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    Epoxy for Cutting Boards, just say No.

    Epoxy for Cutting Boards, just say No.

    Epoxy for Cutting Boards, just say No.

    With the advent and popularity of DYI hobby sales websites, we at Todd Alan Woodcraft have been seeing a lot of DIY wood hobbyists selling cutting boards with epoxy coatings -or- having the epoxy embedded in the wood near the cutting surface. As a professional woodworking company we felt called to address why this is a bad idea and you should really- just say No, to epoxy cutting surfaces.

    We at never use epoxy on any of our cutting boards or butcher blocks for many different reasons which I will address below.

    First and foremost, food grade epoxy is safe when applied correctly for non-cutting, or light duty cutting surfaces, such as serving boards, charcuterie boards or serving trays therefore epoxy does have its place in the kitchen or dining room.
    There are many beautiful charcuterie and serving boards using food grade epoxy available on our site here.

     

    This food grade level of epoxy is a different FDA grade than what you would normally see in table tops, benches ect. and unfortunately a lot of DIY hobbyists may not be up to industry speed on which products are safe and which are not safe to use on a surface that makes contact with food.

    There are so many products catering to the DIY crowd are produced outside of the US where possibly some of the compounds are not listed, and let alone the thousands of “tutorials” by professionals and other hobbyists, there is a lot of conflicting information on direction and use for epoxy.  Its extremely important that if you are a DIY Hobbyist selling your product, and reading this blog, that you make sure you search out brands that have high-ratings and are compliant with FDA standards. Also it’s equally important that you learn to properly measure, mix, pour and cure any epoxy. 

    When it comes to purchasing a cutting board or butcher block, it is extremely important that it contains no epoxy on or near the cutting surface- food grade or not.

    When you use a cleaver or kitchen knife on a wood surface, wood has a natural way of self-healing over time and several studies have found that there are natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in many varieties of harder wood due to its porous healing nature. Wood pulls bacteria in trapping and killing it through the drying process after cleaning. 

    The following are some of the problems with epoxy as a medium to heavy Use cutting surface and why we don’t use it:  When coated with epoxy, or making contact with epoxy,  wood reacts differently and doesn’t self heal once you’ve broken though the epoxy to the wood level.

     

    Epoxy over time can collect bacteria hiding under the deep scratches and cuts on a cutting board from your knives, even if cleaned thoroughly. Blood and Juices can dry and create a bacteria laden surface.

    Epoxy can break down over time with knife use and also chip and splinter when used as a butchering or medium to heavy cutting surface. Small particles could get into your food, and thus get into your digestive system.  
    Epoxy is a hard plastic surface, and harder on cleavers and knife blades, causing them to dull faster. 

    And finally, epoxy will over time with chopping and butchering use and heavy cleaning will eventually end up looking horrible with scuffing or clouding, thus destroying any heirloom or artistic value of your board.

    When you are considering purchasing a cutting board or butcher block, we at Todd Alan Woodcraft, suggest purchasing one that is Wood based without epoxy inlay and is sourced and produced in the USA from a professional and experienced woodworker.

    You can find our full line Todd Alan Woodcraft line of Cutting Boards Here.  

    Functional Natural Minimalism: Wood and Metal are back. Trends for 2020

    Functional Natural Minimalism: Wood and Metal are back. Trends for 2020

    Welcome to 2020. Part of the job of operating a design, production and retail company is watching trends in interior design and home decor.  There are many major trends which we see coming on for the next 2 to 5 years, and some micro-trends which we won’t  address since they’re short term.  We’re looking for those trends of substance. Since wood comes in so many different grain patterns, colors and styles we are always on the look out to see what suits our clients and how we can adapt our current products to fit the longer term trends, avoiding short term changes and “craze”s.

     

    One major trend, that is still on the go is Minimalism. We’re not talking about cleaning house and throwing away things you don’t need and living in a sterile environment akin to a hospital surgery suite. We’re seeing people living with less plastic clutter, but most importantly the home items they're purchasing have a form and function to them and are natural. Minimalism is often confused by people who think it’s little to nothing in product and size, and all straight lines.
    There are a lot of Minimalist pieces with curved edges or natural edges made of either plastic, composite or natural materials, such as wood. Organic elements that are crafted are making a strong comeback for the next few years.  Wood we predict, with its organic aesthetics- taking the environment and sustainability into account, will be a long term trend.
    Many Mod and Minimalist pieces are being produced from engineered “glue lam” and cross-laminated timber. This was a hot trend starting in 2019 and we see this going far into the 2020’s.

     

    Wood.

    Wood is making a strong comeback into kitchens as people tire of disposable plastic products.  This goes from flooring, walls, blocks and countertops. Comfortable looks inspired by nature that give small spaces an organic, natural and open feeling.  
    We’re seeing a long term trend of Maple, White Oak, French Oak, old growth reclaimed Vertical Grain Fir and Ash- all lighter woods, white or off-white blonde. These go well with some of the interior paint trends we’ve been seeing end of 2019  into 2020 and going into 2021 are- Purples, Pinks , Frosty blue and Pastels in all different shades.
    We are also seeing a long term trend at the opposite end of the color spectrum for interior. Darker natural woods- such as Walnut, Roasted Oak,  Mahogany and flame charred European and French Oak. All natural and without any staining, just a good clear protectant.  Interior colors going with the darker woods from 2020 and beyond are Cobalt Blue, Clay Red, Sliver Gray and coming back for the next few years is a Mustard Yellow and Hunter and Jade Green. 
    Natural wood serving trays, cutting boards and serving boards of all these light and darker woods are desirable for many homeowners in their kitchens, replacing thin plastic or composite cutting and serving boards.  Wood is a great economic way to add visual impact into a space.  
    Maybe you want a big KickAsh cutting board in your kitchen, something as simple artistic and rustic as a European Styled Charcuterie Board or something elegant and relaxed like a Reclaimed Vertical Grain Fir Ottoman Tray. We like Teak Wood, because it’s versatile and can tie in with a lighter or darker home environment. It looks good with a variety of popular and even timeless colors. We have a limited line of Plantation Teak Serving/Charcuterie Boards  that would be great for a black and cobalt blue with white room -or- would go well with a frosty blue and white room as well. Metallics go well with Teak too.

     

    Metal (and wood) Lighting

    Metal lighting with natural wood accents is making an illuminated comeback this year and next for every room in the house in the form of table lamps. One popular style is Industrial lighting that’s a combination of vintage pieces picked from various era’s and paired with wood bases. 
    Industrial era lighting is different than what’s commonly called “Steam punk” style lighting, as Industrial is simple, clean and with little parts as possible. Steam punk has unneeded parts that mimic imagined steam powered recreations of modern pieces and can tend to look gaudy. 
    Industrial era lighting is merging existing materials, mixing various metals and wood to form something new with its own unique characteristics- industrial chic. Many of our customers are interested in the parts and woods they’re opening their homes to.  We’re being asked about the backstory on the antique metal parts and reclaimed woods we’re incorporating into our deigns.
    Two examples of Industrial era table lamps are our  Raw Steel Industrial Edison Lamp on Figured Maple and Roasted Oak base and the one-of-a-kind Pipe Threader Edison Lamp we have on the Todd Alan Woodcraft site.
    With Industrial Era lighting, we suggest incandescent Edison style light bulbs. Lamps with Edison bulbs provide essential brightness and give a room a feeling of warmth.  Edison bulbs go great with the light colors this year, as well as the cooler  darker colors. 

     

    Mod Lighting

    Mod(ern) lighting is looking like it’s off to a great start in 2020.  This iconic style features funky patterns combined with sophistication.  Wood is another key component of this trend, as compared to the past 10 years, with metals and plastic. Retro designs feature sleek lines, simple forms and pairing those with creativity and imagination in accents.
    A great example of Mod Lighting is our Polished Copper Grand Edison Floor Lamps in Vertical Grain Fir Base where the unique end-grain patterns of the lamp bases give way to the sleek copper pole, and features an oversized exposed Edison bulb.  These lamps go well with a variety of up and coming popular colors on the light and dark ends of the spectrum.
    Since table lamps are the thing it seems this year, we’ve been ahead of the trend with our  Baltic Birch Framed Copper Lamp in Jatoba Base Minimalist lamp, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It’s a complex yet simple table lamp using a glue of Baltic Birch in the form of plywood as the frame holding a simple single light.
    The atmosphere in a Mod inspired room should never be overwhelming with different elements. Mod is inspired by simplistic, futuristic art and each piece should be a work on its own. Mod lighting and Mod style goes well with lighter colors, allowing the pieces to “pop” and stand out.  The lighter colors of wood in lamps work well in Pinks, Purples and pastels. 
    To sum it up, we look forward to the future and what growth and changes are in style, finish and materials are around the corner. We also look to the past, and how we can conceive new ideas from tried and true iconic styles.
    Pick what you like since your personality is reflected in your style, color palette and design. Its your personal environment, your experience and inspiration, there is no one-size-fits-all element or trend. There are so many options in wood, metals and fun colors- have fun in 2020 adding a touch of adventure to your home!

    Kyoto Style Cold Brew Coffee Makers.

    Kyoto Style Cold Brew Coffee Makers.

    Whether you’re a Brewbie (brewing newbie) or a seasoned  Barista, the gravity fed method of brewing coffee is a diverse and unique way to craft artisan coffee.  What I’m talking about are the cool looking towers of wood and glass, displayed prominently in many coffee shops and coffee aficionado’s homes around the world- Kyoto Style Coffee Tower.

     

    So what is a Kyoto style coffee tower and what’s it do?

    First, I’ll cover what Kyoto style coffee is. Kyoto Style Coffee is a slow drip brewing process first made popular in Japan a few centuries ago. According to the source of all knowledge on the internet, wikipedia, it states: 

     

    “Cold brew coffee originated in Japan, where it has been a traditional method of coffee brewing for centuries. Slow-drip cold brew, also known as Kyoto-style, or as Dutch coffee in East Asia (after the name of coffee essences brought to Asia by the Dutch), refers to a process in which water is dripped through coffee grounds at room temperature over the course of many hours.”

     

    Unlike immersion style coffee making processes commonly called “toddy”, which submerges bagged coffee grounds in water for 10 to 24 hours, Kyoto style cold brew coffee is made by slowly dripping water onto coffee grounds via a gravity fed system using a drip rate valve and a large container of cool to cold water.

     

    This process, depending on water temperature, coffee grind coarseness, drip rate, bloom of the coffee (pre-saturating the coffee grounds before adding them to the secondary glass container) and other factors, can make this process go relatively quickly or painfully slow. We’ve had some go in 4 hours and others go up to 16 hours. The average for a good tasting  cold brew we’ve done is 6 to 8 hours. For a great cold brew concentrate, 10 to 16 hours is what we’ve done.

     

    Thats another great part of using a Kyoto coffee maker, it can be used to make cold-brew or it can be used to make cold brew concentrate.  Cold-brew itself is higher in caffeine than espresso, but slightly less than a brewed cup of coffee. Its a great balance between the two.

     

    Cold brew concentrate on the other hand, which is made by a longer steeping time of the water through the grounds, and a very slightly finer ground coffee, has a smooth but strong taste and more caffeine until its diluted with either water or your favorite type of milk.

     

    One note I wanted to mention from trial and error is, don’t use too fine of grounds. For some reason, if the grounds are too fine, water tends to pool on top of the grounds and just sits there. We’ve found a 6.75 to 7.25 on the grinder seems to be a great balance.

     

    Also cold brew has some great potential for health benefits  as studies are starting to show. I’ll get into some of that info near the end of this blog.
    The other excellent part of drinking cold brew is the taste and cost. 

     

    This method doesn’t heat the coffee grounds, so the bitter acidic aspects that come out in brewed (and then iced) coffees tend to have. Cold brew tends to be smoother and release more of the sweet notes with a deeper, richer flavor profile. 

     

    A lot of times you’ll have a chocolatey berry note followed by something slightly sweet and floral that comes out.  Again, all of this depends on how the beans are roasted and what area of the world the beans come from, and other factors. 

     

    You realistically could use the same grounds from the same bag of coffee and on one day, depending on room temperature, water temperature and the other factors I listed earlier- bring out totally different notes in the coffee from day to day.

     

    Experimenting with a cold brew tower is just fun!  We’ve added fresh mint from the garden to the Ice water drip, and that carried through to the final product- that we cut the concentrate with a teaspoon of simple syrup and sparkling water, adding a mint leaf for garnish.

     

    Have fun, play around and see what unique ideas you can do to create an unusual brew! 

     

    Kyoto Style Coffee Brewers make a lot of sense (dollars and cents). 

    If you love coffee this is pretty much a no-brainer on the direction to go to get the most kick for your buck! Depending on how much you produce, consume and give away to the friend and family who will be more than happy to accept a cup from you, you’re not going to be paying out at retail prices for a cup of cold brew. Producing a large quantity of cold brew (approximately around a gallon) - is well worth the investment.

     

    The Kyoto Tower- and no, its not a Japanese building.

     

    Like I’ve mentioned we call this a tower and as far as coffee brewing systems goes, it lives up to its name. The largest Todd Alan Woodcraft custom cold brew tower is just at 4 feet tall from base to top. Of course- we offer a smaller one more suited for small coffee shops and home brewers.

     

    A standard Kyoto system consists of a top beaker which is filled up with tepid water or ice and water- depending on the flavors you’re looking to bring out in your beans.  That water drips through the drip rate valve into the next glass chamber which holds your grounds.

     

    This level is where the water slowly seeps through your grounds for 4 to 24 hours depending on what kind of cold brew you’re looking to produce.
    At the bottom of your grounds beaker, is a ceramic reusable filter to keep sediments from making into your final brew.

     

    Once the cold brew passes through the filter, it drips into the receptacle at the top of a thin glass coil, where the dark coffee nectar  twists and turns through and slowly drips into the bottom craft.  You’ll know the process is finished when the top craft of water is empty and the coffee from the coil stage is mostly air bubbles with a little coffee and there’s a random drip now and then into the bottom craft. 

     

    Once the brewing process is done and your bottom craft is full, chill your cold brew in the fridge for about 12 to 24 hours to let it cure and develop some other flavor notes. When its ready to serve, lightly shake (if you have a lid) or swirl it to mix the brew up, pour and enjoy black or with cream and sugar to your taste! 

     

    Just remember, sugar is bad for the human body- and we suggest cutting out as much as possible.

     

    It’s not Coughy. Its Coffee (and its good for you)!

    Speaking of the human body, earlier I mentioned that Cold brew coffee had some potential health benefits. 

     

    According to an article on Healthline Magazine online, Cold brew may lower your risks of heart disease, help control high blood pressure, has been shown to help people lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, may reduce risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease- and a few other positive benefits to overall health.

     

    Say what?  Yep- studies are starting to roll in from different universities and research companies showing that cold brew coffee does have some interesting health potentials.

     

    Cold brew is loaded in antioxidants that are associated with good health. Cold brewing preserves Chlorogenic acid, one of the many powerful antioxidants that hot brewing methods are known to destroy.  It also contains phenylindanes which help protect the brain from age-related diseases and also its believed that cold brew coffee doesn’t create higher cortisol levels in the human body as hot water brewed coffee does.

     

    Additionally, because of being lower in acid, cold brew coffee is easier on the stomach for those who avoid coffee because of stomach issues such as acid reflux.

     

    Keep your eyes out for more studies to be released that are currently in the pipeline, if you’re into the science of coffee. As you can see, there are many reasons to switch to cold brew over hot coffee or ice-chilled versions of hot coffee. 
    The Kyoto Cold brew tower in your home or coffee shop is sure to be a conversation piece and unique addition to your decor.

     

    Using a Kyoto Style Cold Brew coffee maker is a great way to save money in the long run and even though it’s a longer brewing experience than hot coffee makers, its just fun to work with and experiment with! 
    Its a fun brewing and amazing flavor experience that’s just too good to pass up! 

     

    Reference:

    Toasted/Roasted Oak

    Toasted/Roasted Oak

    We’ve run into quite the debate online between self proclaimed “Old Timer” woodworkers and people newer to the craft, on what exactly is Roasted Oak.

    Everyone is familiar with the term “Toasted Oak” which is commonly associated with Whiskey and Wine barrel production. 

    Here at Todd Alan Woodcraft we tend to use a lot of Roasted Oak in many of our serving and charcuterie boards. We’ve found roasted oak has many different cool colors and really unique characteristics. 

    With that in mind, we set ourselves on a mission to sort through digital mess and see what we can figure out through the vast amounts of conflicting information, that always seems to be readily available on an internet search. 

    At the beginning, one word we noticed popping up over and over was “torrified wood,” or the process of torrefaction. According to dictionary.com Torridied means, "subject to fire or intense heat; parch, roast, or scorch.”  Some people were wrongly using the word “Char” and not understanding that charring is a whole different animal when it comes to the topic at hand.  This isn’t Charred Oak.

    Well awesome! That helps narrow things down (with a hint of sarcasm).  In many forums, most everyone basically agreed Torridied also referred to wood being “roasted” and/or “toasted” of which both those sound better than “torrified wood.”  

    Imagine trying to sell a “Maple and Torrified Oak” board. First off, it doesn’t sound that appealing, and Secondly- it sounds like someone scared the poor tree before taking it down. 

    Still not getting a clear answer, we headed back to a variety of online wood forums and dove right back into our research. 

    After 3 days of scouring over 20 different pages, groups and forums- here is what we’ve been able to put together for oak.

    Toasted oak = a high temperature for a short amount of time

    Roasted oak = a lower temperature for a longer amount of time

    So basically, SIMILAR RESULTS in the wood just a different process.  Its the heating process that ends up changing the woods color, to a darker reddish / brown color by releasing tannins in the wood and also changes the scent of the wood- to something like a combination of burnt cookies, nougat, light roast coffee and oak (Just a note: If your oak scrap is untreated chemically, it makes amazing wood to smoke meat with as we’ve found out).

    The oak almost looks like it has been stained, and almost takes on a medium dark Walnut color, if we were to give a close example in coloration. 

    There you have it! 

    Toasted and Roasted are very close to being the same wood, just through a different heating process.  Of course there are more complicated details to the process. but we’re not going to get into all the chemical and structural changes in the wood through the two different processes. That’s for you to do, we don’t want to take the fun out of it for you by providing everything!  Dig in yourself! You might actually find roasted/toasted oak interesting. 

    Either way if you continue the research or not, we hope you learned something, as we know we did doing the research for this blog. Do not try roasting or toasting your own wood at home. It’s a highly flammable process and if not done right, can be very dangerous. 

    If your local hardwood store ends up having some roasted oak come in, pick up a stick and play around with it- be creative- you never know, you might end up loving it as much as we at Todd Alan Woodcraft do!

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    Our Picks for Wine Pairings with Charcuterie

    One of the great things about entertaining just isn’t a house full of loved friends and family, no, one of the great things is you get to show off your creative culinary skills and your knowledge of pairings and to make that... “friend” who always brags about good they are in the kitchen, or “Aunt Hilda” who’s always so critical of the spread of food and variety of wine… very envious! 

    So, with that- even if you’re not fully knowledgeable about pairings of Charcuterie components and a good bottle of Vino, we’re here to help you look like a rockstar!  

    Since we come from the Pacific Northwest, we’ve picked one of our favorite Northwest, Internationally known wineries to highlight for this blog:  Argyle, located in Dundee Oregon.  

    “No other American winery but Argyle has earned recognition in Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the World” in three wine categories: red, white and sparkling.” - argylewinery.com

    All the wines mentioned in this blog are available on Argyle’s site ( for those of you 21 and over) and are just amazing, we know, we’ve tried them all!  From the Floral and Fruity Pinot Noir to the slightly fruity and full-bodied Chardonnay Argyle wines are a great choice for any occasion. 

    Here are the selections of wine or sparkling we picked for pairings of cheese and different meats. 

    Argyle Spirit Hill Pinot Noir
    Cheese: Gruyere 
    Meat: Pate (Chicken, Duck, Goose or Pork) or Foie gras with herbed crustini.

    Argyle Rose Sparkling
    Cheese: Chocolate Cream (Dairy or Goat) cheese, Mascarpone cheese
    Meat: Ginger or Mint infused Pancetta and Roast beef bacon with a dollop of fig jam topped with a spot of creme fresh.

    Argyle Brut Sparkling  
    Cheese: Camembert, Parmesan
    Meat: Lardo (cured fatback) or Prosciutto 

    Argyle Knudsen Vineyard Blanc de Blancs
    Cheese: Chèvre or a White Soft Brie style Cheese with Peppers (Chipotle, Jalapeño, Habanero) 
    Meat: Prosciutto.

    Argyle Nuthouse Riesling
    Cheese: Swiss fondu, Taleggio or an aged Manchego
    Meat: A Lamb based meat product- slices of Fenalar (a Norwegian dried and cured leg of lamb).  

    Argyle Chardonnay
    Cheese: Creamy Shropshire Blue Cheese or Sharp Cheddar
    Meat: Cedar Plank Grilled Chilled Salmon or Chicken Salad Bites on Water Crackers.

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