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Unread 09-25-2012, 08:35 AM   #1
Bob in St. Louis
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Default Building food safe plywood butcher blocks

Hey all,

I want to build cutting boards and am wondering about food safety.

I do quite a bit of wood working, and a product I use quite a bit is a voidless Baltic Birch plywood. I think the cut end of the plywood when stacked (showing the ply layers) looks pretty cool. My goal is to make cutting boards with the entire top surface being the exposed layers.

I'm not worried about the glue I use, and I'm not worried about waterproofing the piece, but I'm very worried about the glue used at the plywood factory and whether it's food safe or not.

Picture a hot juicy steak fresh off the grill "bleeding out" laying on the cutting board soaking up chemicals.....
I've been told that voidless Russian plywoods are epoxied together and are 'automatically' food safe, but the people weren't 100% confident.

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!
Bob
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Unread 09-25-2012, 09:08 AM   #2
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I'd never use plywood for a cutting board, to many issues from toxicity of the glue to falling apart after a while due to delamination. I know birch is a relatively hard wood but i'm not sure it'd stand up to the abuse like maple. I'd stick to the usual woods for cutting boards.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 09:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zak View Post
I'd never use plywood for a cutting board, to many issues from toxicity of the glue to falling apart after a while due to delamination. I know birch is a relatively hard wood but i'm not sure it'd stand up to the abuse like maple. I'd stick to the usual woods for cutting boards.
I agree with Zak.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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Check the MSDS for the glue used. As far as I know, the only food safe glue out there is made by Tightbond...II or III, I don't remember exactly. But I agree, as a general rule, plywood is out of the question for this type of use.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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Aahhhh crap.... You guys are letting the wind out of my sails. ha ha
But I am looking for the truth.

Remember, I'm not using "regular" Home Depot kinda plywood, it's Russian Baltic Birch.
(That's supposed to make a difference????)
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:02 AM   #6
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Tim,
I didn't know Titebond was food safe. Cool.
For the layers that I laminate, I was going with an epoxy, not woodglue.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:05 AM   #7
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The type of wood doesn't really matter IMO, it's the glue used. Remember, the regular Tightbond isn't food safe, it's either the Tightbond II or III. It's been a while since I made my cutting boards. But, it says right on the bottle that it's food safe and I'm sure that you could google it before hand.

Are you turning the wood on it's side for a side grain type of board or is it going to be the top layer with an exposed face/surface grain?
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:32 AM   #8
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I agree with the others and would not chance it, however, here's an idea for you- if you just have to have the plywood look you could go ahead and make your board, then lay a sheet of plexi or polycarbonate over it? Eventually it'll get scratched from cutting but you could simply replace it when it gets ugly. Just a thought.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:41 AM   #9
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I called a customer that makes plywood(Boise Cascade) and the glue that they use is not foodsafe.Looks like you need to go a different route.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolinaQue View Post
Check the MSDS for the glue used. As far as I know, the only food safe glue out there is made by Tightbond...II or III, I don't remember exactly. But I agree, as a general rule, plywood is out of the question for this type of use.
MSDS doesn't say anything about injesting because its "not likely"

I did see where the glue used was Phenolic. Couldn't find it, but Phenol is not food safe.

http://www.wolstenholme.com/resource-center/

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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolinaQue View Post
Are you turning the wood on it's side for a side grain type of board or is it going to be the top layer with an exposed face/surface grain?
My plan was to cut 2" wide strips 20" long and glue them together until I had a board about 24" wide.
That way, the top of the cutting surface would be hundreds of laminated layers of the wood going across.

1Funvet, thanks for checking for me. Very good to know.
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Unread 09-25-2012, 10:58 AM   #12
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AURadar, that'll work, thanks man!
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Unread 09-25-2012, 11:14 AM   #13
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I'm a hack wood worker and use lots of batic bich ply. I too like the expose edge look and got several pieces with it.

I know exactly the method your talking a bout. A buddy just did that to form the front of a pair os speakers. He reported pain in the but to get a flush face. Better have a planer.

I think i would just stack them and top it with a butcher block.

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Unread 09-25-2012, 01:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob in St. Louis View Post
I've been told that voidless Russian plywoods are epoxied together and are 'automatically' food safe, but the people weren't 100% confident.
I think that the other consideration might be, what effect will the epoxy have on knife blades?
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Unread 09-25-2012, 01:25 PM   #15
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Sounds like a cool idea. IMO, the plywood will never ever be in touch with food. The plywood will never get wet nor will the dry wood or dry glue contaminate the knives. I don't see what the cause for concern is for people.

Edit: I read the whole thing wrong. I'm going to agree with the others on this one. Plywood is going to be really soft as well as the glue and delamination issue.
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