Types of Wood Not to Use For Cutting Boards

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Every kitchen is not complete without a cutting board. It is an essential tool in food prep that comes in different shapes and sizes and is usually made from wood. However, not all woods are created equal, and some are unsafe to use as kitchen tools.  

So to keep you at ease, I’ve made this guide to explain the types of wood not to use as cutting boards. 

Woods to Avoid for Cutting Boards

There are different types of wood that you should avoid when looking at wooden cutting boards. Generally, I recommend avoiding species that are soft, highly porous, and those that have toxic properties, such as:

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Best Woods for Cutting Boards

Here are some factors you must know when choosing the right wood for your cutting board:

Softness of the Wood

When you’re in the market for cutting boards, one of the first things I’ve learned from experience is to think about the wood’s softness. Softwood isn’t the best choice as a raw material for cutting boards. They’re categorized as low-density woods since they are prone to warping and chipping. 

Some of the tendencies when using softwood for a cutting board include knife marks. This will also lead to divots from pounding meat and stains from the gaps and crevices. It is not durable overall as butcher blocks and is also not pleasing to the eyes. 


When selecting the durability of the wood for your cutting board, refer to the Janka hardness rating. This indicates the resistance of the wood to scratches and knife marks. The higher the resulting rating is, the better the wood is in terms of durability and resistance to force. 

Here are some softwoods to avoid:

Wood Porosity Vulnerable to Bacteria, Stains, and Warping

Another factor to consider when purchasing wood for cutting boards is porosity. A wood block with large pores weakens the surface leading to warping and staining. 

Highly porous wood is unhygienic, which allows the growth of mold and bacteria, so it’s a big no-no for making a cutting board. But regardless, here’s how to clear off mold from wood.

You Might Be Interested In: Is Cedar Timber Really Expensive?


You can easily discern with the naked eye if a block of wood has too many pores or not. If there are little to no noticeable pores on the surface, then you are good to go. Here are porous woods to avoid:

Wood Toxicity Levels

Some wood species have phytochemicals [1] that may be toxic when ingested. Other species of wood produce toxins that may be unpleasant to the taste. 

You may be surprised to know that some of the most appealing and beautiful woods are toxic and are not recommended for cutting boards.  

In my opinion, it just makes sense to choose wood species that are food safe, and here are some of the common toxic woods to avoid:  

pine wood slabs

These woods are recorded to produce high levels of toxicity which can be dangerous to humans once ingested. So I suggest asking your local store whether the wood used for the cutting board is toxic or not. 

Not only does the wrong wood ruin the taste of your food, but it can also be fatal.

Other Qualities That Make Certain Wood Types Unsuitable as a Cutting Board

Here are other qualities to help determine if your wood can be used in a cutting board.

cutting vegetables on chopping board

Aside from the factors mentioned above, you can also consider purchasing wood that can be conditioned to avoid shrinking, changes in shape, or warping. 

5 Best Wood Types to Use as a Cutting Board

#1: Beech

I’ve worked with beechwood quite a bit, and it’s a solid choice for making a wooden cutting board. It has small pores and does not allow the growth of bacterial colonies on the wood surface. Plus, it’s a real tough cookie – resistant to scratches and dents. Furthermore, it also keeps your knives sharp.  


However, one of the downsides when using beechwood is that it stains easily, which is very difficult to remove. This is mainly due to its light color. 

#2: Walnut

Walnut is one of the excellent types of black wood to consider for your cutting board. Its dark color is pleasing, making it suitable for creating a functional item in your kitchen. 

walnut wood

Walnut wood tends to shrink but can easily be solved when this wood is conditioned. It is durable hardwood, has low porosity, and is non-toxic. 

#3: Maple

In choosing wood, both hard and sugar maple wood can be your best option if you want to make a cutting board. It’s highly resistant to scratches but can be so dense that knives may become dull with continued use. 

maple wood

Furthermore, it is resistant to bacteria and does not stain easily. Additionally, the light color of maple wood adds an appealing aesthetic to any kitchen, complementing various styles.

#4: Bamboo

Bamboo is a grass species, but due to its wood-like properties, I’ve included it on this list. It is a type of exotic wood known as sturdy and hard, and it does not tend to absorb water. However, your knives will take a lot of beating when using a bamboo cutting board.  

See Also: How Strong is Bamboo


#5: Cherry

Cherry wood is durable and a close-grained hardwood that is suitable when making a cutting board. The distinct reddish-brown color of the wood darkens with age, giving a classic feel to your kitchen. 

Related Readings:

cherry wood

Are Wood Cutting Boards Risk-free?

A cutting board is a sanitary, safe, and essential tool, but it comes with risks, especially when using the wrong wood types. To be safe, make sure to regularly maintain your cutting board to keep germs and bacteria at bay. 

Wash cutting boards with soap and rinse under running water. Cutting boards with oils, beeswax, and food-grade mineral oils, as their finish are safe to use. 

Can You Use Pine Wood for Cutting Boards?

Pine can be used as a raw material for wood cutting boards, known to be hard and durable. This timber is quite popular and can easily be sourced in hardware shops and lumberyards. 

Interesting Read: Is Pine a Hardwood or Softwood

Pinewood comes in different sizes, so choose one that suits your needs. It is easy to maintain and lasts for a long time, making it an ideal cutting board material.  


If you’re working in the kitchen, you must have a complete set of items for food preparation, including a cutting board. But it’s imperative that you’re using the right type of wood. 

As you already know the varieties of wood not to use for cutting boards, make sure to choose one that’s durable and safe to use. 

(Know more about wood in this spruce vs pine vs fir comparison)

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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