Hi, I'll post these questions here as well:
Hello, David ...
Thanks for jumping in. Your post was very helpful but it does give me a few more questions.
How much difference in hardness is there between hard maple at 1450 and purpler heart at 2000-something? How close on the scale is considered similar hardness, or, how close is close enough.
Based on your comments, I may not want to use the "interwoven" pattern similar to the one I first saw in this clip: Cutting Board Video
but I do want something more than just a broad expanse of solid maple. My current thinking would be to use a darker wood as a border around the main work surface. Would that eliminate the warping/waviness you described? How would such a design effect the longevity of the board?
If the dark wood border was not done in end grain, but the long way (I forget what that's called) and framed the working space of the cutting board, would that result in a strogner or less strong board?
I once had a dark walnut block and liked the way it flt to the knife and also liked the dark color. However, it seems that walnut is softer than hard maple. Would walnut be a good material choice fo a board? What about using it as the border material? Considering that the border would see very little use, if any, does it matter much what the border material would be?
I think that's it for now. Thanks!
Great question. Here is the reply I posted at Chef Talk.
There is a general rule for choosing the wood for a cutting board: Any wood from a tree with running sap, hard maple - maple syrup, or a tree with an edible nut, walnut, pecan oak, etc... Good woods - Hard maple, black cherry, black walnut, oak(?), pecan/hickory, alder, beech plus others.
Soft woods like pine, poplar, cedar or cypress should be avoided. Too soft and will not last long. Woods like cedar or cypress contain natural oils which keep the insects away. If the insects don't eat it, neither should you.
Some of the exotics do look terrific but should be avoided. Great for furniture but not necessarily great for a cutting surface. Some contain oils which can be toxic to humans. (Just because your friend down the street has a brother-in-law whos third cousins neighbor may have a board made from an exotic and hasn't had any ill effects doesn't mean that you won't. Some are downright dangerous.) I have seen boards made from black locust. Black locust will kill a mule if eaten. To be safe, stick with the rule of thumb as stated above.
Thickness; the thicker the better. Thin boards tend to warp, crack and split. Thicker boards are more stable although a little harder to wash in the sink. Be careful of how you pair the woods together. Softer woods wear quicker than harder woods and the resulting cutting surface can be uneven making it tough to cut on. That "handsome" match today might look like a wavy surface in the near future. Also, soft and hard woods absorb moisture at different rates which might cause some cracking in the future. You can research the hardness rating of woods using the Janka scale available on line. Look for woods that closely match each other in hardness.
David The BoardSMITH