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View Full Version : Thick Hinoki (Or Similar) Sushi Cutting Board Source in US or Japan



la2tokyo
07-01-2012, 03:10 PM
I will be in the market for a very large slab-type cutting board for sushi within the next year. I am willing to drive anywhere on the west coast to pick it up if I can find a woodworker to make it cheaper than bringing it back from Japan. It needs to be Hinoki or similar soft wood, unfinished. It's just a piece of wood, so if anyone knows where I can buy the wood and have it planed and jointed I can probably finish it myself. Also, if anyone knows of a place in Tokyo that sells something like this it would save me some time searching it out in Japan - I will report back on prices if others are interested. I know it will not be cheap! The one pictured below is at Urasawa in Los Angeles.https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28428060/post-56978-046786500%201291041545.jpeg

JBroida
07-01-2012, 03:51 PM
Urasawa spent A LOT of $$$ on that. I guess he needs the thickness as he sands it every day. It is kind of badass though.

la2tokyo
07-01-2012, 03:54 PM
I guess that means you don't have one in your store? If it was under $2K I would consider it a good deal.

JBroida
07-01-2012, 04:10 PM
haha... i wish i had one here... dont even have room for one like that to be honest. Under $2k would be a great deal. Shipping would be the tough part. I wonder how much something like that weighs...

mpukas
07-01-2012, 04:33 PM
I think the first hurdle is finding/sourcing the wood. Hinoki is not something you may find stateside. If you want Hinoki, you may have to have it imported, which I can only imagine would be very, very expensive.

Perhaps contact one of the wood vendors here, particularly BoardSmith, and find a suitable substitute available in the states. If the hardness of the wood is your main concern, then it should be fairly straight forward to find out what the hardness rating of Hinoki is, and then compare it to other woods. If there are other characteristics of Hinoki that are desireable, then you may have to find a compromise.

Once you find the (right) wood, getting it fabricated shouldn't be too diffifcult.

BTW - looking at that pic again, that's a solid slab of wood, taken from the heart of a single tree. Going to be very hard to find something like that. My first thought is the Pacific Northwest, where larger trees like that grow. The northern mid-west and north east have large old growth trees of that size that can be cut down, but they are going to be hard wood type trees, and may be too hard for what you're looking for. If you can live with a board made from several pieces laminated together, like a regualr cutting board, it may be more feasible.

El Pescador
07-01-2012, 04:35 PM
Mark at burl source can get you one. I have spoken to him about something similar. probably have to be walnut though.

la2tokyo
07-01-2012, 05:21 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. I think anything I find in Japan would probably be $5,000 and then I have to find a way to ship. I think I would give up at a price over $3K. Like mpukas said, I might be able to find the wood in the Pacific Northwest, and I would be more than happy to drive to Oregon to save a couple thousand dollars and the hassle of shipping. Port Oxford Cedar seems to be a close relative of Hinoki, and I imagine something like Clear Vertical Grain Douglas Fir would probably work. I will research lumber companies in Oregon and see what they say. If someone can supply something that big even at $25/BF it would be a substantial savings. I am worried that hardwood will be much more difficult to use than Hinoki because the density and smoothness don't allow moisture to dissipate at all, making fish slide on it easily like it does on new plastic cutting boards.

add
07-01-2012, 06:44 PM
We are currently living outside Portland near the entrance of the Columbia Gorge.
To walk through some of the old growth stands or second growth forests around here and other parts of WA has been amazing.

Some of the small towns on the WA side here have mom and pop saw mills right off or on their main street.

Craigslist will often have kiln dried slabs and other neat stuff posted from these types of outfits.

Logging is way down from boom times and I bet good prices can be had.

This guy might be a starting point...
http://www.jewellhardwoods.com/index-3.html

Perhaps Alder might be a good choice as well as the Maple or Doug fir... ?
Definitely Mark @ Burlsource would be a good resource.

I will keep an eye out if you would like, pm me if I can be of any help.

mpukas
07-01-2012, 06:56 PM
If you can live w/ doug fir, that's a structural lumber that's readily available in large sizes. 6x, 8x, 10x up to 16 or even 18. If you want to go 10x20 or 10x24, then you getting into some pretty big pieces that may carry a pretty price tag, but they should be available. Check with a local lumber yard and see if they can order/source it.

add has some good advice w/ a local mom n pop sawmill. But alder won't work because the trees are small - the largest pieces avaiable for trim are about 5/4x6.

RRLOVER
07-01-2012, 07:14 PM
I can attest to the quality of port Orford cedar.When I moved into my home 12 years ago I had a fence installed and the fencing contractor talked me into upgrading to port Orford cedar.The home next door had a yellow cedar fence installed 2 weeks before me and that wood is shrunk and twisted.My fence is straight as an arrow.

brainsausage
07-01-2012, 11:32 PM
I landscaped through my early twenties, and used to maintain Hinoki on a variety of properties, up here in the northeast. Our temperate zone is fairly similar to Japan, in my understanding. None of them were any where near that size. Regardless- they are are on the continent. I've yet to see them sold in any lumber/fabricated manner though...

Noodle Soup
07-02-2012, 11:43 AM
Plenty of doug fir around here that size and there are also noble and silver true fir but not much being logged these days. Not sure how well conifers would work for this.
There might be a rare red alder that would make it to that size but most top out a little smaller. I have a few on my place that might go 20-inches with the bark on. Should also be some big leaf maple around in the right size range if they aren't too hard for you. There is also a lot of black cottonwood that would be big enough if that wood is suitable.

Marko Tsourkan
07-02-2012, 12:06 PM
Can alternative woods like cedar or others be used? Are they food safe?

I would recommend to commission a thick maple or cherry end grain top (3-4"). Will cost less than hinoki, will be food safe, give you great cutting surface, and you won't need to refinish it as often as hinoki - maybe once a year if that.

I don't understand attraction of hinoki at all. Except for good water resistance, the wood is similar to poplar in hardness. Japanese use it because it's local species, and woods like maple, black walnut, black cherry would have to be imported.

David TheBoardSmith made thick end-grain tops in maple and cherry in the past. I would take a look at those. In terms of stability and longevity, they are likely to top hinoki.

The hinoki slab in the picture is flat sawn. I can't imagine it be better for your knife edges than end-grain plus checking and warping might become an issue down the road.

M

Noodle Soup
07-02-2012, 12:07 PM
Just out of curiosity, I measured a short section of red alder log I have been trying to dry in hopes I can cut a large Asian chopping block out of it. Came from one of the bigger alders on our place. 18-inch in diameter with the bark on.

Anyone ever tried drying logs for this use? I haven't been able to find a good way to do it that I don't end up with cracks and checks.

RRLOVER
07-02-2012, 11:24 PM
Can alternative woods like cedar or others be used? Are they food safe?

I would recommend to commission a thick maple or cherry end grain top (3-4"). Will cost less than hinoki, will be food safe, give you great cutting surface, and you won't need to refinish it as often as hinoki - maybe once a year if that.

I don't understand attraction of hinoki at all. Except for good water resistance, the wood is similar to poplar in hardness. Japanese use it because it's local species, and woods like maple, black walnut, black cherry would have to be imported.

David TheBoardSmith made thick end-grain tops in maple and cherry in the past. I would take a look at those. In terms of stability and longevity, they are likely to top hinoki.

The hinoki slab in the picture is flat sawn. I can't imagine it be better for your knife edges than end-grain plus checking and warping might become an issue down the road.

M

Cedar is food safe,I have cooked many of fish on a red cedar plank.The problem is red and yellow are to soft to cut on but the port orford cedar is a bit harder.I do like the look of one solid slab of wood,it has a "cool" factor.If you do find something please keep us posted,and pics.

la2tokyo
07-03-2012, 12:58 AM
Well I'm going to be in Japan until November, but the more I think about it the more I think it's a waste of money to buy one here. My only question is whether Douglas Fir will resist rot and mildew like Hinoki. It seems to me that Hinoki has less of a tendency to splinter, which I am also worried about. Unlike most cutting boards, sushi boards see no hard chopping, so I'm not worried about it getting damaged by a knife. The small scratches in the board help to keep fish from sliding when you pull cut sashimi, so I don't mind having to resurface frequently. On a hardwood board oily things like toro slide a lot, making it hard to work quickly, and darker colors make it hard to see things like fish scales on the board. If Port Orford Cedar is a better choice I will try and commission one in Oregon and pick it up myself - If the timber is good maybe I can get two matching ones from the same log for the price of bringing one from Japan. Thanks for all the responses!

richinva
07-03-2012, 07:39 AM
Just out of curiosity, I measured a short section of red alder log I have been trying to dry in hopes I can cut a large Asian chopping block out of it. Came from one of the bigger alders on our place. 18-inch in diameter with the bark on.

Anyone ever tried drying logs for this use? I haven't been able to find a good way to do it that I don't end up with cracks and checks.

Get the pith out and coat the ends with a wax emulsion like Anchor Seal. Even with that, it's really hard to dry something that thick. To air dry would take at least 5 years or more. Hard to dry an entire log.......


The piece pictured has the pith removed.

Noodle Soup
07-03-2012, 10:34 AM
Thanks Richinva. Of course, 5 years is a little longer than I was hoping to wait. The log I have was cut last summer and kept out of the weather in the barn all winter. I was hoping it would be dry enought to work with sometime this fall.

Marko Tsourkan
07-03-2012, 11:11 AM
Cedar is food safe,I have cooked many of fish on a red cedar plank.The problem is red and yellow are to soft to cut on but the port orford cedar is a bit harder.I do like the look of one solid slab of wood,it has a "cool" factor.If you do find something please keep us posted,and pics.

Cedar has strong smell to it. I wonder if it can affect taste?

Mike Davis
07-03-2012, 11:31 AM
I know you can dry a log in 3 years to under 8% moisture content. As far as the plank goes, i would be willing to bet you could find a sawmill and have it cut from maple or cherry in that size for around $500-$1000. With a board that big, i bet you could texture one end of it just for the slippery stuff. With enough mineral oil or board butter, that thing should last forever and be bulletproof!!!

RRLOVER
07-03-2012, 12:22 PM
Cedar has strong smell to it. I wonder if it can affect taste?


That is the intention.You should give it a shot.You soak the board in water put a nice fillet of salmon on it,throw it on the grill or in the oven.

Noodle Soup
07-03-2012, 01:11 PM
Of course, that is western red cedar that is used with salmon. There are a lot of unrelated trees out there called "cedar." Port Orford and Alaskan (AKA Yellow or Sinking Cedar) are actually cypress species. Eastern Red Cedar is really a juniper.

Noodle Soup
07-03-2012, 01:11 PM
That should have been "stinking cedar" not sinking cedar! :)

richinva
07-03-2012, 02:47 PM
I know you can dry a log in 3 years to under 8% moisture content......


Even with a dehumidifier running in my shop 24/7, I can't even get thin wood to get much below 9%, and I turn bowls and boxes year round. For me anything between 8-10% is optimum and is suitable to work without warping, even for suction-fit lidded boxes, which require really DRY. Also depends upon your location and the time of year. Kiln drying will speed things up considerably, but you gotta get that pith out ASAP to prohibit checking.

That sushi board looks to be about 18" wide by maybe 6" thick? Rule of thumb for AIR-drying lumber is one year per inch of thickness plus one year, so that's 7 years if you AIR dry it. If you can hook up with a kiln, then cut and slab it from your log, seal the ends, and get it to them pronto. And cut it bigger than you want it so you can trim the ends, etc. Wood is a dynamic material that never really quits moving, even kiln-dried.

Also watch out for "washboarding", which is what you get when you over sand woods like fir, pine, hemlock, etc. Some hardwoods like ash and oak can also exhibit this tendency. The wide growth rings (produced during wetter years) will sand easier than the narrower growth rings (produced during drier years), creating an undulating surface. I saw something about daily sanding, which I can't believe would really be necessary. And there's no way I would ever use a fir cutting board, too many splinters produced........

Sorry if this rambles....... Drying green wood is not something that comes easy, you have to have a lot of things fall into place in order to get a good end product.

Marko Tsourkan
07-03-2012, 07:25 PM
I pretty much agree with the post above. I get my lumber kiln dried and I normally let it acclimatize for 3-6 month in dehumidified workshop. That gets MC of the lumber to about 8%.

M