The beauty of wood is infinitely various. Each species has a unique set of physical
properties stability, hardness, weight, machineability, etc. which determines its
suitability for a given application. In addition to performance, there are also aesthetic
considerations: how does it look and feel? I seek out visually interesting specimens
– of bird's-eye and curly maples; curly cherry; quarter-sawn lumbers – structurally
suitable wood which also exhibits an interesting figure or grain pattern. When possible,
we will try to match any particular preference for species and appearance you may
Hard maple is the obvious choice for my cutting boards both for practical and aesthetic
reasons. It's extremely durable, and wears slowly and evenly. Craftsmen consider
it highly "workable" – a pleasure to cut, shape and finish with precision.
And it's a very stable wood, which means that it resists warping, cracking, swelling
and splitting due to the stresses of temperature and humidity. With maple, I can
achieve exactly the shapes I want, and be assured they'll stay that way.
Because of its high density and fine, even grain, hard maple resists marring from
knife cuts, and absorbs relatively little moisture from food. It also provides a
pleasing finish – a smooth, even surface with an attractive luster. This is important
to me, as I work to achieve a finish that is virtually liquid in its smoothness.
All of my cutting boards are made from bird's-eye maple, which exhibits a pattern
of hundreds of small oval figures resembling bird's eyes. Only one in perhaps 500
hard maple trees will exhibit this pattern, and experts are uncertain why it occurs.
It may result from a fungus, or particular stresses on the growing tree. Because
bird's-eye maple varies tremendously in color and pattern, I create each cutting
board from custom-matched sections selected from a single piece of wood. This gives
each board its distinctive appearance.
Sometimes known as Cabinet cherry or New England mahogany, black cherry is one of
the most highly prized cabinet woods in North America. Woodworkers know why it seems
to cooperate with almost anything you might wish to ask of it.
Cherry grain is fairly straight (except for the wavy radiance of curly cherry) and
the texture is uniform. The wood has a delightful warm, rich luster that rewards
the eye. It yields predictably and precisely to edge tools, and is a joy to work.
Once seasoned, it remains dimensionally stable, holds fasteners well, and polishes
to a beautiful finish that gets richer and darker with age. A day spent working with
cherry is always a good day, and the end result just gets prettier as the years go
White oak is forever dense, hard, strong and extremely wear-resistant. If you had
to choose one wood to build furniture and cabinetry that would serve and strengthen
an entire nation, you might do no better than oak. And in America, where oak is plentiful,
that's pretty much what happened.
Before the Age of Steel, oak symbolized strength, and was the material of choice
for building anything you needed to withstand punishment and last a long time. It's
also a very attractive wood, and despite being demanding to work, is well worth the
I prefer white oak to other oak varieties because of its density and the golden-brown
color it acquires when finished.
American black walnut is highly valued for such applications as fine furniture, gunstocks,
decorative panels and musical instruments. Heavy, hard, strong and stiff, it's usually
easily worked with tools, and remains stable in use. Walnut has a gratifying, satiny
feel. and finishes to a velvety sheen. Typically, the wood has an interesting grain
pattern that reveals itself beautifully when finished.
The appeal of quarter-sawn lumber
There are basically two approaches to cutting a log into planks plain-sawing and
quarter-sawing. Plain-sawing means slicing the log more or less parallel to the tree's
annular rings, while in quarter-sawing, the cuts are made radially to the rings (see
Most lumber is plain-sawn; primarily because this method will yield more planks
from a given log. Quarter-sawn lumber is harder to find and more expensive, but has
several desirable attributes, not the least of which is its appearance. Quarter-sawn
lumber will display the wood's ring structure on its wide surface, as well as showing
figures and grain patterns to best advantage. Since white oak can otherwise be a
somewhat bland-looking wood, I greatly prefer the visual interest of quarter-sawn
Quarter-sawn lumber has structural advantages as well: it shrinks, swells, twists,
cups and splits less readily than plain-sawn. It also wears more evenly and tends
to be more naturally water-resistant.
Oils and finishes we use
Edward's Cutting Board Oil
Edward's Oil is compounded of all-natural, food-safe, FDA-approved oils especially
for Edward Wohl cutting boards and blocks. Edward's Oil is also terrific for treating
a wide variety of wood surfaces, including countertops, chopping blocks, pastry boards,
serving trays, salad bowls, utensils, and more. Edward's Oil comes in 16-oz. bottles
and may be ordered with your cutting board(s) or separately.
How we finish your furniture:
When you purchase a chest, jewelry box, or chair, as well as most dressers and cabinets,
it will be finished with Velvit Oil, a commercial soy-based resin which protects
against moisture and stains. For optimum long-term care, it should be periodically
sanded lightly (600 grit sandpaper or 0000 steel wool), re-oiled and wiped dry.
For your table, bench or blanket chest, we use 3 coats of a very durable spray varnish,
which is then hand-rubbed with fine sandpaper and steel wool. Resistant to moisture,
alcohol and marring, this lustrous finish is virtually maintenance-free.