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Wood Cutting Boards: The Topic


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Im a woodworker and make my own cutting boards for years. I have a good source of bird's eye maple and use that.

end grain makes a very long lasting cutting board. its very difficult to work with and properly level without high end power tools. the sandpaper just 'cuts' between the fibers that run perpendicular to the surface. the boards ive made i use a drum sander very very carefully.

the disadvantage of endgrain is that food gets pushed into the wood fibers and if not cleaned carefully might be a health hazzard in a commercial kitchen. I know butchers with those large end-grain table blocks that used to be ubiquitous in butcher shows use bleach.

the LeeValley scraper is an ideal tool, but difficult to master. it works extremely well on figured wood. but you have to know how to keep it flat and create that thin burr. videos might help

and when creating that burr you use a steel rod with a higher hardness than the softer scraper. you bear down a lot and if not careful you can get spectacular injuries to your hands.

good luck.

i still feel for presentation a lighter colored board might show off the food better.

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Compressive strength is closely related to hardness.

There are many kinds of bamboo.

Young bamboo and mature bamboo are different.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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"-----the LeeValley scraper is an ideal tool, but difficult to master. it works extremely well on figured wood. but you have to know how to keep it flat and create that thin burr. videos might help

---"

Get carbide planner knife blades on eBay. They are sharp, long lasting, and give you a very flat surface because they are very long.

dcarch

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carbide blades are an interesting idea

might they not 'chip' when used as a push scraper: there design is that the force of the cutting is with the width of the blade not against the thin sharp edge.

I cant seem to make this any clearer by what I mean by with of the blade-metal vs the thinness of the edge.

one is perpendicular to the other, and the cutting has the strengh of at least 1/4 to 1 " of steel behind it vs a minimal amount perpendicular to the sharp edge

think using your fine fine japanese knives as a scaper vs a cutter.

interesting thought though

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"-----the LeeValley scraper is an ideal tool, but difficult to master. it works extremely well on figured wood. but you have to know how to keep it flat and create that thin burr. videos might help

---"

Get carbide planner knife blades on eBay. They are sharp, long lasting, and give you a very flat surface because they are very long.

dcarch

Prior to the 1840's there was no sandpaper--it didn't exist, yet fine furniture with was made--and with perfectly smooth surfaces and finishes.

A cabinet scraper is not a knife, and does not have a knife edge. It has a bur, and it is this bur that does all the cutting.

The bur is created by getting two surfaces at a 90 egree angle, and then deforming, or mushrooming one surface so it rolls over creating a bur. Definitely not a knife.

You pull this tool along, and the action is something like pulling butter curls off of a block of butter.

I use this tool to keep all of my wood counter tops clean at work, and at home use it to scrape wood smooth prior to finishing. In many cases it is far superior to sandpaper

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Tensile strength is pretty closely related to hardness, actually.

The idea that bamboo is harder than steel (even mild steel) does seem quite odd to me, actually. Bamboo is not a homogenous material - perhaps there's long strands with high tensile strength surrounded by some other structure?

Anyway I happen to have a bamboo cutting board in the kitchen and a portable Rockwell C hardness tester at work. I could do a test and post results if anyone cares.

I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be looking at.

http://www.gordonengland.co.uk/hardness/hardness_conversion_1c.htm

This page shows only a limited range of UTS so I assume it is for ferrous alloys only?

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Compressive strength is closely related to hardness.

There are many kinds of bamboo.

Young bamboo and mature bamboo are different.

dcarch

For steels, hardness is approximately proportional to tensile strength. This is the first time I've heard it compared to compressive.

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Compressive strength is closely related to hardness.

There are many kinds of bamboo.

Young bamboo and mature bamboo are different.

dcarch

For steels, hardness is approximately proportional to tensile strength. This is the first time I've heard it compared to compressive.

Can you think of materials that can take a lot of compressive force that are not hard?

dcarch

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A steel woodworker's scraper gets dull at some point, then you will need to create the burr again, as was said. A carbide blade lasts for much longer (50 times longer?)

There is another trick; you can buy microscope glass blank slices and use them as scrapers. It will give your wood a mirror smooth finish.

dcarch

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Tensile strength is pretty closely related to hardness, actually.

The idea that bamboo is harder than steel (even mild steel) does seem quite odd to me, actually. Bamboo is not a homogenous material - perhaps there's long strands with high tensile strength surrounded by some other structure?

Anyway I happen to have a bamboo cutting board in the kitchen and a portable Rockwell C hardness tester at work. I could do a test and post results if anyone cares.

I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be looking at.

http://www.gordonengland.co.uk/hardness/hardness_conversion_1c.htm

This page shows only a limited range of UTS so I assume it is for ferrous alloys only?

What I intended to show is that hardness and tensile strength are directly related. There are even charts and calculators that will perform approximations between tensile strength and the various hardness scales (you shouldn't really try to convert one sort of hardness measurement to another, since different tests measure subtly different things, not that I have to tell you this...).

The chart is for ferrous alloys, yes. However the same applies to alloys of copper, aluminum, etc. I haven't seen a chart that shows this for wood but I haven't seen a hardness chart for wood, period. I suspect the measured hardness of a given wood sample (including bamboo) would be different depending on whether it's measured parallel to the grain or perpendicular it, because of the way the fibers are organized.

Blah blah blah, materials nerdery.

I think bamboo boards are pretty nice.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Bamboo boards can be nice, but a great many aren't, and it's almost impossible to tell the difference before buying. The trouble is that they're made of very small pieces of bamboo glued together, so the glue itself forms a substantial portion of the cutting surface. Many of the glues that get used are very hard ... much harder than the bamboo itself, and outside the recommended hardness range for cutting boards. They can be unecessarily rough on knife edges. Bamboo itself comes in a range of hardnesses, from softer than what's ideal for cutting boards to harder. I just wouldn't know how to buy one.

Notes from the underbelly

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This is the company that made my bamboo board... it's not precisely like this, but the main body of it is:

http://www.amazon.com/Totally-Bamboo-Kauai-Cutting-Board/dp/B00012V15K

I find it stable and heavy enough not to move while using it, while nowhere near as heavy & unmaneuverable as my thick walnut end-cut board (and I have to do a lot of shuffling in my kitchen due to very limited counter space).

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I have this same bamboo cutting board. it has caused me no problems that I can tell and is attractive.

most of my cutting boards are home made birds eye maple.

didnt know there were so many variations on bamboo. the one above is also carried by Bed&bath where most things are %20 off with those ubiquitous coupons.

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A steel woodworker's scraper gets dull at some point, then you will need to create the burr again, as was said. A carbide blade lasts for much longer (50 times longer?)

There is another trick; you can buy microscope glass blank slices and use them as scrapers. It will give your wood a mirror smooth finish.

dcarch

Even on carbide, the burr won't last forever, and it is the burr that cuts feathery thin shavings. Getting a new burr on carbide isn't easy, and it is for this reason that scrapers are just plain steel with a rc hardness of around 45-50.

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I do hope someone can put right rather bamboo boards a bad deal or not. I use an end grain bamboo board that I bought from Epicurian Edge, a high end knife shop here in the Seattle area.

I doubt they would carry something that would hurt their main product lines, however, I will call them and get their view.

As for good board scrapers, I use a ceramic scraper ,which cost less than $20 and I doubt I can wear it out ever, drop and break, perhaps.

Edited by RobertCollins (log)

Robert

Seattle

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Saw the link on the ceramic scraper.

A card scrper and a cabinet scraper are different animals from a scraper with a knife-like edge. I do believe I mentioned this in my above post(s).

The card and cabinet scrapers (and scraping planes) have a burr on them which can remove insanely thin layers of matierial--wispy feathery thin layers. It is the equivelant of using sandpaper but produces no dust, and gives a very smooth surface quickly without the need of going through several grits of paper.

Please, beore anyone else suggests the use of a tool that is superior to a card or cabinet scraper, check out "using a card scraper" on you-tube, or try it out yourself.

Microscope slides are pretty small, inch and a half, if I remember from highschool, and a cutting board is usually over 12" wide by anywhere from 10" - 24" long. They(microscope slides) will work--for people with a lot of time and an unlimited supply of band-aids.

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Its my impression that 'ceramic' is more like 'glass' very though glass at that but not like metal

ie good luck bending it.

there for I cant imagine putting a 'burr' on ceramic material

id love to learn more about this and it fun to be wrong

:blink:

so Id like to see the 'burr' on a ceramic item

:huh:

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Serveral points:

1. Ceramic blade is brittle, but almost as hard as diamond, a ceramic scraper will remain sharp a long long time.

2. You cannot create a burr on a carbide scraper. Carbide is also extremely tough, only diamond tools can work on carbide. A carbide scraper will also last extremely long.

3. A microscope slide cover is about 1" x 1", but not a slide blank.

dcarch

picture shows my many carbide scrapers, including the first 3 from the left, which are custom made carbide scrapers.

scraper.jpg

This picture shows the mirror shine a glass microscope slide blank can put on wood. The scratches were made by sandpaper.

scraper2.jpg

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Well I do know about microscope slides from my college years as a Biology major. Never thought of using them to clean/surface my cutting boards. Nice use.

I am not a wood worker and so I am unfit to argue about which scraper type to finish furniture or polish wood for whatever cause but I have followed the advice of a friend and bought this Kyocera scraper a couple years back. Been using it since. It works for me. Add a bit of mineral oil and presto, a clean well oiled board that no longer has the smell of the onion and garlic that a few minutes before it reeked of. Less than 5 minutes, more like three.

Now I went to the pantry and read the Kyocera packing and it says it is for cleaning boards. The link I pulled off Google was truly random to the extent it was the first picture on my search. Just went to it and found the price on that site $14. I paid $20 locally. Darn.

Robert

Seattle

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Serveral points:

1picture shows my many carbide scrapers, including the first 3 from the left, which are custom made carbide scrapers.

scraper.jpg

This picture shows the mirror shine a glass microscope slide blank can put on wood. The scratches were made by sandpaper.

Yes, they are lovely scrapers.

If you read my posts (plural,) card and a cabinet scrapers use a burr to do the job. The edges of card and cabinet scrapers meet at a 90- angle and a burr is (very) purposely rolled. It is NOT a knife edge.

As old fashioned and back-azzwards as this technology may seem, it has been adopted by woodworkers for centuries--and many modern woodworkers still use this this simple tool for smoothing woods prior to staining or varnishing. It is also the tool of choice for modern luthiers (musical wood string instrument makers) and for marquetery and inlay work.

It (card and cabinet scrapers) is an ideal tool for smoothing cutting boards, and I use it almost every day for my maple topped work tables at work.

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Tensile strength isn't the same as hardness, or abrasiveness.

Tensile strength is pretty closely related to hardness, actually.

The idea that bamboo is harder than steel (even mild steel) does seem quite odd to me, actually. Bamboo is not a homogenous material - perhaps there's long strands with high tensile strength surrounded by some other structure?

Anyway I happen to have a bamboo cutting board in the kitchen and a portable Rockwell C hardness tester at work. I could do a test and post results if anyone cares.

I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be looking at.

http://www.gordonengland.co.uk/hardness/hardness_conversion_1c.htm

This page shows only a limited range of UTS so I assume it is for ferrous alloys only?

What I intended to show is that hardness and tensile strength are directly related. There are even charts and calculators that will perform approximations between tensile strength and the various hardness scales (you shouldn't really try to convert one sort of hardness measurement to another, since different tests measure subtly different things, not that I have to tell you this...).

The chart is for ferrous alloys, yes. However the same applies to alloys of copper, aluminum, etc. I haven't seen a chart that shows this for wood but I haven't seen a hardness chart for wood, period. I suspect the measured hardness of a given wood sample (including bamboo) would be different depending on whether it's measured parallel to the grain or perpendicular it, because of the way the fibers are organized.

Blah blah blah, materials nerdery.

I think bamboo boards are pretty nice.

There aren't any Rockwell hardness charts for wood/bamboo, because it's not homogeneous, like metals or ceramics. There can be a big void, relative to the size of the structural material that it's right next to, and the human tester will never know.

Take your board in and test it in 5-10 different locations. I will bet that you will get a very wide range of results. Much wider than you will with, say, a piece of steel that you test immediately before or after the board.

Tracy

Lenexa, KS, USA

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I do hope someone can put right rather bamboo boards a bad deal or not. I use an end grain bamboo board that I bought from Epicurian Edge, a high end knife shop here in the Seattle area.

I doubt they would carry something that would hurt their main product lines, however, I will call them and get their view.

It's very difficult to know for sure. There are good bamboo boards and bad ones. Probably many more bad than good, but I think your inclination is right to trust Epicurian Edge. They take their products seriously and probably research everything they sell.

As far as hardness measurements for wood (someone else's question) the measurements indeed exist. The most common measure is the Janka scale. You can find charts all over the web. It's confusing, because similar woods from different regions measure radically differently. What I've been told is that the ideal hardness range for cutting boards is 1200 to 1600 or so. Lower and they're not durable enough; higher and they're hard on knife edges.

With bamboo cutting boards, the issue is more with the copious amounts of glue than with the bamboo itself. Most cheap bamboo boards are essentially bamboo-reinforced glue, so the hardness / abrassiveness of the glue is what's at issue.

Ok, sorry for the interruption, gentlemen. Please continue with the microscope slides and rockwell hardnesses of unobtanium.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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