Japanese knives have excellent blade sharpness and edge retention and will perform far better than your run-of-the-mill kitchen knife. However, if you want your Japanese knife to continue to work well to its full potential, you do need to treat it with care. Part of maintaining your knife involves using a suitable cutting board to protect its edge. Here’s how to choose a cutting board for your Japanese knife.
Overly Soft Boards
You may initially go for cutting boards made of plastic because their forgiving softness will prevent them from dulling your knife’s edge. While it’s true that they offer little resistance when you cut down into them, soft boards can cause some damage to Japanese knives. One of the defining traits of Japanese knives is harder steel. Although this helps them retain their shape better, it also means that some steel types can be more brittle than standard Western knives. So when you cut into a soft board beneath your ingredients, your knife is in danger as you pull it back up. If its edge gets stuck in the groove your knife can chip.
Overly Hard Boards
On the other end of the spectrum are hard boards. Glass, stone, bamboo, and some wood boards fall into this category. There’s little danger that you’ll cut deeply into these boards’ surface and chip your knife. As such, you can also count on harder cutting boards to last longer. But this comes at the cost of blunting your knife’s edge more quickly. Every time your Japanese knife hits the board, its edge will wear down or bend slightly, eventually hampering its cutting ability. You’ll then need to spend much more time sharpening it, which can reduce the lifespan of your knife.
Learning how to choose a cutting board for your Japanese knife is about finding products that strike a balance in hardness. Generally speaking wood is the best material for this. Types of wood available can vary depending on where you are located. In Japan, willow and ginkgo are popular choices because they have enough give to reduce wear on your kitchen knives and enough firmness to stop them from forming deep gashes. Hardness can also vary within the same wood species based on the conditions that the tree grew in.
Cutting board manufacturers have also produced some topboards by gluing end-grain wood pieces together so that the grain runs perpendicular to its cutting surface. These products are aptly called end-grain cutting boards. Their grain arrangement achieves an ideal hardness balance that isn’t necessarily inherent in the wood itself. Species that you may see in end-grain boards include maple, teak, and cedar, among others.
As you build your kitchen tool collection, knowing what cutting boards to use will help extend the life of your edge.If you are ready to buy your first Japanese knife or add to your collection, visit Chubo Knives online. We carry handmade Japanese vegetable knives, butcher knives, fish knives, and general-purpose knives to fill every need you may have.