Advice needed, deep-ish hairline cracks appeared on end grain cutting board.

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NotAddictedYet

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Got this 18" x 12" Cherry board from the Boardsmith in June 2020, love the look and using it. Late 2021, I noticed these hairline marks appeared on the cutting surface on both sides. I assumed it just knife marks from use and didn't think much of it, just oil and move on. Yesterday, noticed that more appeared on the board and so I took a closer look. These marks are not very wide, <1mm with most < 0.5mm but some of these are pretty deep, ranging 2mm to the deepest almost 5mm. Are these just normal wear and tear? seems to me it's hard to even leave a mark on the board without a lot of pressure which is way more than I usually do. Is there something worse (cracks) happening here?

Usage: I am a home cook, cook 2-3 times a week and alternate between this and a smaller board I have. I cut very lightly to avoid digging into the board and dulling the edge excessively. I do not hack any meat with bone on it or rock chop at all. The hardest ingredient I cut would be Kabochas. Board is washed right after use with soapy water and propped up to dry.

For maintenance, I keep the board regularly oiled with mineral oil. Every week for the first month, then every 3-4 weeks afterwards, or more frequent if it looks/feels dry. When I do oil, it's over a period of hours until it just won't absorb any more and oil is seeping out form the bottom. Most recently oiled two weeks ago.

This is really a bummer, as I really love this board and tries to take care of it best I can. Any advice on what the problem is, and how to deal with it would be very welcome.
 

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Jovidah

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Not really a solution to the existing problem, but personally I don't wash my 'proper' wooden boards all that often. At the end of the day moisture is their main enemy, and I never do anything particularly horrible on them (seperate board for meats), so usually I just wipe it clean with a paper towel (moist if needed) and call it a day. Probably wash my big ones only once a month, and they never looked any worse for it.
 

shopshopshop

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Don't really know if this is related to the cracks, but I'd probably towel dry any wooden thing that I wanted to last rather than propping up to air dry.
 

JASinIL2006

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Those look like cuts from a knife, not cracks. My understanding is that cherry at the softer end of the scale for woods used in cutting boards. That would probably equate to being easier on edges, but may mean that it is easier to mar with your knives.

I agree. Cracks would not be so perfectly straight.
 

noj

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In several photos, I see a straight-line fissure which is (both) not aligned with the grain and crosses wood blocks. I find it difficult to explain that happening from anything except from a knife contact. There are other fissures that don't have both properties. That said, if some are due to knife contact, then the most likely explanation for the others may be the same.

I (thankfully) don't have any direct experience with this. One idea might be to fill the cracks with something food safe (beeswax maybe). With any luck, it will keep out water and contaminants, and allow you to see if/when new fissures appear. Checking after each use might give you a clue. If there are other users, that may be a clue.

Cutting squash can involve some force. I got a bad one once with a skin that felt like wood.

I only have "ordinary" experience with carpentry, so welcome other input.
 

NotAddictedYet

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First thanks all for chiming in, I really appreciate it.

Those look like cuts from a knife, not cracks. My understanding is that cherry at the softer end of the scale for woods used in cutting boards. That would probably equate to being easier on edges, but may mean that it is easier to mar with your knives.

These marks are rather straight, so it would make sense if it is caused by a knife. Although, I am still doubtful that my knives (and myself) are capable of digging into the board almost 5mm. That just seems excessive. If this is indeed the case, that would be sad as I really tried to not mar such a beautiful board. 😢

Don't really know if this is related to the cracks, but I'd probably towel dry any wooden thing that I wanted to last rather than propping up to air dry.

Yes, this is one thing I will do going onward, just wipe the block dry after washing to not let moisture mess with it.

I (thankfully) don't have any direct experience with this. One idea might be to fill the cracks with something food safe (beeswax maybe). With any luck, it will keep out water and contaminants, and allow you to see if/when new fissures appear. Checking after each use might give you a clue. If there are other users, that may be a clue.

Thanks, will apply some beeswax and see how that works out.
 

Corradobrit1

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Thats an odd one. Personally I think they are too deep to be casual cleaver or cutting marks. Likewise they appear too regular and not follow a typical stress fracture. I'm curious to know if you asked Boardsmith for their opinion.
Is this board reversible. The fact you see the fissures both sides suggests to me their origin is not manmade if used on one side only.
 
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NotAddictedYet

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Agree the cracks don't look like typical wood expansion cracks. But several appear way bigger and deeper than I'd expect from casual knife contact - they look like marks I'd expect from a cleaver used with force.
Those look like the kind of cuts you'd get from chopping bone or joints, frozen item, etc.
Have you used any serrated knives on the board? Those usually leave bigger marks than chopping along with a gyuto... but they rarely come to 5 mm depth I think.

No hacking bones/joints/frozen food on this board at all. Have a beater face grain board for those tasks. 😅 I did open a few hard kabochas on this one, but the forces used was measured so the knife slid through the produce instead of thwacking the board.

No serrated knife of any kind in the house.

Thats an odd one. Personally I think they are too deep to be casual cleaver or cutting marks. Likewise they appear too regular and not follow a typical stress fracture. I'm curious to know if you asked Boardsmith for their opinion.
Is this board reversible. The fact you see the fissures both sides suggests to me their origin is not manmade if used on one side only.

I did sent John a message. Hope to hear from him soon.
 

Helicon

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A few thoughts, backing up what some other posters have speculated:

1) Cherry is a relatively soft wood, and will show damage sooner than most other hardwoods.
2) Those cut marks are definitely from knife contact rather than any defect of the board itself. The directionality and depth are giveaways.
3) Please, please do not wash your board after every use. At most just give it a wipe with a vinegar-dampened paper towel. And keep up with the mineral oil & beeswax if possible.

My best guess is that you've cut into the board without noticing on a number of occasions, and repeated expansion/contraction from washing after every use (and air drying) has prevented the board from self-healing as well as it might otherwise. But cherry is far less forgiving of such abuse than most other hardwoods.

Otherwise, do you live in a dry or humid climate?
 

NotAddictedYet

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Again thanks everyone for offering opinion here. I found this link from another forum. Someone tried to make a board for themselves and found similar looking cracks appearing on their new board. Don't think anyone used a knife on this and the crack is not with the grain, rather perpendicular to it.

Reading the thread, wonder if it really has to do with how I am washing and air drying the board, and it being winter right now. The moisture change messed the board up.

To answer some questions above the board is reversible with no feet, I use both sides. And I live in northern US where it gets bitter cold. It snows and humidity is still in the 50% but with the heat furnace on I imagine the air is pretty dry.
 

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McMan

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In the picture above, those are checks across the grain due to the layout of the grain on the board.
In your picture, note that the lines go in multiple directions--some with the grain, some across, some diagonal...
My thinking mirrors the quote below. Cherry's soft, so there's potential for the cuts to be deeper. Couple that with washing and then leaving to dry with some water in the cut. Then do that a multiple times. That's a recipe to swell the wood and open up the cut. As others have said a wipe down is good. Also, where you store it can matter. If it's near a source of heat (stove, radiator, etc.) or steam (stove, microwave, etc.), then weird things can happen.

Also, that looks like someone dragging the heel into the board. Is this an issue of using a knife without a bolster, but dragging the heel as if it was a knife with a bolster?

A few thoughts, backing up what some other posters have speculated:

1) Cherry is a relatively soft wood, and will show damage sooner than most other hardwoods.
2) Those cut marks are definitely from knife contact rather than any defect of the board itself. The directionality and depth are giveaways.
3) Please, please do not wash your board after every use. At most just give it a wipe with a vinegar-dampened paper towel. And keep up with the mineral oil & beeswax if possible.

My best guess is that you've cut into the board without noticing on a number of occasions, and repeated expansion/contraction from washing after every use (and air drying) has prevented the board from self-healing as well as it might otherwise. But cherry is far less forgiving of such abuse than most other hardwoods.

Otherwise, do you live in a dry or humid climate?
 

JASinIL2006

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In the picture above, those are checks across the grain due to the layout of the grain on the board.
In your picture, note that the lines go in multiple directions--some with the grain, some across, some diagonal...
My thinking mirrors the quote below. Cherry's soft, so there's potential for the cuts to be deeper. Couple that with washing and then leaving to dry with some water in the cut. Then do that a multiple times. That's a recipe to swell the wood and open up the cut. As others have said a wipe down is good. Also, where you store it can matter. If it's near a source of heat (stove, radiator, etc.) or steam (stove, microwave, etc.), then weird things can happen.

Also, that looks like someone dragging the heel into the board. Is this an issue of using a knife without a bolster, but dragging the heel as if it was a knife with a bolster?

I agree, the pictures show checking without the perfectly straight lines you see in the OP’s board. They look quite different to me.
 

Jeff

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Got this 18" x 12" Cherry board from the Boardsmith in June 2020, love the look and using it. Late 2021, I noticed these hairline marks appeared on the cutting surface on both sides. I assumed it just knife marks from use and didn't think much of it, just oil and move on. Yesterday, noticed that more appeared on the board and so I took a closer look. These marks are not very wide, <1mm with most < 0.5mm but some of these are pretty deep, ranging 2mm to the deepest almost 5mm. Are these just normal wear and tear? seems to me it's hard to even leave a mark on the board without a lot of pressure which is way more than I usually do. Is there something worse (cracks) happening here?

Usage: I am a home cook, cook 2-3 times a week and alternate between this and a smaller board I have. I cut very lightly to avoid digging into the board and dulling the edge excessively. I do not hack any meat with bone on it or rock chop at all. The hardest ingredient I cut would be Kabochas. Board is washed right after use with soapy water and propped up to dry.

For maintenance, I keep the board regularly oiled with mineral oil. Every week for the first month, then every 3-4 weeks afterwards, or more frequent if it looks/feels dry. When I do oil, it's over a period of hours until it just won't absorb any more and oil is seeping out form the bottom. Most recently oiled two weeks ago.

This is really a bummer, as I really love this board and tries to take care of it best I can. Any advice on what the problem is, and how to deal with it would be very welcome.

I have had success soaking the board in moneral oil.

Here is what has worked well for me:

put board in a half sheet (or any similar pan that will hold the board. put a few toothpicks in the pan and put the board on the toothpicks. the goal is to leave a tiny gap under the board.

put mineral oil in pan and let it soak for A FEW DAYS. Flip and repeat.

I also put the pan in the oven and set it on very low temp.I also use a pastry /BBQ brush to put oil on the “up” side.

It takes time for the oil to absorb deep int oth wood, just normally oiling only gets the surface - good for maintance but your board needs deep healing.

When you get it where you want mix 2/3 mineral oil and 1/3 carnuba wax in a pan and heat to mix

when the board is out and dry to touch rub the mixture all over the surface. the wax will help seal the oil inside.

Good luck!

Also for small surface cracks i have filled them with heated pure carnuba wax … when it cools it is hard and can be rubbed off flush w/ board. It stops food or moisture from getting in the wood.
 

coxhaus

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Have you ever tried bees wax instead of carnuba wax? I like the smell of bees wax.

I even used bees wax on my workbenches as it keeps glue from sticking until it wears off.
 
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