Cutting Board Woods


I have a friend who has asked me to build her a cutting board section for her kitchen island counter top. She wants it to have contracting dark wood highlights. The primary wood would be hard maple, with full length strips of the darker wood in the middle and near the sides. The overall size would be about 30" x 42".
I have some cherry that I am considering for the contrast wood. Cherry seems to meet the requirements for non-toxicity, closed grain and contrasting color, but I am a bit concerned that the cherry is a little softer than the hard maple. Maybe too soft? Comments?
Does anyone have any suggestions for other woods that would be suitable as a contrast to the lighter maple?
Thanks.
Bob
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Bob in NC wrote:

Hickory.
I have also used oak and cherry. The finish was mineral oil.
At the size you're describing, you may want to consider putting rods through it to ensure that it holds together over the years.
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Bob in NC says...

I went through the same research recently. If you cut out all the dark colored woods with open grain you aren't left with much except cherry. It's the only dark wood I completely trust. Cherry has reasonable hardness at 950 and there are several types of maple to choose from. You may want to consider soft maple. Soft red maple has a hardness rating identical to cherry. But my guess is that most soft maple is silver maple with a hardness rating of 700. At least it appears to me to be the far more common tree. There are also two common types of hard maple. Sugar maple has a hardness rating of 1450 while black maple has a hardness rating of 1180, which is a pretty good match. I don't know which is more common or which you are likely to get from a supplier. My decision was to not worry about it and use the cherry and hard maple combination.
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My thanks to Tim and Hax for your responses. I'm reassured that the maple/cherry combo will be a workable solution. It also has the magic of the cherry being on-hand. After I get the final dimensions and get a look at the counter configuration, I'll decide on the rods. Good idea, Tim.
Regards, Bob
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Warning - they'll look a lot closer in color with oil on them. Don't get your hopes too high.
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I have a board that was given to me by a friend for a bunch of scrap padauk I gave him This one is maple and padauk with a padauk breadboard on the end.
Way way to nice for cutting. Used only for non food contact, because of the look and not sure about the padauk for food. But it has the contrast you were asjking about
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Cut on it . Both woods are safe for cutting/serving food on. Did you put any type of oil on it?

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You do not state whether the person is going to use this cutting board for dry (bread) or wet (meat) applications. If dry, then you may have more options.
I made some bread boards recently and wanted the visual contrast which your friend is desiring. I used hard maple with narrow strips of black walnut. Looks great when oiled. My dimensions are about 14 x 22 which is small enough to not have to worry about differential movement. The board was initially a glued assembly with open ends. I did get some cracks at the ends and so converted this to have bread board end pieces which solved the problem.
A closer match of hardness would be hard maple and hickory which can be white or brown depending on which part of the tree the board originated.
This is a large size. Another detail to consider is relative expansion/contraction with moisture. I believe hard maple and hickory are closer in their relative dimensional changes with respect to moisture, than cherry. If I am reading the charts correctly, cherry has less movement than maple or hickory. Black walnut seems to be in between cherry and maple, closer to cherry.
Dave Paine.

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