinkier and stinkier over the coarse of months. Hence, I "eventually" switched to nonoiled boards.

I was under the impression that stinkbombs are usually based on either hydrogen sulfide or some sort of mercaptan (e.g. methyl mercaptan). As far as I know, H2S and most mercaptans are both oil- and water-soluble.
By the way, as I mentioned above, I DON'T oil my cutting boards. I agree with you that they smell better in the long run when they're not oiled. I was merely answering Stryped's question given that he was already planning on oiling the board. Mineral oil may still dissolve (and prevent oxidation of) rancidity acids, but its presence will not CREATE any of those acids. Most vegetable- and nut-derived oils will.
Smell notwithstanding, an unoiled board will develop cracks and checks much sooner than an oiled one, and people often prefer the look of an oiled board. Personally, I prefer practicality, smell, and hygiene to good looks and longevity.
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Josh wrote:

[attribution missing, here...]

Oh, I don't know... think about:
lactose + Oxy <=> CO2 + H20 lactose + Oxy <=> lactic acid
One's a complete oxidation, the other is not, but results in a fermentation product.
"Rancid" food is usually characterized by lots of acidic degradation products like you say, but which all arise from the partial oxidation of the chemicals common to foods. They aren't "byproducts" so much as stable intermediates in the oxidation process.
er
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I was thinking of incomplete oxidation as not oxidizing all the acids. You and George are saying incomplete oxidation of food = stable (and stinky) intermediate state.
Makes sense. Sorry, George.
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"stryped" wrote in message

Behlen makes a salad bowl oil finish which will work quite well for that purpose ... but you can also readily do without.
http://www.woodfinishsupply.com/SaladBowl.html
Definitely use _end_ grain as the cutting surface, not the face. That way it will be like chopping into a broom from the end, instead of across.
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Yes it is acceptable. It is non toxic and will not turn rancid like some vegetable oils will.
I recently refinished a wood island countertop and used walnut oil until it wouldn't accept any more then finished with a coat of walnut oil mixed with beeswax. Gave it a nice golden glow.
Frank
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FWIW, here's an informative link on cutting boards, their construction, finishing, care and use, by folks who do know what they are talking about:
http://www.mapleblock.com /
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On 4/12/2006 2:16 PM stryped mumbled something about the following:

It's now archived, even tho you didn't want it archived.

Don't tell me what to do, you don't control me. I'll make whatever remarks I want to make.

You put the x-no-archive in there because you don't want it archived, but we make sure it's archived for you.

Then learn to use google and reread what was told you the last time instead of continuing to look like a fool.

People have a tendency to help those who will help themselves, but you refuse to help yourself, which is why you get all the crap, and will continue to get crap.
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Just a comment about Butcher Blocks. A little bit of memory.
When I was a young man at 16, about 56 years ago, I worked in a grocery store which also had a meat counter. There was NO finish put on it, but Every day, at the end of the day when closing, the Butcher would use a very stiff wire brush to work down the surface, scraping it away with the brush until all the blood was gone, then we would sanitize both the butcher block and all of the enclosed meat counter with Ammonia. Boy did that ever clean up the blood. Now that was Pure Ammonia, NOT Sudsy Ammonia that grocery stores sell today.
Back then, you never saw the top of any butcher block that had a flat surface on the top, and that was because of the way that it was cleaned, the top soon became waive. Now those were true butcher blocks, about 3 feet square and 2 to 2 1/2 feet thick, end grain up, supported on heavy 4 X 4 legs at each corner. I have no idea how much they weighed, but I never saw one moved while they were working on it. I would take it that the end grain actually made it easier to clean, and that is why they made them that way.
Jack
stryped wrote:

SNIP
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Yep, same stuff.

Buy some, apply it, and find out. Sheesh/

That's most common. Next most common is edge-grain up. Why not actually look at a few cutting boards and see for yourself?

Not true at all. Far too often, you ask questions that you could answer on your own with only a minimal effort at experimentation or observation. Example above: what does [mineral oil] make the wood look like?
Likewise, you frequently ask the same questions over and over. Why? Hoping for a different answer?

Lots of people have been yelling at him. This is unfortunate, because he doesn't care, and the complaints won't change his behavior. Some of us still have hopes that you may change yours.

Here's why it bothers people: this group is, as you suggest below, for helping people (among other purposes). That purpose is defeated, or at least diminished, when posters deliberately prevent their posts from being archived.
On top of that, it's just plain pointless: even if your original post is not archived, if just one person quotes it in response... guess what happens.

I have ADD, too, but I manage to cope with it. Perhaps you need to try a different medication. Caffeine works surprisingly well for many people. If you don't already drink coffee, give it a try; if you do, try more.

Perhaps the time spent on woodworking (and Usenet posting) would be more productively spent in resolving those family and work issues.
Just a suggestion.

Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.
If nobody reads your posts, then you'll not receive answers to your questions either.

The kind of help you're looking for is the kind of help that a lot of third-graders look for with their homework: to have their parents do it for them.

The "crap" you have received is uniformly and universally in response to your failure to make even the slightest attempt to find out anything on your own.
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Any "food grade" oil works. Best if it's not a peanut oil because they yellow and get sticky. I regularly use walnut, both for my boards and to cook with. Great flavor!
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says...

I routinely use virgin olive oil for wooden food utensils. That's another oil that does not get sticky/resinous with age. For the first coat or two I usually thin the olive oil with vegetable turps to help it travel into the grain.
-P.
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The end of a board is made up of open pores that work like a bunch of straws. End grain up is better for knife blades. They don't dull as quickly.
Neat stuff... http://www.alladd.com/endgraincuttingboardthumbs.htm
Question for everyone...
I've got an old maple cutting board about 16" x 28" that is side cut strips (1-34" square). It has finally started separating, but the wood is solid. I'd like to rip the 16" lengths apart and re-cut them into 1-1/2" blocks to make into two end-grain cutting boards.
What's the best way to cut and make these pieces square?
I'm limited on tools, so all suggestions appreciated.
`Casper
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You have a saw? :)
There will be many options. I'd possibly try the following:
1. Since you are cutting it up, no harm in making a first cut between two center pieces [to allow use of 12" planer ...you have a planer?] I sometimes tack a 1" straight edge [1/4" precut hardboard strip will do] with a glue gun. That is a guide along the fence, on top of the wood of course, and easily removed after the cut.
2. Run the two pieces through the planer to get at least top/bottom level and parallel. You might have to shim and tack it to a bit of MDF [glue gun again] to get the first surface. Remove for the last piece, of course.
3. Back to the TS, and make lengthwise cuts. What I've done is to cut carefully enough to not have blade shimmer make a mess if the cut is tough and stressed, then recut [later] taking off just a hair ...no stress, and an even cut.
etc.... Worked for me repairing stuff for friends and family.
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says...

I would use two tools for this: a thicknesser and a radial arm saw. Put the old chopping boards through a thicknesser until both top and bottom are clean (smooth)and parallel - that's your jointing done. Get a radial arm saw set up as near to perfect as you can, clamp a stop to the fence that will determine the future thickness of the board. You can just feed the old board in from one side and cut strips off which you can turn through 90 degrees and glue back together.
If you haven't the tools, try a local joiner or the school woodwork shop (nightclasses?). This is by far the best, as well as easiest method i.m.o.
-P.
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