is poplar good for cutting boards

Is Poplar Good for Cutting Boards?

Poplar wood earned its reputation of being one of the easiest and lightest woods to use for a variety of woodworking projects. As such, this wood is used commonly for different applications, such as in cabinetry, along with other interior furniture pieces, including kitchen work. With this you may ask, is Poplar good for cutting boards? Let’s find out. 

Poplar Wood Features and Characteristics

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When talking about the appearance and characteristics, Poplar wood has its own beauty. However, when it comes to hardness and strength, it may not be the best option for heavy cutting use. Even though this type of wood may offer more cons than pros in this aspect, some still choose to go for Poplar in making cutting boards due to its very clear and smooth surface. 

Poplar wood is also quite easy to finish, with an amazing workability, making it an ideal option for beginners to practice working with. When cutting, however, it smells odd. 

Poplar Wood Strength Rating

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Compared to most hardwoods, Poplar is not as strong. Because of this, Poplar is not ideal for heavy cuttings. The density of this wood is at a value of 0.42, which is quite higher than other softwoods, but also lower than hardwoods. 

The best type of wood to use for making a cutting board is a hardwood. While Poplar is a hardwood, it lacks the needed strength because of its low density. Also, with a Janka scale hardness rating of 540, Poplar wood is too soft. 

Due to the porous structure of Poplar, with fiber vessels and huge diameters, this wood features less density. This is why it is very soft. A good hard surface is what is required for making cutting boards since the surfaces are constantly hit by sharp tools and knives. This will result to scratches and dents, ruining the entire cutting board. 

Is Poplar Wood Safe for Food?

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One of the foremost reasons why Poplar wood is not good for making cutting boards is that without proper finishing, it reveals its highly porous and soft surface. It also absorbs bacteria fast, just like a sponge. Thus, if the cutting board is made out of Poplar wood, you may need to use food-safe mineral oil throughout the entire surface for finishing. 

Among the most common finishing option for Poplar wood includes mineral oil, shellac, pure tung oil, carnauba wax, walnut oil, and raw linseed oil.  By using a food-safe finish, you can prevent the absorption of bacteria. This means that the food particles can easily go inside. After a good finishing, you will have a beautiful and nice Poplar board which is safe for food. 

Wood Options for Cutting Boards

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Aside from Poplar wood, there are other options that you can also take into consideration. There are more suitable for manufacturing cutting boards. Maple, Walnut, and Beech are the best options, as they feature amazing hardness and strength, which can handle heavy cuttings without causing dents and scratches. They do not tear easily like Poplar wood. They are also food-safe, most importantly.

  • Maple Wood

Maple wood is usually the best suited option for making cutting boards. It is generally harder compared with Poplar wood. For one, it has the capacity to bear even the heaviest cuttings. Also, it features a light color that offers a distinct appearance to the board. 

Also, maple wood does not absorb bacteria quite well, thanks to its less porous structure. The fiber vessels are also small in diameter size. This means that the food particles do not go inside the wood. With amazing finishing characteristics, it stains easily. This will allow you to get a stronger, more durable cutting board than Poplar wood. 

  • Walnut Wood

With Walnut wood, there is no need to worry about shrinking concerns, with amazing qualities, making it suitable for making cutting boards. Walnut wood is known for its amazing features, including its durability and beautiful appearance, which is more than that of Poplar wood. Still, it is important to give the finished product regular maintenance to make sure that the board looks new. 

  • Beech Wood

Beech wood features a high hardness rating than Poplar wood, and with most hardwoods as well. As such, it is an ideal option for making cutting boards, and other heavy cutting applications. It does not absorb water, food particles or bacteria, thanks to its tight, secure, grain structure. 

The absorbance property of Beech wood is quite low, which is considered as an extra advantage because they hit by water regularly. Thus, it is food-safe, and better than Poplar wood. Through time, Beech wood achieves a uniquely beautiful reddish tint. 

There is one thing to note, however. Beech wood has the tendency to shrink due to the environmental elements. This may be prevented, though, with the right wood conditioning. 

Finishing A Poplar Cutting Board

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The best way to make sure of the safety of a cutting board made of Poplar wood is proper finishing. A food-safe mineral oil can achieve an amazing finish. Since poplar boards are hardwood, they are generally tough and rough. 

It may also be painted using different colors, but make sure that the paints are also food-safe, free from chemicals. Experts and professionals advise coating Poplar wood cutting boards well. After paint is applied, you can then apply food-safe mineral oil to finish the job. Oil is what makes the board surface smooth, allowing you to easily cut anything on it safely, while cleaning it well safely too. 


Is Poplar good for cutting boards? With all its properties, it is safe to say that Poplar is not good for cutting boards. It is too porous and soft, making not ideal for heavy cutting uses, such as in cutting boards. The very same characteristics make it suck up bacteria quite fast, which makes it not ideal for cutting boards that come in contact with food. The cutting marks may be hard to clean, and bacteria may go deep into them. What do you think about this? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!



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