In 2014, we wrote a rather extensive blog post on what wood is right for you. We were often asked what wood we recommended for a customer. We couldn't really tell people what wood was best for them because for every customer, there are different needs and wants. Many people love the dark warmth of walnut, but from an engraving standpoint, it doesn't always provide a good contrast when burned. Maple makes for an excellent cutting board, but many people love the darker woods and are turned off by the white color of maple even if it is superior in its cutting board utility. We decided to give the customer information to make a more educated choice for what they might prefer in their custom cutting board. This time we are separating the wood blog into 2 posts; darker woods, and lighter woods.
Side Note - when I reference a "hardness" of the wood, I am referencing the Janka hardness scale that measures wood for its denting and wear. The higher the janka rating, the more durable the wood is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janka_hardness_test
Walnut is a wood loved by many. It's rich and warm at the same time. It is a dense wood and very durable. It is an excellent choice for a cutting board, and with proper care can last a lifetime. Engraving walnut can be a challenge at times, depending on how dark the walnut is and how much detail is in the image being engraved. We do not recommend using walnut on a hand written recipe engraving or anything with small writing. Without the right light, the dark wood will make it nearly impossible to read.
Sapele is an african wood. It is a favorite of customers as well. The color varies more than some of the other woods we offer. In the picture shown, the sapele is more reddish, but we have had many pieces that come to us in a more purple hue. It is a very hard and dense wood, and makes for an excellent cutting board. As shown in the picture, it engraves black, which makes for am amazing contract in most designs we do. However, as with the walnut, small writing can become dark and somewhat blurry when engraved onto the sapele wood. The hardness of sapele wood is even more than that of walnut.
White Oak was the wood that made our company what it is today. We began selling white oak cutting boards because our supplier at the time had an excess of stock he needed to move, and our little company was born. White oak has been a long standing favorite wood with our customer base. This is also a very hard wood, and somewhat heavy to handle. It is more dense than both the sapele and walnut woods. One of the drawbacks for some customers is that while it is oak, it does have the white sapwood in some boards. This gives it a more rustic appeal that some customers enjoy, but others find it a nuisance. It engraves mostly black, however sometimes we get some very hard pieces and the engraving can be more of a dark brown. The white oak also has more grain than other woods, and that graining will come out in the engraving.
True hickory is very hard, dense, and rustic. I personally love the characteristics of hickory as it is a very heavy wood. Most of my wood workers don't like my love of hickory because of its hardness. It is not kind to their blades. As shown in the picture, hickory has a mix of light and dark wood giving it a very rustic appearance. The dark color is more caramel in color. The engraving is a dark brown and not as grainy as the white oak. Nearly any image will turn out perfectly on hickory.
This mahogany is an african mahogany. Color can range from pink to dark reddish brown. This wood is not as hard or dense as the other woods on this list. It engraves black as shown in the picture. People love the varied colors and the great contrast in the engraving. We currently do not offer Honduran Mahogany (what most recognize as mahogany in furniture) largely because of both availability and price. African mahogany is a great choice for a more decorative piece in the home or kitchen. As with the hickory, the dark contract and lack of graining, engraving almost any image comes out perfectly.