With the advent and popularity of DYI hobby sales websites and ads in social media, I have been seeing a lot of DIY wood hobbyists selling cutting boards with epoxy coatings -or- having the epoxy embedded in the wood near the cutting surface.
As a professional woodworker company I felt called to address why this is a bad idea and you should really- just say No, to epoxy cutting surfaces.
I NEVER use resin as decorative filler on any of my cutting or serving boards, for many different reasons which I will address below.
First and foremost, I LOVE wood and the mere idea of filling it with PLASTIC (this is what resin is…) is just a big NO-NO. I do some restoration using high quality, marine-grade epoxy glue to stabilize some parts when absolutely necessary ; but to do justice to the wood when ‘filling’ is needed, I would not consider using other materials than wood patches, or stones.
Second, food-grade resin / epoxy is safe when applied correctly for non-cutting, or light-duty cutting surfaces, such as serving boards, charcuterie boards, or serving trays therefore epoxy does have its place in the kitchen or dining room. This food-grade level of resin is a different FDA grade than what you would normally see in tabletops, benches etc. and unfortunately a lot of DIY hobbyists may not be up to industry speed on which products are safe and which are not safe to use on a surface that makes contact with food.
There are so many products catering to the DIY crowd that are produced in countries where possibly some of the compounds are not listed, and let alone the thousands of “tutorials” by professionals and other hobbyists, there is a lot of conflicting information on directions and use for epoxy. Its extremely important that if you are a DIY Hobbyist selling your product, and reading this blog, that you make sure you search out brands that have high-ratings and are compliant with FDA standards. Also, it is equally important that you learn to properly measure, mix, pour and cure any epoxy. When it comes to purchasing a cutting board or butcher block, it is extremely important that it contains no epoxy on or near the cutting surface – food grade or not.
When you use a cleaver or kitchen knife on a wood surface, wood has a natural way of self-healing over time and several studies have found that there are natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in many varieties of harder wood due to its porous healing nature. Wood pulls bacteria in trapping and killing it through the drying process after cleaning.
The following are some of the problems with epoxy as a medium to heavy use cutting surface and why I do not use it: When coated with epoxy, or making contact with epoxy, wood reacts differently and doesn’t self heal once you’ve broken through the epoxy to the wood level.
Resin over time can collect bacteria hiding under the deep scratches and cuts on a cutting board from your knives, even if cleaned thoroughly. Blood and Juices can dry and create a bacteria-laden surface.
Resin can break down over time with knife use and also chips and splinters when used as a medium-to-intensive cutting surface. Small particles could get into your food and thus get into your digestive system.
Resin is a hard plastic surface, and harder on cleavers and knife blades, causing them to dull faster.
And finally, epoxy will over time with chopping use, and heavy cleaning will eventually end up looking horrible with scuffing or clouding, thus destroying any heirloom or artistic value of your board.
Just sayin’ 🙂