Household Wares & Woes

Household Wares & Woes

Umlaut of a Good Sanitized Home Made Wooden Butcher Board

Text and Photography by Loreen Neville

Wednesday, June 11th 2008

If you enjoy experiencing culinary undertakings and delights, you will know that owning a good cutting board and daily maintaining its sanitization, is an important aspect in a wonderful bona fide area in a home where meals are made and that is, in your kitchen.

Currently, there are two type of cutting boards that comes in shapes of circular, rectangular or squares are the butcher blocks or wooden cutting boards and the synthetic or hard plastic cutting boards. In recent years, producers have come up with the end grain durable reversible bamboo cutting boards which are sold expensively. The third type would be but of course the marble cutting board often used for rolling dough or as serving boards for sushi, cheese and bread.  The difference between a plastic board and a wooden one is with wood, the material has a natural anti-sceptic property that self heals by closing up from the cuts caused by knives. Whereas in plastics, it is easily scored by knifes resulting with grooves that shelters harmful bacteria. Resurfacing a used plastic cutting board is not easy and when the stains and cuts cannot be cured it time to buy a new board. The only advantage of the plastic board is that it can take harsh cleaning chemicals without damaging the board and they don’t stain easily because of its non porous surface. 

Cut throat prices and small sizes

A medium large size plastic imported cutting board at Gourmet Garage Restaurant and mini grocer cost about Rp: 495.000, at ACE hardware chain of stores, a small standard bamboo board can cost up to Rp: 98,000 and in most supermarkets, small boards are priced range between Rp: 30.000 to Rp. 49.000 The sizes that are sold in most traditional wet and dry markets or stores sells only a fixed size board about 35cm by 24 cm or smaller. Therefore, with all these small sized boards and cut throat prices, I’ve decided the best solution is custom cut my own wooden cutting board.


Choosing the right wood to make your wooden cutting board

Scouting around for wood, on June 8th 2008, I finally came upon one store that sold wood meant for furniture along the main road. Taking my time in selecting the wood, making sure I don’t select certain tropical hardwoods that contain toxins or allergens and to look for the right hard wood that has lesser and small pores. Discovering a piece of second grade hard wood with tight grain amongst the piles of wood, I ordered the person to cut the a rectangle shaped board about 40 cm by 75 cm, perfect for my counter space and large enough to cut and shove aside ingredients while preparing meals giving me more space to work with. He later polished of the rough edges and smooth out the pores.

Seasoning a new cutting wooden board

All new boards should always be seasoned to prevent discoloration or staining and so that the pores from the wood, won’t absorb food odours and bacteria. I am going to disinfect and season my new board in my garden yard because it huge and so I won’t soil oil my kitchen counter top


First, I am going to pour vinegar and baking soda to kill germs on the wood, wash with hot soap, wipe off excess water and lean the board to allow for even drying. I always keep vinegar in a plastic spray bottle in the kitchen to disinfect my cutting boards.


Sprinkle baking soda powder onto the board and spray vinegar over the powdered board. An effect of bubbles will appear and that means the safe agents reacts, beginning to form, killing bacteria and odor.

Next, rinse quickly with clean tepid water. Whatever you do never soak or emerge a wooden cutting board in water or in dish washer as these would open the pores and ruin the wood.


Wipe with a dry clean cloth or towel and leave to dry.


After disinfecting my new wooden cutting board, I am going to oil it with coconut oil. It is known that coconut oil is highly resistant to rancidity and more stable because of its high proportion of saturated fats. Coconut also oil has a shelf life of two years and needs no refrigeration. You can also use natural mineral oils like walnut or almond Oils. Never use vegetable or olive oil to season or when resurfacing your boards as this will bring out an odour or turn rotten in the board.


Warm the coconut oil slightly and apply the oil with a dry clean soft cloth following the direction of the grain or wood pattern. Allow oil to soak for about an hour and repeat the process of wiping oil up to about 5 coats. After 3 hours wipe off excess oil that was not absorb by the wood. This process keeps the wood from moisture, bacteria, and other contaminants from getting into the wood surface and it prevents cracking. Apply the finishing by re-wiping with a dry clean cloth. To maintain any wooden cutting board repeat this process about 4 to 6 times a year.

My finish product

Ah, my very own home made wooden cutting board with a comfortable size of 40 cm by 75cm, an important aspect for my wonderful bona fide kitchen area, perfect on my counter, large enough to cut and shove aside ingredients, while preparing meals, enabling me more space to work with. To think it only cost me a sum of Rp. 75.000 includes cutting the hard high second grade wood log into the size I need, Rp.10.000 to polish and refine it and another Rp. 10.000 of the special coconut oil to season the board. Therefore the total amount spend Rp.95.000 plus car petrol to look for the wood store, about Rp.50.000 (still had balance gas in the tank) is Rp. 145.000. Not bad and worth the effort.


This article is dedicated to the late Mr. D. A. Neville, whose hobby was carpentry and cooking. I learnt to be handy around the house from observing and helping dad.

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