Using Elm for cutting boards?

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Joined Oct 10, 2005
As the only woodworker in my family I’ve been asked to make another batch of cutting boards. Last batch I did was made of 2” sugar maple cubes, end grain facing up. These worked well, but I can’t train my family NOT to put the boards on the dishwasher.....

A friend has a stash of seasoned elm, and I was wondering why this wood was not utilized commercially for cutting boards. Traditionally elm was used for wagon wheel hubs and well shafts—the wood does not split, although I’d rather not put it through the dishwasher test.

Has anyone tried elm as cutting board material?
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Elm is a fantastic wood to use for cutting boards. Its one of the best, IMO. I have a couple of Elm boards that I use quite regularly. The unusual wood grain makes it difficult to split. In fact, its nearly impossible to split. Its naturally water and moisture resistant so, you won't have to worry about decay etc. Its pretty hard so, you won't have to worry about it splintering, chipping or knife marks. But, most of all, the wood itself is quite beautiful.

The reason why Elm is not commonly used for cutting boards is because Healthy Elm trees are rather rare as compared to other tree species. Dutch Elm Disease killed off most American Elm trees starting in the 1930's making it very hard to find a healthy Elm tree these days. So, using it for commercially produced items such as cutting boards is rather cost prohibitive.

If your friend is willing to part with some wood so you can make a cutting board, definitely do it.

Cheers. :)
 
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Because of the disease elms live about 150 years (I thought it less than that) instead of 400+, so we stiil have elms but yah, not a lot of wood relatively speaking.
 
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Great! I’m doing it!

I thought it best to check, usually if something is done a certain way for a few hundred years, there’s almost always a reason for doing so...

Here’s some of my “non food” work at a local craft fair last week... 8BC369E0-34AC-4334-9517-BE4045140FEB.jpeg
 
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Thanks, I did do that with the maple boards, which held up fine—until it went in the dishwasher several times. Even then, the glue joints held up, but the maple split.
 
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Thanks, I did do that with the maple boards, which held up fine—until it went in the dishwasher several times. Even then, the glue joints held up, but the maple split.
First off, give your family some stern finger waving for putting such a fine thing as a hand crafted cutting board into a dishwasher. Second, how the heck did they fit that thing in there? My board barley fits in my sink.
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Well.... my sister wanted a small board to match her small knives ( which I have to sharpen twice a year when I come over) so hers was 18 x12. Regardless of my warnings she refuses to use bleach, sanitizer, or anything “wierd” to sanitize, and cutting deli ham necessated the use of the dishwasher—just like her knives. ( I know, I know). My brother, o.t.oh., likes to “soak off” carrot and beet stains by letting the board sit in a shallow baking pan filled with water and soap for about, oh, a few days.

The boards I want to make will come with stern warnings and the threat of Mal*Wart gift certificates as next year’s presents if they don’t take care of them...
 
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
Well.... my sister wanted a small board to match her small knives ( which I have to sharpen twice a year when I come over) so hers was 18 x12. Regardless of my warnings she refuses to use bleach, sanitizer, or anything “wierd” to sanitize, and cutting deli ham necessated the use of the dishwasher—just like her knives. ( I know, I know). My brother, o.t.oh., likes to “soak off” carrot and beet stains by letting the board sit in a shallow baking pan filled with water and soap for about, oh, a few days.

The boards I want to make will come with stern warnings and the threat of Mal*Wart gift certificates as next year’s presents if they don’t take care of them...
Ouch. "This is why you can't have nice things." It's also why I eventually decided not to give my brother or mother a decent knife for Christmas a few years back, once I realized that they would not only never sharpen them (that's okay, I'll do it), but they'd also run them in the dishwasher, toss them in the sink, etc.

You're a saint to make beautiful boards for them knowing what will happen!
 

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