Homemade Cutting Boards by Matt Carstens

Preserving nature with the kindest cut



Black cherry cutting board, $100. Photo by Chris Fortin

A beautiful cutting board is not the worst of fates for a tree. Woodworker Matt Carstens takes pride in harvesting a tree that is just past its prime, but not in decay. He finds his raw materials near his Whitefield home, at local log lots or from arborists.

Carstens chooses a piece of lumber from his stash and then decides its ultimate destination. The lumber has been stacked and dried for one to three years and further dried with a solar kiln. A piece selected for its grain may be cut into a gentle shape, while strips of narrower pieces may be glued together and cut into the shape of a state. Thickness can vary up to 1.5 inches for a butcher block look.

Closed grain woods, like maple and yellow birch, make better cutting boards because, unlike oak and mahogany, they will not harbor bacteria, says Carstens.

Beyond kitchen tools, Carstens also creates bookmarks, bookends, coffee tables and consoles, and he just finished a daybed. All these products will be showcased in his new shop, The Tree Trunk, to open soon in downtown Littleton.

What is the future of our forests? Carstens says, “Because the climate is warming, we will lose maples and ash trees, but foster more oak and beech.” He suggests we try to conserve species, and not burn prized trees for firewood — an ignoble end, indeed.

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