Saturday, March 2Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Cutting Board in Tagalog? Origin, Types, and Sizes

A cutting board in Tagalog is called “sangkalan” or “tadtaran”, wherein tadtad means “chop.” Also called a chopping board, this kitchen tool is the best friend of kitchen knives in preparing food. Regardless of the economic status of a family, a cutting board is always present in the kitchen. Note, however, that it is different from a butcher block. 

cutting board in Tagalog
Sangkalan in the Philippines

No one knows exactly who invented the cutting board, and there’s no historical evidence about its origin. Nonetheless, it’s very clear that “sangkalan” was invented when ancient people learned how to cut meat for food. Before the modern chopping boards, they probably used tree trunk slabs as the earliest forms of butcher blocks. 

When the saw was invented, early butchers began to cut tree trunks and used them for cutting meat. At that time, maple wood was the most commonly used due to its durability and long-lasting use. Wood surfaces were also discovered to be useful in preventing knives from being dull. Wood was also used as an executioner’s block. 

In 1887, Conrad Boos of Effingham, Illinois harvested sycamore trees and asked a blacksmith to make him a slab for his blacksmith shop. When a local butcher admired the tool, Conrad’s son, John, made his own butcher block. In 1892, he established John Boos & Co, which eventually became a pioneer brand of butcher’s blocks in the US. 

The main difference between a cutting board and a butcher block is the size. Chopping boards are usually ½ to 2 inches thick, while butcher blocks are generally at least 1.5 inches in thickness. The latter is also wider, heavier, and mostly made using end grain. Although both tools are called “sangkalan” in the Philippines, they have different uses. 

Butcher blocks are mostly used in cutting huge pieces of meat and are commonly seen in the market and butcheries. On the other hand, cutting boards are usually for cutting small pieces of meat, fish, ingredients, fruits, and vegetables. They are seen in kitchens at home and in restaurants. Both of them can be rectangular, square, round, or oval. 

Aside from wood, there are other materials used for making chopping boards. This includes bamboo, glass, marble, and plastic. Bamboo cutting boards are lightweight and are usually used for cutting raw meat and vegetables. Tempered glass cutting boards are cheaper, nonporous, and inexpensive, but can damage knives and be prone to breakage. 

Marble cutting boards are expensive but very durable, and are ideal for cutting foods with a high risk of bacteria. Plastic cutting boards started to become a good alternative for wood cutting boards during salmonella outbreaks in 1995. Meanwhile, Epicurean cutting boards are made of Richlite, a non-absorbent, eco-friendly, and durable wood composite. 

Chopping board sizes vary, and can be categorized as small and big. Small cutting boards can be 4 x 6 inches, 5 x 7 inches, 6 x 9 inches, and 10 x 8 inches. Big cutting boards can be 7 x 23 inches, 18 x 18 inches, 18 x 24 inches, and 18 x 30 inches. Wood cutting boards are also usually bigger and thicker than plastic chopping boards.

Use sangkalan in a sentence.


Kunin mo yung kutsilyo at sangkalan. Maghiwa ka ng bawang at sibuyas, magluluto tayo ng adobo.


Get the knife and cutting board. Cut some garlic and onions, we will cook adobo.

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