Is Hickory Good for Cutting Boards?

is hickory good for cutting boards

Hickory wood is strong, hard, and shock-resistant wood that is commonly used for furniture making, cabinetry, and flooring. When it comes to the kitchen equipment, we need to have a good idea about what woods work best for. Because they contact with our food. When I was working with Hickory for kitchen utensils, I was always wondered, Is Hickory good for cutting boards?

I did some research and here’s what I’ve found:

Hickory isn’t good for cutting boards. Hickory is an open-grained wood with a more porous wood structure. The food particle can trap inside small spaces of Hickory wood and bacteria can grow in the pores. Open-grained wood is not suitable for cutting boards. So, the grain structure of Hickory isn’t tight enough to be used for cutting boards.

But that’s just a quick snapshot.

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

So, in this article we’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 about Hickory wood as a cutting board as well.

So, let’s jump in!

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.

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 of 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. Here’re some popular wood finishers that can apply Hickory wood to close the wood grain and make it food safe. They are,

  • 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.

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

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about is Hickory good for cutting boards related ones.

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.

In a conclusion, 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.

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.

Better Woods for Cutting Boards Than Hickory

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

  • Maple

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.

  • Beech

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.

Read: Is Poplar Good For Cutting Boards? All You Need To Know

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

In this article, we 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.

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, we have talked about why open-grained wood is not good to use as cutting boards and answered some frequently asked questions about Hickory as a cutting board.

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!

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