People spend a lot of time and money to find the perfect set of knives, but little attention is paid to the surface on which food is cut. Brad Englehardt of Knot-Again, based in Kingston, has uncovered the true potential for cutting boards with his gorgeous collection of pieces of various sizes and colors.
Englehardt makes boards with as much reclaimed and recycled wood as he can find.
“A lot of people that I know will give me wood from other projects,” Englehardt said.
He makes it a point to use wood that would be thrown away otherwise, because it keeps costs down for the consumer and diminishes the environmental impact of his business. He said that demand for his boards has grown so much that he has to purchase some of the wood, but he still tries to use material that other carpenters and craftsmen won’t be able to use for their projects. When he purchases wood, he buys “shorts,” which are pieces too small to be used normally.
“I’ll buy shorts or the wood that has character that no one else would use,” Englehardt said.
Englehardt uses three types of wood in his boards: cherry, maple, and black walnut. He started out using maple, which is the most common type of wood used in cutting boards, but began to explore different color options.
“I liked the colors of the wood: the cherry, the black walnut and the maple,” Englehardt said.
Knot-Again boards come in three different striped combinations that show off the contrast in colors of the materials. The board that incorporates all three colors is his best seller.
“I’ve made so many different combinations that these are the ones that people like the best,” Englehardt said.
Although he sells three main combinations on his website, Englehardt will take custom orders for different patterns or cutting board shapes. He also uses scrap from custom projects to make new board designs, and these are often one-of-a-kind pieces that he sells at trade shows and farmers markets.
The wood colors are so vibrant that many people think Englehardt uses stains to make the boards.
“The wood looks so great on its own that I don’t need to use stains,” Englehardt said.
The boards come in a variety of sizes, from 6”x8” to 12”x14”. There are also handled baguette boards and cheese cutters available in the signature patterns. Englehardt is always adding new items to the collection based on demand.
“Because of people asking for some custom work, that has created more boards for my line,” Englehardt said.
The boards can be purchased online at www.knotagain.com, at craft fairs and farmers markets (listed on the website) and at retail locations. Vintner’s Cellar in Bedford and Butter’s Fine Food and Wine in Concord sell Knot-Again’s line.
Englehardt constructs the boards by drilling small holes into the pieces, inserting small wooden pegs between the boards called biscuits, and gluing the pieces together using a glue that is FDA-certified for food preparation.
“The biscuits create a much stronger board than just the glue,” Englehardt explained.
Englehardt said that his boards aren’t very high maintenance, but shouldn’t be tossed in the dishwasher. The boards should be washed with soap and water in the sink, and then dried as thoroughly as possible. When water gets into the wood it can cause expansion and contraction, which can cause the board to break. So that they will repel water, Englehardt soaks the boards in mineral oil, and recommends that users keep their boards freshly oiled. He recommends mineral oil — he says vegetable oil works in a pinch but “there is a problem with that because it is a food product and it can go bad.”
Englehardt has been making the boards for seven years while working as a firefighter. He is less than two years away from being able to retire, and he hopes to continue making the cutting boards as a full-time business after he leaves the fire department.