My friend Holton Rower made me a cutting board from a hard wood log called Arbutus that he found on his land in the Pacific NorthWest. He had the board cut by a friend who has a saw mill, then carved “Golly’s Food” into it with a chisel, Golly being my nickname. Holton’s cutting board defies the usual modern thinking about cutting boards that is fearful of any cracks on the theory that they can harbor germs. Holton’s has a knot and a couple of natural cracks in it which is part of it’s beauty; I know this board is from a tree and enjoy that knowledge when I cook, an inspiring piece of REAL in a city kitchen.
Having read the arguments for and against wood and plastic cutting boards, I use wood boards because I like the way they feel and enjoy that intangible connection to trees and nature. (And wood cutting boards seem to beat plastic for their natural anti-bacterial properties.) I use Holton’s board mostly for cutting vegetables and bread; there’s enough expanse of clear cutting space that I don’t worry about the knots and cracks. I reserve other boards for meat or fish.
The fact is, just about any smooth slab of hard wood – cherry, maple, walnut for example – makes a fine cutting board, an idea that has lots of potential in an under-equipped kitchen or if you favor a specific shape or look in a board, or you come across a cache of interesting wood. It got me thinking and I started poking around Woodfinder, a wood search site, to see what kinds of wood I might find if I wanted to make a cutting board. One thing led to another and I came across an Ebay store called Cook’s Wood that holds auctions of exotic woods in small lots. I started to imagine what I could do with a 34-x-13-3-inch piece of English Walnut.
I could take it to a lumber yard and have it cut it any shape (there’s all sorts of possibilities) I want though it’s so beautiful, I’d probably leave it whole. I imagine the board might need a little sanding and then a good oiling with boiled linseed oil to bring up it’s luster.