Choose the Best Wood for Durable Kitchen Utensils

When it comes to stocking your kitchen with utensils, few materials can compare to the beauty and functionality of wood. But not all woods are created equal when it comes to crafting sturdy, long-lasting kitchen tools. The right wood makes all the difference between utensils that withstand years of slicing, scooping, and stirring, and ones that quickly warp, crack, and splinter with use.

We’ll dish on which woods stand up best to water, heat, and wear. And we’ll clue you in on the ideal types of wood for common kitchen tools like cutting boards, spoons, and rolling pins. Let’s get cooking!

Hardwoods vs. Softwoods

The first decision when selecting wood for utensils is whether to opt for a hardwood or softwood. So what’s the difference, and which is better suited for the kitchen?


Hardwoods come from deciduous trees like oak, maple, cherry, and walnut. They are classified as hardwoods because of their dense cellular structure.

Benefits of using hardwoods for kitchen utensils include:

best wood for kitchen utensils
  • Durability – Hardwoods stand up to heavy use without scratching.
  • Attractive grain patterns – Many feature beautiful grains that add to a utensil’s appeal.
  • Resistance to bacteria – Their tight grain doesn’t allow food particles and germs to penetrate.

Some top choices for utensils are beech, birch, maple, teak, cherry, and walnut.


Softwoods are wood that comes from coniferous or evergreen trees like pine, cedar, and fir. They are less dense than hardwoods, making them more prone to scratches and bacteria.

Drawbacks of using softwoods for kitchen utensils include:

  • Scratching – Softer surface shows marks more easily.
  • Bacteria concerns – More open wood grain can harbor germs.
  • Not moisture resistant – Absorbs water more readily.

Although they cost less, softwoods like pine and cedar generally aren’t ideal for utensils.

Best Woods for Kitchen Utensils

Now let’s dive into some top woods for crafting kitchen tools that will stand the test of time. We’ll explore what makes each wood variety perfect for utensils.


Teak comes from tropical hardwood trees mainly grown in Southeast Asia. It’s prized for its durability, water resistance, and beautiful grain.

Benefits of teak wood include:

  • Dense and moisture resistant – Its natural oils repel water.
  • Easy to clean – Has a smooth surface that doesn’t trap food particles.
  • Attractive finish – Has a tight, even grain with lovely golden tones.

Teak is ideal for cutting boards, spoons, spatulas, and ladles that will get wet. Its hardness also makes it perfect for mortar and pestles that need to withstand pressure.


Cherry wood comes from cherry tree varieties native to Europe and North America. It’s prized for its rich red hues.

Benefits of cherry wood include:

  • Hardness – Good resistance to nicks and scratches.
  • Smooth texture – Its fine grain has little no porosity.
  • Lovely color – Ranges from reddish brown to deep red.

Cherry wood is ideal for rolling pins, spatulas, tongs, and salad tossers. Its smoothness also makes it perfect for wooden bowls.


Walnut trees are grown across North America, Europe, and Asia. Walnut wood is prized for its durability and striking grain patterns.

Benefits of walnut wood include:

  • Dense and strong – Can withstand repeated kitchen use.
  • Beautiful grain – Features swirling grains in brown hues.
  • Polishes easily – Responds well to natural oil finishes.

Walnut works excellently for cutting boards, spoons, rolling pins, and bowls. Its fine finish also makes it ideal for mortar and pestles.


Beech trees are native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Beech wood is known for its density, hardness, and wear resistance.

Benefits of beech wood include:

  • Very hard – Stands up to heavy use.
  • Tight grain – Doesn’t harbor food and bacteria.
  • Light color – Provides nice contrast for food.

Beech is excellent for cutting boards, spoons, tongs, and rolling pins. Its hardness also makes it ideal for mortar and pestles.

Factors to Consider

When selecting a wood for kitchen utensils, here are some important factors to weigh.

Hardness and Wear Resistance

A wood’s hardness indicates how well it resists dents, scratches, and knife marks. Hardness is measured using a scale called the Janka Hardness Test. The higher the rating, the more wear resistant the wood.

Teak, cherry, maple and walnut all rate over 1000 on the Janka scale. Softer woods like pine and cedar rate only around 350.

In general, look for woods with a higher hardness rating. They’ll maintain their smooth surfaces despite heavy kitchen use.

Resistance to Bacteria

A fine, close wood grain is important for kitchen hygiene. Smoother wood has less surface area for food particles and bacteria to cling to.

Open-grained softwoods like pine and cedar allow germs to penetrate the wood. This makes them more difficult to fully sanitize.

Applying a protective food-safe finish further enhances the bacteria resistance of any wood.

Ease of Care

Depending on the wood variety, some routine maintenance is needed to prevent drying and cracking.

Many woodworkers recommend periodically applying food-grade mineral oil to keep wooden utensils protected. Some woods may require oiling more frequently than others.

Check manufacturer instructions for each wood type’s care guidelines. Proper drying and avoidance of dishwasher use are also advised.


Wood varieties have differing grain patterns, textures, and hues. Factor in personal preferences for color and appearance.

For a harmonious look, choose wood utensils that complement your kitchen’s color palette and style.

Avoiding Pitfalls

While wood makes for beautiful and functional kitchenware, there are some possible drawbacks to be aware of.

Preventing Splintering

Any wood can splinter over time, compromising the safety and integrity of kitchen utensils. Proper finishing and care can prevent splintering.

Sanding wood to an ultra-smooth finish before treating it with food-safe oil or beeswax will seal the surface. This prevents moisture from seeping in and the wood splitting.

Drying wood properly after use and oiling periodically will also maintain its integrity and prevent splintering.

Ensuring Food Safety

Research indicates that when properly finished and cared for, many hardwoods present a low risk for bacterial growth. However, some basic precautions will enhance safety.

Opt for close-grained woods and apply protective finishes. Allow utensils to fully dry between uses. Disinfect with food-safe cleaning solutions. Avoid letting wood soak or sit wet for prolonged periods.

Take extra care when using wood utensils for raw meats and other foods presenting a higher safety risk.

Withstanding Moisture

While no wood loves prolonged soaking, some varieties handle moisture better than others. Teak and beech are among the most water-resistant options.

Allowing wood to fully dry between uses will help prevent warping, cracking, and bacterial growth. Don’t let wood soak overnight.

Periodic reapplication of protective oils enhances water resistance. Avoid putting wood tools in the dishwasher.

When chosen carefully, wood can make for kitchen utensils that are as beautiful as they are durable and practical. Seek out hardwoods like teak, cherry, and walnut that offer hardness, moisture resistance, and smooth textures.

Take care to maintain any wood utensils through proper cleaning methods and occasional oiling. With the right selection and care, you can craft and enjoy kitchen tools made from wood that will be passed down for generations.

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