Is Hickory Good for Cutting Boards? Find Out Now!

Ever wondered if that beautiful hickory wood is the right choice for your kitchen’s cutting board? Let’s delve into its pros and cons to discover the truth!

Is Hickory Good for Cutting Boards

Hickory is a strong, hard, and shock-resistant wood that is commonly used for furniture making, cabinetry, and flooring.

When it comes to kitchen equipment, you need to have a good knowledge of what woods work best for the purpose since they regularly get in contact with your food.

When I was working with Hickory on kitchen utensils, I was curious about using them to make cutting boards.

So, I did some research with woodworking and food experts in my area.

Now with experience, here’s what I know about, Is Hickory good for cutting boards?

Hickory isn’t good for cutting boards since it is an open-grained wood with a porous structure. The food particle can trap inside of Hickory wood and bacteria can grow in the pores. Maple, beech, teak, and walnut are better woods for cutting boards due to their smaller pores structure.

But that’s just a quick snapshot.

Where can we send your
FREE Beginner Woodworking Guide?

    Privacy Policy: We hate spam and promise to keep your email address safe.

    There is a lot more to know about whether is Hickory good for cutting boards with its properties.

    In this article, I’ll explore the pros and cons of Hickory for cutting boards, is Hickory wood safe for food, why Hickory is too porous for cutting boards, and many more.

    Also, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    So, let’s jump in!

    Hickory cutting boards
    Hickory cutting boards

    Can Hickory Be Used for Cutting Boards?

    Yes, Hickory can indeed be used for cutting boards. But like with many things in woodworking, it comes with its own unique set of benefits and challenges.

    Let’s explore this topic further to understand better why some people might choose to use hickory for their cutting boards, despite the few hurdles.

    The Strength of Hickory

    One of the major reasons why people might be attracted to Hickory for their cutting boards is its sheer strength and durability.

    Hickory is a hard, durable wood that can withstand a lot of use, making it perfect for those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

    This means that a cutting board made from the hickory is less likely to be damaged by knives and could potentially last for many years with the right care.

    In fact, hickory is so tough that it’s been traditionally used in making tool handles, such as those for axes, because of its ability to withstand force.

    Imagine that level of toughness in your kitchen, certainly, a board that can withstand the test of time!

    Did you know fact about using hickory wood for cutting boards
    Did you know fact about using hickory wood for cutting boards

    The Aesthetic Appeal

    Beyond just the practical considerations, hickory also boasts a beautiful grain pattern that can bring a touch of natural beauty to any kitchen.

    It’s certainly a stylish choice, adding warmth and a hint of rustic charm to your cooking space.

    Imagine presenting your homemade sushi or cheese selection on a beautiful hickory board when you have friends over.

    The board itself becomes part of the dining experience.

    Hickory Is Challenging to Work With

    Now, while Hickory has a lot going for it, it’s not without its challenges. Because it’s such a hardwood, it can be more difficult to work with.

    It’s essential to ensure you have sharp, high-quality knives to avoid damaging them.

    Moreover, hickory is an open-grained wood, which means it has small spaces where food particles can get trapped.

    This could potentially harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly, so thorough washing after each use is critical.

    Tip for using hickory wood for cutting boards
    Tip for using hickory wood for cutting boards

    Caring for Hickory Cutting Boards

    Proper care can extend the life of your hickory cutting board and mitigate some of the potential downsides.

    Washing the board after each use with a damp cloth and mild soap, rinsing well, and then drying it completely can help prevent bacteria buildup.

    In addition, regular oiling (once a month or more, depending on use) can help maintain the board’s health and appearance.

    Food-safe oils, like mineral oil or coconut oil, can be used for this purpose.

    This prevents the wood from drying out and cracking, keeping it beautiful and functional for years.

    As you can see, yes, hickory can be used for cutting boards. It’s a tough, beautiful wood that, with proper care and a little extra effort in maintenance, could serve you well in the kitchen.

    But as with any material, it’s essential to consider all the pros and cons and decide whether it’s the right choice for your specific needs.

    If you’re someone who appreciates the beauty of natural wood and doesn’t mind a little extra care, a hickory cutting board could be just the thing you need!

    Benefits of using hickory wood for cutting boards
    Benefits of using hickory wood for cutting boards

    Pros and Cons of Using Hickory for Cutting Boards

    Hickory wood is a popular wood in woodworking because of its great qualities.

    But when it comes to cutting boards, let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of using Hickory as kitchen utensils.

    Advantages of Hickory cutting boardsDisadvantages of Hickory cutting boards
    HardwoodOpen grain wood
    High strengthLarge open structure sucks up bacteria easily
    AttractiveFood particles will easily trap inside
    High durabilityNo resistance to insect attacks
    AffordableDifficult to work with because of high hardness and density
    Shock resistant 
    No odor 

    Hickory can make beautiful, nice-looking cutting boards with proper finishing.

    Light to medium brown shade with a reddish hue adds a unique rustic appearance to the cutting boards.

    As you can see Hickory is so tough and has high durability.

    Therefore, cutting boards made of Hickory can survive against sharp knife edges. In terms of strength Hickory is great to use as a cutting board.

    But when we look at the grain structure and functionality, Hickory is not the best choice to use for cutting boards.

    Hickory cutting board
    Hickory cutting board

    Is Hickory Wood Safe for Foods?

    Hickory wood isn’t considered a food-safe wood because having open grain wood structure.

    The diameter of the pores of Hickory wood is large and food particles can easily trap inside of the wood.

    Food particles will easily trap inside the large porous structure and open grain stature of Hickory wood and bacteria take up home in the pores.

    Because of being an open-grained wood Hickory will easily suck up moisture like a sponge and become a good medium for the growth of bacteria.

    This is why Hickory wood is not safe for food and bad option for cutting boards.

    But by applying grain filler you’ll be able to close the open grains of the wood and use it for cutting boards.

    How to make hickory cutting boards
    How to make hickory cutting boards

    Best Finish for Hickory Cutting Boards

    There’re some popular wood finishers that can apply Hickory wood to close the wood grain and make it food safe.

    Here’re the best finishes for hickory cutting boards,

    • Mineral oil
    • Shellac
    • Pure tung oil
    • Carnauba wax
    • Linseed oil
    • Walnut oil

    Those finishers are wood safe and make thick transparent coats over Hickory wood. They’ll make the wood shine and glow with a pleasing look.

    They’ll prevent the wood from sucking up moisture and food particles won’t be trapped inside the porous structure.

    Therefore, there’ll be no bacteria inside and the Hickory cutting board will be food-safe to use.

    How to finish hickory cutting boards
    How to finish hickory cutting boards

    Why Hickory Too Porous For Cutting Boards?

    Hickory wood is an open-grained wood with more porous than many other wood types. The porosity of the wood has a high impact on kitchen sanitation.

    The open grained which is also known as ring-porous woods are not very good to use as cutting boards. Because the large pores of those woods allow moisture to get inside the wood.

    That means the cutting boards made of open-grained wood such as Hickory don’t dry well, because moisture is always trapped inside of the wood and make the wood a good medium for the growth of bacteria and fungi.

    The bacteria growth of the Hickory cutting board left behind by food like raw meat. When you’re using the cutting board for a long period, that could cause the food to contaminate, or food allergies can occur.

    The board will be replaced sooner or later due to those disadvantages.

    Here’re all the possible reasons that prove why open-grained too porous Hickory wood is not good for cutting boards.

    • Moisture goes inside of the wood.
    • Breeding ground for bacteria
    • Cause mold growth
    • Cause wood stains
    • Cause wood warping
    Making Hickory wood cutting board
    Making Hickory wood cutting board

    Is Hickory Good for Butcher Block?

    Hickory is not the best option for butcher block. But there’re lots of beautiful Hickory butcher blocks are available in most households.

    There are nice in appearance and have a great hardness that can resist against sharp knives edges.

    But in terms of functionality, It is an open-grained wood which sucks up moisture like a sponge and that helps bacteria to grow easily inside of the wood.

    You can prevent moisture from going inside of your Hickory butcher block by applying good finisher like tung oil, which is food safe and give extra protection against moisture and bacteria attacks.

    Another disadvantage of using Hickory is that the wood hates woodworking tools. The workability of Hickory is so poor, and your tools will get destroyed easily.

    Hickory is hard as a rock and stands up against knife edges pretty well.

    The time and money you put into making Hickory wood to make a cutting board or butcher block are worth it if you use it for decorative purposes and to sharpen your woodworking knowledge.

    But I never recommended Hickory cutting boards or butcher blocks for a long time use because of its open-grained structure.

    Preparing Hickory for Butcher Block Use

    If you’re enamored with the idea of a hickory butcher block, you can certainly still opt for it, but it will require diligent maintenance.

    Sealing the hickory butcher block can help prevent moisture and food particles from getting trapped.

    Various food-safe finishes are available on the market that can provide a protective layer over the wood without compromising its natural beauty.

    Regular and thorough cleaning of the block after use is paramount to prevent bacteria from settling in.

    And, like any wooden kitchen equipment, it’s essential to keep it well-oiled to prevent the wood from drying out and to maintain its aesthetic appeal.

    So, in order to skip Hickory wood for cutting boards, let’s find out what are the better woods than Hickory that can be perfectly used for cutting boards.

    Hickory wood cutting board with decorations
    Hickory wood cutting board with decorations

    What Woods are Good for Cutting Boards?

    Here’re some better woods to use as cutting boards than Hickory,

    • Maple
    • Beech
    • Cherry
    • Walnut
    • Teak

    Now I’m going to characteristics of each of the above woods for cutting boards with their pros and cons.


    Maple is considered the best wood for cutting boards. Maple has a diffuse porous structure, and it is a close-grained wood not like Hickory.

    Therefore, there is no issue in Maple wood-like moisture going inside through pores or bacteria attacks. Maple is totally food-safe.

    The only drawback of Maple wood is its high maintenance.

    Other than that, you will get high hardness, high density, high strength, and also high functionality using Maple wood over Hickory for cutting boards.

    Hickory Vs Maple for Cutting Boards

    Here’s a table summarizing the differences between hickory and maple wood for cutting boards.

    HardnessHickory is a very hard wood, which can make it ideal for cutting boards that will see a lot of use.Maple is also a hard wood, but it is not as hard as hickory. Despite this, its hardness is still suitable for regular kitchen use.
    Grain StructureHickory is an open-grained wood. This means it has small spaces where food particles can get trapped, potentially leading to bacterial growth.Maple is a closed-grain wood, which helps to prevent food particles and bacteria from getting trapped. This makes it easier to clean and more hygienic.
    AvailabilityHickory is less common and can be harder to find, especially in specific sizes and shapes.Maple is more common and widely available, making it easier to find a suitable size and shape for your kitchen needs.
    DurabilityHickory is very durable, which means it can handle a lot of wear and tear. However, it can also be tough on knives because of its hardness.Maple is also durable and stands up well to wear and tear, but it is a bit kinder to your knives.
    Care and MaintenanceHickory requires thorough cleaning to ensure no food particles get trapped in its open grain. Regular oiling is also necessary to prevent the wood from drying out.Maple cutting boards require regular cleaning, but thanks to its closed grain, this can be a simpler process than with hickory. Regular oiling is also recommended to keep the wood in good condition.
    AestheticsHickory has a distinct, attractive grain pattern that some people prefer.Maple has a smooth, uniform appearance which is often considered elegant and clean in a kitchen setting.
    Hickory wood cutting board
    Hickory wood cutting board


    Beech is also a great wood for cutting boards. It has a close-grained wood structure with a uniform texture.

    Therefore, moisture doesn’t go inside of the wood and keeps its food safe.

    The drawback of Beechwood is its poor shock resistance.  

    Other than that, it has good compressive and bending strength, high hardness, and is equipped with all the important properties to satisfy us as a cutting board wood.


    Cherry is another fantastic hardwood for cutting boards. It’s slightly softer than maple but still holds up well under the pressure of a busy kitchen.

    Cherry’s deep, rich color and smooth grain make for a visually appealing board that could double as a serving platter!


    Walnut is renowned for its hardness and self-healing properties, which make it an excellent choice for a cutting board.

    Its dark color gives it a sophisticated, high-end look, while its grain hides knife marks well, making it a practical, durable option.


    Teak is an excellent choice for a cutting board. It’s incredibly durable, and its natural oils make it water-resistant.

    This resilience to moisture helps minimize warping and cracking.

    However, teak is high in silica, which can dull knives faster than other hardwoods, so it requires a bit of a trade-off.

    That’s it, folks! Hope you’ve learned everything you wanted to know about is hickory good for cutting boards.

    Tip for maintaining hickory cutting boards
    Tip for maintaining hickory cutting boards

    Let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    Why do some people prefer hickory for their cutting boards?

    People who prefer hickory appreciate its toughness, durability, and the beautiful grain pattern it brings to their kitchen decor.

    Can hickory blunt my knives?

    As a hard wood, hickory can be tough on knives if not used carefully, potentially leading to blunting over time.

    How should I care for my hickory cutting board?

    Clean your hickory cutting board thoroughly after each use and oil it regularly with any food-safe oil to maintain its look and durability.

    Is hickory cutting board safe for food preparation?

    Hickory can be safe for food preparation provided it’s thoroughly cleaned after each use to prevent bacteria growth in its open grain structure.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Hickory Good for Cutting Boards?

    In this article, I’ve reviewed is Hickory good for cutting boards, the pros, and cons of Hickory wood as a cutting board, and discussed the factors why Hickory is not considered as a food-safe wood.

    While hickory is tough and durable, it’s not the best choice for cutting boards due to its open-grained structure which could harbor bacteria. Alternatives such as maple, beech, teak, and walnut, with their dense structure and smaller pores, are better at resisting bacterial growth.

    Even though Hickory has all the great physical qualities to use as a cutting board, it lacks in terms of functionality.

    It absorbs moisture that will help bacteria to grow up inside the wood and cause food allergies in later terms.

    Furthermore, I have answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    So, I hope you have gained good knowledge about is Hickory good for cutting boards with its pros and cons which will be really helpful in your woodworking journey.

    Have fun in woodworking!

    Related Posts

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

    Leave a Comment