The Big Deal about Chopping Boards

Chopping boards for healthy living


In meat shops all over India, butchers still use a tree stump, usually from the Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree as a butcher's block. There is a reason for this: end grain wood self-heals and lasts a long time. Moreover, the natural oils in the wood of trees such as Neem are anti-bacterial.

There has been a shift towards plastic chopping boards in recent times because they are easier to clean and handle. However, they seem to have a problem: knife cuts scour deep fine lines on the plastic which can get clogged with minute quantities of food matter.

Even a minute quantity of food matter lodged inside the fine cuts in a chopping board will spoil and breed moulds and bacteria, including toxic ones that could cause chronic digestive ailments.

This is one reason many people today are going back to using wooden chopping boards particularly the end-grain ones, which are very durable and inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.

I have gone back to using wooden chopping boards but never got around to making an end grain board. I used regular Pine for making my kitchen boards which is not such a bad alternative.

Recently, I picked up a thick cross section of Neem which I decided to turn into a chopping board. Some of the cracks required filling with epoxy and the bark had to be taken off. The top and sides were smoothed by several hours of serious sanding.


Filling cracks with epoxy
 
After a lot of sanding

Adding pads

Paraffin - a food safe oil

Pouring Paraffin

Paraffin soaked

In Use

I attached four rubber pads in the base to and finished it with Paraffin Oil purchased at the local chemist. Paraffin oil has medicinal uses and is food safe. A bottle costs about Rs 150. I allowed the oil to soak in and dry in the sun for a few hours. It was then ready for use.

My wife was somewhat unnerved by the appearance of this rather large chopping board (three inches thick and two feet at its widest). She argued it would be difficult to move around but I assured her she would get used to it.

In retrospect it does seem rather large and takes up quite a bit of counter space. But the good thing is it will probably last us a lifetime!

Indranil Banerjie
12 January 2018

Comments

  1. Very good information as many times i was in confusion that what I should apply on chopping board to make it shiny. Paraffin oil is good . Thanks for updating.

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  2. Neat. One question though, where do we get the round pads from? Are they plastic or rubber? Do they have a specific name? I am stuck with using rubber washers whenever I need a friction base.

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    Replies
    1. The pads have a name but can't recall. They are available at most home center stores.

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  3. As usual awesome writing but I think it is really big for household cutting board . :). It should have some sort of a groove kind of thing to carry it easily. What does the paraffin do , is it protective sealant or just for finishing?

    Thanks
    Subhrajit

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    Replies
    1. Paraffin serves both as a finish and a sealant.

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  4. Very nice write-up never thought of neem as a cutting board wood, makes sense given the anti fungal properties.

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  5. Great article! I was just curious to know whether it would've been possible to reduce the size of the cutting board and if so why you didn't opt for it. Thanks very much.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it could have been sawn and made smaller but then it would have lost its natural edge. Also, I prefer a large chopping board because chopped stuff can be kept on the board while more stuff is being chopped, if that makes any sense.

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  6. Hi Indranil, thanks for the blog.this is excellent! I'm new to woodworking,please help me understand what is epoxy ,where to get it. Also is it something widely used in woodworking for filling cracks?

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    Replies
    1. Epoxy is a two-part chemical that forms a very hard substance once it is mixed and allowed to cure. It is widely used as an adhesive, in woodworking for filling cracks and pores. You should be able to get epoxy adhesives in any hardware store. Araldite is an epoxy adhesive.

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