Cedarwood is one of the most popular types of wood in the US. It is readily available and not that expensive. The one thing that makes it stand out compared to a lot of other types of wood is that it is naturally rot-resistant and it´s oils repel insects.
I personally like to use Cedarwood a lot for outside projects but it is also a great wood to use for indoor projects that need to be durable and lightweight. All these advantages, however, don´t make it seem like a good fit for making a cutting board out of it.
So in this article, I will go over the Advantages and Disadvantages of using Cedar Wood for making a cutting board.
In short, cedarwood is good for cutting boards but it´s not a perfect fit. Cedarwood is a softwood, it has natural insect-repelling oil in it, and its sawdust can cause irritations. All that can cause Cedar cutting boards to show signs of use very early and it has to be sealed properly to avoid later problems with its oil and slight toxicity.
So while you can use Cedarwood for making Cutting Boards I wouldn´t really recommend it. But if you are hellbent to make your own Cedar Cutting Board anyways then read on.
I will explain in detail what Problems Cedarwood can cause when you want to use it for cutting boards, how to avoid them, and I will also go over some advantages that come with using cutting boards made out of Cedar.
Cedar is not Safe to Use for Cutting Boards
First things first, the toxicity of Cedarwood.
When you worked with Cedarwood before then you will know that Cedarwood can be irritating to the respiratory system of the human body if it is inhaled.
It can also cause irritations to your eyes if you are not careful.
So whenever you are working with Cedarwood it is highly recommended to wear a breathing mask and goggles.
But that is only the case when you are cutting and sanding Cedarwood. So once the cutting board is finished then you won´t need to worry about that sort of irritation anymore.
The other thing is cedar oil.
Cedar oil is also slightly toxic and the main problem here. It is mainly responsible for the irritations described above.
Cedar oil is a natural insect repellant but we probably don´t want to digest any of that so we need to make sure, that the Cedarwood is properly sealed to avoid any of the oil making contact with our food.
So the main takeaway here:
Use goggles and a breathing mask while working with cedarwood and seal the wood properly and thoroughly before using it as a cutting board.
Cedar is not Hard Enough for Cutting Boards
Cedar is indeed a softwood so it will show signs of use very quickly.
Unlike other types of wood normally used for cutting boards, Cedarwood is a softwood. Meaning it is not very hard.
That will result in cuts and dents appearing much faster on a Cedarwood cutting board than on a Maple wood cutting board for instance.
But that doesn´t have to be a bad thing per se.
In Japan, a lot of traditional cutting boards are made out of Hinoki, which is a kind of cypress (cypress belongs to the family of cedar).
That type of wood is also quite soft and the Japanese prefer these softer woods for cutting boards because they don´t dull the knife blade as fast as hardwoods do.
You can always sand the cuts and dents from the surface of the cutting board once the cuts and dents have become too numerous and reseal the surface afterward.
So you don´t have to worry about it too much.
So, as you can see, softwood just like hardwood has its advantages and its disadvantages when used as a cutting board.
Softwoods can Cause Problems with Bacteria
This is closely related to the last section.
Because Cedarwood is a softwood and because cuts and especially deep cuts show up quite fast it can actually lead to problems with bacteria.
Cutting boards made out of softwoods require a lot more maintenance than cutting boards made from hardwood.
You should sand and reseal the surface of your cedar wood cutting board regularly to avoid problems with bacteria.
Bacteria can enter and grow inside a deep cut in the wood if you are not careful. This could potentially cause ill effects if you are not careful.
If you sealed the wood properly then you don´t have to worry about any bacteria forming under the surface but if the seal is damaged, by a deep cut for example, then you should fix it sooner rather than later.
All that being said I haven’t heard and I couldn´t find any sufficient evidence of any problems or food poisoning that could be traced back to bacteria that formed inside a wooden cutting board.
But I would still rather be on the safe side by sanding and reapplying the seal of my cedarwood cutting boards once in a while.
Advantages of a Cedar Wood Cutting Board
Now that I have gone over so many downsides and drawbacks of using cedarwood for cutting boards its about time that I go over the advantages of using cedarwood!
Firstly, Cedar is resistant to moisture and rot.
So you don´t have to worry too much about warping and you don´t need to be careful when washing cedarwood.
I still wouldn´t put it in the dishwasher but you don´t have to hold back when washing it by hand in any way whatsoever.
Cedarwood is also available in large chunks and it is lightweight.
So it is ideal for very large cutting boards that are still easy to handle and move from a to b.
Cedarwood does not dull the blade of the knife as much.
As I mentioned above this is a trick that the Japanese found out about.
If you use softwood for a cutting board then you are actually protecting your knife from dullness!
Softer wood doesn´t dull knives as much as maple or other hardwoods would. So if you are a fan of expensive or sharp knives then using a cutting board made out of Cedarwood might be a great idea for you.
Best Wood for Cutting Boards
If you want to make a cutting board but you don´t want to make it out of Cedarwood after you read my whole article well then here are the best types of wood to use for cutting boards.
Maple is probably the most popular choice for cutting boards.
Maple is a very hard wood while still being fairly light. Maple also accepts treatment exceptionally well making it easy to seal.
Sugar Maple or Hard Maple is the best choice for cutting boards.
If you are searching for a light-colored wood then ash is probably your best bet.
Ash is also very hard but it doesn´t accept treatment as well and it is prone to staining.
If you want a very dark wood, however, then Walnut is your best choice.
It is also a hardwood and a lot of higher-end cutting boards are made out of Walnut.
Walnut is slightly softer than Maple making it a little easier to work with and it also accepts treatment fairly well compared to Ash.