6 Best Woods for Cutting Boards (Easy to Care For)

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Web Operator

Making your own cutting board in your workshop is a quick and easy project to complete, and it’s pretty much impossible for you to go ahead and get it wrong. Thankfully, there are several kinds of wood that will work well for making a cutting board. Beech, walnut, maple, cherry, teak and acacia will all work, and those woods are recommended.

You see, while you think any old type of wood will suffice with something as simple as a cutting board, that’s not the case. Instead, some careful thought has to go into it, and this is something that most people just do not realize when producing an object such as this in their workshop. 

Now, I understand if I’ve stopped you in your tracks and made you start to think about the wood you are using but don’t worry. What you will find below is my list of the six best kinds of wood to use when making a cutting board. 

For me, wood that is to be used in this way needs to have specific criteria. You clearly need to think about the health implications, and there are just some types of wood that are not the perfect choice for this type of item. Don’t worry though, I will take you through that later, and make sure you don’t run into any problems or difficulties.

But over the next few minutes, you will quickly gain a new understanding of why only specific types of wood should be used and also which options are the best for you.

best woods for a cutting board

Why Choosing the Correct Wood is Important

Just before I dive into the six best kinds of wood for a cutting board, I need to explain why you should not go ahead and simply choose a random piece of wood and cut it to size.

The main reason is your health, and that should have made you sit up and take notice. Yes, you need to think about more than just how a particular wood will cut or how easy it is to sand it down.

The problem is that you will be cutting something on the board that you will then be eating, but not all wood is safe for you to work on it like that. Instead, some wood species are toxic to us humans, and cutting something on there and eating it does mean there’s a risk attached.

Now, I’m not saying that it will always be the case that using wood that is potentially toxic will lead to problems, but is it worth taking that risk when you can so easily avoid it?

In addition, some wood is too easy to damage, and you will be using sharp knives on there. The wrong wood will then display all the marks from knives, and you then have the problem of remnants of whatever you have been cutting sitting deep in those grooves and scratches.

I’m sure you can then start to imagine how this doesn’t really work out well from a health perspective.

Those two reasons are why you need to focus on wood that is tough, durable and won’t potentially make you ill. These points will narrow down the options you have, and then you also have wood that splinters and breaks off too easily. 

With that part, think of something such as Douglas fir. It’s a great wood, but just not for something like this. The chances of small fragments of wood breaking off by you cutting on it will be higher than you expect, and those small fragments could make their way into your food.

I’m sure you will see how that’s a horrible thought. But I’m not going to allow that to happen to you.

So, let’s start working through your options, and you do have several available to you.

1. Walnut

walnut wood for cutting board

For me, walnut is one of the best options out there for a cutting board. Not only is the wood attractive to look at, but it’s also of the correct hardness. That means it’s not going to damage so quickly, but at the same time, it also won’t hurt your knives either.

But there’s more to it than those couple of points because, in all honesty, walnut is a fantastic wood to work with for several reasons. Also, it’s very easy to cut and shape even if you have never worked with it before on any project.

Walnut has a natural anti-bacterial property, and that’s great news for us. Also, it is non-toxic, so there is nothing to worry about from that perspective. Your health will not be in any danger should you use walnut for your cutting board.

But caring for walnut will also prove exceptionally easy. You can condition it in next to no time, and it stays like that for months without a problem. Also, the pores with walnut are very close together, so it makes it harder for that mold and those germs to set up home deep in the wood.

But walnut also works well for both cutting things on and also if you are presenting on a cutting board. The color and grain pattern look great, and it lasts a long time if you do actually look after the wood correctly.

I feel that walnut would be one of the woods I would look at checking out first. With the correct care, it’s going to last a lifetime, and it’s the type of wood that also looks better as it ages. However, from a cutting perspective, it won’t let you down.

The Pros of Using Walnut

  • It looks gorgeous, so will stand out in any kitchen
  • It doesn’t damage too easily when in use
  • It is naturally anti-bacterial
  • It is non-toxic to humans
  • You can easily cut and shape the wood to get a unique cutting board

2. Maple

maple wood for cutting board

Another option is maple, and I see this as another fantastic wood to use for your cutting board. As with walnut, it’s non-toxic, so there is no stress in that area. However, it is a bit harder than some other woods, but still not hard enough to cause a problem with your kitchen utensils.

That hardness also leads to another positive factor, and that’s durability. There’s no doubt that maple is highly durable under these circumstances, which means you can expect your cutting board to last for a long time. Also, even though it’s a harder wood, you will be able to cut it without too many problems.

However, I admit that it will only last if you regularly condition it, but then that’s the same for pretty much any species of wood out there. Also, this wood does have a tendency to pick up stains with amazing ease, so if that’s something that concerns you, then maple would not be the correct choice.

Yet, even with that staining issue, I feel maple is a wonderful choice. It looks impressive, and the conditioning aspect is also very straightforward. Add in the fact that maple is pretty resistant to scratches, and you have a cutting board that is highly functional and easy to care for.

Finally, the pores in maple are also tiny, so that helps to make the wood even safer to use over a prolonged period of time. Those tiny pores do not allow bacteria or germs to really take hold in the wood, while it also means cleaning the board is not so difficult.

Once again though, what you have here is a gorgeous wood that will work well by not splintering or being too easy to damage when cutting. It’s pretty much the perfect wood for this type of object. 

The Pros of Using Maple

  • It is naturally anti-bacterial
  • It has the perfect hardness for a cutting board
  • It won’t splinter
  • It’s tough to scratch and cut the wood when in use
  • It’s still easy to work with in order to produce the cutting board

3. Cherry

cherry wood for cutting board

Another option is cherry wood, which I see as being very similar in style to the two options I’ve mentioned above. The coloring of cherry wood is impressive, and the reddish tinge that comes with it does mean this type of cutting board will really stand out.

It also manages to fall into the perfect hardness rating. That means it’s sturdy enough to not simply split or crack, but it’s also not too hard that it will then start to damage blades or make them blunt before their time.

But there’s another massive point regarding cherry that I feel will be important, and that’s to do with the conditioning. Cherry wood needs little in the way of maintenance, so you can do it less compared to other woods you may be contemplating using.

I’m not saying that it needs no maintenance at all. That would be wrong. However, a quick oiling will prove to be perfect, and it will then last for a considerable time before you have to think about doing it again.

But it’s not all plain sailing when it comes to cherry. I do find that it can become dented a bit too easily. Also, it picks up stains without too many problems, and that’s annoying if you want your cutting board to remain in pristine condition. A bit of sanding may be required to get it back looking its best.

For that reason, while it does work well as a chopping board, I would certainly look at other options first. However, if you do love the appearance of cherry, then that could be a good enough reason to go for it. 

The Pros of Using Cherry

  • It’s a gorgeous wood and looks amazing as a kitchen utensil
  • It requires next to no maintenance
  • It won’t just split or crack when being used

4. Teak

teak wood chopping board

It’s very easy to find a teak cutting board in most stores, and that’s for a good reason. Not only is it robust enough to cope with what you are cutting on it, but the wood also looks beautiful at the same time. 

Oiling up a teak cutting board will make it look stunning, but it’s not just the looks you should be checking out. Instead, the teak will not dent or scratch too easily, and that means it will continue to be a functional item for longer than some other options out there.

But teak is a solid piece of wood. It will not produce too much in the way of scars, even after repeated use. However, it requires you to oil it regularly to ensure it continues to look good, while the conditioning will also help keep things healthier. 

But I love the grain and general way teak acts. It has something of a polished effect to it, and that’s going to also help when it comes to the cleaning aspect. The pores and grain are not problematic, so I don’t see you having much in the way of a problem regarding the potential for mold spores to develop deep in the wood.

It may be slightly more expensive to purchase when compared to other options, but with the time it will last, then I think it’s well worth the extra cost.

Ultimately, if you want your cutting board to really look almost extravagant, then this is the wood for you. It just has a pristine feel about it all, and it does require less in the way of maintenance, which is always a nice little bonus. 

The Pros of Using Teak

  • It needs almost no maintenance
  • It comes across as a plush wood
  • It doesn’t allow mold to form in the wood making it safe for humans
  • It looks highly polished and is gorgeous to look at
  • It’s anti-bacterial

5. Acacia

acacia wood for cutting board

While you may not be familiar with using acacia wood for various projects, it is a material that is widely used when it comes to kitchen utensils. So, buying it to make your own cutting board makes a lot of sense.

Acacia wood is resistant to water, is non-toxic to us, and it’s also going to be gentle on your knives. Basically, it ticks all the boxes that you need from this type of item. 

But acacia is also sourced sustainably, which is essential for many people. Add in durability, which it has in abundance, and you quickly see that acacia wood has a lot going for it. This explains why its popularity has soared in recent years, and you also tend to see it popping up in more stores making it easier to get your hands on some.

But I should also add another important factor. Acacia wood has a natural anti-microbial coating. That’s excellent news, and even though you do still need to condition it regularly, it should help eliminate some of the stress associated with using it as a cutting board. Basically, the wood does a fantastic job of helping kill off those germs and bacteria that love to set up home on your cutting board.

Finally, the wood is both beautiful to look at and also very easy to clean. Managing to keep this in tip-top condition is easy and requires little work from you. Overall, it’s a fantastic choice and one I think you should give some serious consideration to. 

The Pros of Using Acacia

  • It’s very easy to keep clean
  • It has a natural anti-microbial coating
  • It takes little work to keep the wood looking amazing
  • It’s anti-bacterial
  • It’s resistant to water and is non-toxic

6. Beech

beechwood plank for cutting board

The last option I want to mention is beech, which you may be familiar with since it’s a common wood for kitchen countertops and various utensils. Like every other kind of wood I’ve mentioned above, it’s non-toxic to us, so you can use it without stressing about that type of thing.

Beech is also easy to work with from the woodworker’s perspective, so shaping your beech cutting board should never prove problematic. 

In many ways, beech shares a number of close characteristics with maple. It is not too porous, which is something I will explain the importance of later, while it’s hard but not over the top where it will damage your knives.

Beech is pretty robust, and it’s not going to simply dent or scratch the first time it’s used. Instead, it will manage to maintain its often pristine appearance for some time before it even begins to look as if it has been a well-used cutting board. 

But I also love beech for another reason: the cost. Beech does tend to be less expensive than other options on the market, and yet it doesn’t look inexpensive when you see it in action.

Instead, it’s a fantastic wood to look at with straight grain that gives the wood more than enough strength to contend with whatever you end up doing on your cutting board. 

Finally, looking after your beech chopping board is not a regular event. Instead, minimal conditioning is required, but you do need to pay close attention to the surface to see when you perhaps need to add some oil to the surface in order to then protect it. 

The Pros of Using Beech

  • It needs minimal conditioning to keep it looking good
  • It’s very inexpensive, so perfect if you are on a budget
  • It’s robust and doesn’t scratch or dent too easily
  • It’s non-toxic to humans, which is always a bonus

Things to Remember When Choosing Wood for a Cutting Board

best wood for cutting board

In the beginning, I said that not every type of wood was suitable for a cutting board, but I need to explain why that’s the case. After all, it will help you when determining the type of wood you should be going for.

So, here are a few critical points you really cannot afford to overlook.

The Toxicity

I accept that I will probably scare you a bit here, but I need to talk about toxicity because who wants to use a cutting board if it’s toxic? 

Some wood would be seen as toxic, and the best way to avoid this potential issue is via a single point: is the wood from a tree that produces a fruit or a nut? You can also add maple to this, thanks to the syrup.

The idea here is that if we can eat something that comes from the tree, then the wood is also not going to be toxic to us. After all, how could it be if we could eat parts of it?

As long as you keep that in mind, then I don’t think you have much to worry about here. Also, if you feel somewhat unsure about things, then just check online to see if the wood you are looking at falls into the toxic category. However, if you stick with one of the six I’ve mentioned above, then there would be no need to do that. 


Wood comes with a hardness rating, called the Janka rating, and this is something that you often need to pay attention to. However, when it comes to a cutting board, you need to think about the opposite of what you usually do.

You see, while a higher hardness rating is often good, that’s not the case here. Instead, I would suggest you stay away from wood that comes with a higher rating, even though I know it’s tempting to just go right for it.

A softer wood is best for a cutting board because wood with a higher rating will end up damaging your knives faster than wood with a lower rating. Instead, what you should be doing is looking for a wood with a lower to mid rating, as that should suffice.

But hold on a minute. Even though I just spoke about softer wood, I don’t necessarily mean softwood. Instead, I’m still talking about hardwood, but those that are not as solid as the likes of oak or mahogany.

Softwood is also a wrong choice because it’s more likely to just splinter and crack through use. You don’t want all of those crevices to appear on your cutting board simply because it’s impossible to get them hygienic and clean when you have huge splits.

So, still opt for a hardwood option, but with a lower rating to ensure you have the perfect wood for a cutting board. 

Also, it should be pretty easy to work with, and each of the options listed above will prove to be perfect in this instance.

Is it Porous?

Wood is porous, but not all wood is the same. Also, how porous the wood is for a cutting board will prove to be an important point.

Some wood species have larger pores. Those pores allow for bacteria and germs to work their way into the wood and also from whatever you have been cutting there, and you just cannot get it clean. Those larger pores will also create the perfect environment for mold to develop and moisture to simply sit there, posing a health risk.

That’s why you need to choose a wood that has smaller, tighter pores. It’s significantly safer for your health. 

For me, those are the key things to remember when choosing a cutting board. I know there are other areas, such as the color of the wood, but those are easier to think about compared to the points I’ve mentioned above.

Overall Conclusion

Those are the six different types of wood I would suggest you use when it comes to making your own cutting board. They are not toxic, and nor will they effectively damage your knives and wear them down in an instant.

Making a cutting board is easy to do, but to make life even easier, check out these articles that will guide you toward the best tools and place to buy wood to get you started.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.