I've turned a recycled piece of canadian oregon & a recylced piece of australian messmate into an end-grain chopping board.

However, I've got minor concerns about two items on the end product that I was hoping for some help with...

  1. There is something which I think is sap/resin. Is this a bad thing? I understand that somebody might - whilst cutting into the board - cut into the resin. Is that bad? Is it poisonous? enter image description here

  2. The boards used to have nails in them. They've all been pulled out now, but is it bad that they used to have nails in them? I mean, if the nails had been rusty - as an example - would any leftover embedded rust be something that is bad to have on the board?

Note that in the above picture, that is the side of the board, and it isn't finished yet... Still need to plane down the top of the board and trim up the sides.


  • 2
    "recycled piece of canadian oregon & a recylced piece of australian messmate" - I would be very wary about using recycled wood in a chopping board unless you know the history of it. Depending on where it came from it could have any sort of chemicals split on it along the way. If it was just a barn wall/floor it wouldn't have been cleaned off. If it was a house floor could have years of cleaning chemicals soaked it. If it was house framing/piles, could have been fumigated along the way to deal with borer. You can't seal it in, and constant chopping is always going to be exposing more wood.... Dec 6 '16 at 21:36

The resin pockets may not be an issue. The resins from some trees such as pine are commonly eaten (or made into hot drinks) in certain parts of the world, that's how non-toxic it can be. But without specific info on the exact species you're using I don't think you should make any assumptions.

"Canadian oregon" is better known to much of the rest of the world as Douglas fir by the way.

The nail holes I would be very concerned by personally, in particular because you're using recycled wood. The obvious first worry is they are major voids in the wood which could harbour food waste and breed bacteria. But on top of this you can't know what might have gotten into a nail hole before the wood came into your possession. You're going to have to make a judgement call on whether you think it's worth the risk. Myself, if I was dead set on using the wood I would drill out the nail holes to expose clean wood, then fill them. YMMV.

You say you still need to plane the top of the board, just in case you were planning on sending this through a planer/thicknesser be extremely careful. Although people do get away with this (using certain pieces of hardware, not all planers are made equal) other people have had disastrous accidents trying this.

If something goes wrong the least you can expect is the board being heavily damaged or broken apart, sending pieces of it flying out of the back of the machine at high speed. Although that gives the potential for personal injury this might give you more pause — there's a chance of your planer being destroyed by the shrapnel. So this is not a risk to take lightly.

  • Thanks for the response! Good to know about the resin. Also good to know about the nail holes. I might turn these into trivets instead of chopping boards given your advice...
    – Jty.tan
    Dec 6 '16 at 8:35
  • Oh also, when I said planar, what I actually meant was using my router sled to plane it down. Bad wording on my part. But yes I've seen the warnings and scary pictures about the end grain thicknessers. Definitely not something I ever intend to try. :D
    – Jty.tan
    Dec 6 '16 at 8:37
  • Router sled is totally the best option for this type of thing. On flattening, if I'd noticed this earlier I would have mentioned something, but you could do a lot to lessen the need to flatten by using cauls of some kind during the clamp up. The flatter you can get the glue-up the less time final flattening requires and the less wood you lose, potentially just about 1mm rather than the 3-5mm it looks like will be needed here going by the edge in the photo.
    – Graphus
    Dec 6 '16 at 14:15
  • I actually didn't have enough clamps to put cauls on the one on the picture as I was making two of them at the same time... actually, I had a follow up question. If I were to use the varnish method suggested by wood whisperer, and since that is mostly coating the fibres. Would the concern about rusts in the timber be lowered?
    – Jty.tan
    Dec 6 '16 at 14:37
  • 2
    A rule here on WoodworkingSE is one question per question. Write a new one and you will get more answers. HTH
    – LosManos
    Dec 6 '16 at 21:26

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