cutting board teak will wear down a blade faster than maple
Knife Dulling Test
A 4.5-pound skillet helped us maintain an even downward pressure on each knife, while a ruler (in the background) allowed us to keep a consistent stroke length.
In theory, an end-grain board will be gentler on your knife than an edge-grain board will, and teak will wear down a blade faster than maple. To test this, I ordered a bunch of identical chefs knives, each with a brand-new factory edge. I then slid each knife back and forth on each cutting board, using a consistent five-inch stroke length and 4.5-pounds of downward pressure. After every 50 back-and-forth strokes, I would attempt to slice parchment paper with the blade, taking note of when I could detect a decrease in its cutting ability. I made sure to move the knives around on the boards so that I wasn't working the same spot over and over.
The maple end- and edge-grain boards with my expectations, though the differences were subtle. It took more than 300 strokes on each board before I began to notice a slight dulling on the knife that was used against the edge-grain board. And while it's difficult to see it in the photo below, the end-grain board was smoother to the touch at the 300-stroke mark than the edge-grain board was. This supports the wisdom that end-grain boards heal better than edge-grain boards do.
After 300 consistent knife strokes, the end-grain board (at left) has less severe scratches in it than the edge-grain board at right.
The end-grain acacia and teak boards similarly took about 300 strokes before knife dulling was clearly noticeable. That put them about on-par with the edge-grain Block maple board above. While they didn't perform as well as the maple end-grain Brooklyn Butcher Block board, they did well enough to keep them in the running. Edge-grain teak, however, utterly trashed the knife and got eliminated.
Strangely, the end-grain maple board performed worse than edge-grain alternative, with the knife used on the end-grain board growing dull before the 300-stroke mark, while the edge-grain was less severely dulled at that point. This defies expectations. One possibility is that the end-grain board's more exposed knots and cracks patched with filler could have taken a toll on the blade (this goes back to the visual inspection: a board with visible flaws may be problematic in more ways than one).