End Grain Cutting Board

End Grain Cutting Board
Last week was my father’s birthday and I decided to make him an end grain cutting board.  This has always been a project I have wanted to build but just never taken the time.  Now an end grain cutting board is not that complicated of a project and I was anxious to get started.  So rather than do a little research on how others have built the project, such as Marc Spagnoulo’s video on The Woodwhisperer site which is a great easy to follow step by step instruction, I decided to jump in feet first and started cutting.  Besides how hard can it be?  It’s just a bunch of blocks…right?
After ripping all of the boards to width and then cutting the blocks to length, I did a dry fit for the pattern and it looked great.  I built a frame out of 2×4 blocks and clamped it to my bench to keep it square.  To keep the cutting board from sticking to the frame during glue up I wrapped it in wax paper.  Next, it was time to start gluing.  I used a brush to apply glue to each of the blocks and then fit them into the frame one by one.
Dry fit
Once the glue up was complete and clamps were in place.  I used saw dust and the excess glue from squeeze out to fill any holes or cracks.  I allowed the glue to setup overnight before removing the cutting board for the clamps and frame.  The wax paper worked great.
Next it was time to start planing.  I used my #7 Lie Nielsen jointer plane, yes I know that it is probably a little big but I wanted to make sure I kept the top nice a flat.  The plane made fairly quick work, even on the end grain.  Once I had the block planed down I realized the faults of my method of building.  Because I glued up the entire block at once and the glue line hid the intersecting joints, I didn’t realize that the intersecting joints did not line up perfectly.  My wife said that it was fine and know one would notice, so I continued on by routing the edges and finish sanding.
Glue up complete

We left the next morning heading to my dads in North Carolina, but the entire trip I kept thinking about how disappointed I was with the cutting board.  By the end of the 3 1/2 hour drive I had decided that I had to fix it.  I went straight to dad’s shop and started working.  Since none of the joints were off more than the width of a table saw blade the fix seemed pretty simple.  Just rip each joint length wise of the cutting board splitting each joint.  Then reglue the joints with a now perfect fit.  I repeated this on the width after the glue had set.


The end result was perfect fitting corners and I was surprised at how little sanding was necessary to get the joints cleaned back up.  Making sure the top was even and flat paid off since there were no dips to contend with.  Just need to put a few coats of mineral oil and it should be ready to use.

My dad and his new wife were very happy with the cutting board and so was I.  The only problem is that my wife now wants 3 more built for other members of the family as Christmas presents.  This time I will use the same method Marc uses and things should go a little better.


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8 Responses to “End Grain Cutting Board”

  1. December 19, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Nicely done Chris. Definitely looks tricky to get all those blocks glued up in time but you pulled it off. Looks great. I am sure your dad will cherish it!

    • highrockww
      December 19, 2011 at 3:10 am #

      Thanks Marc. I am just finishing up 8 cutting boards the same style as yours and must say that it was much easier.

      I will be back up at Dads over Christmas and will get a better picture to replace the one on here. I will also, add a coat of mineral oil and wax while I am there. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Joe
    December 8, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    Nice, thanks for the link. I will say that I think that your method will work better for me since I am trying to do a specific design and most rows don't have a repeated pattern. Although it is supposed to be a surprise to my students (I teach wood shop) I am trying to make a cutting board rendition of the 1987 NES Mario. I'll be using maple, walnut, alder, and I think I will acquire some padouk for my last color. It should be pretty cool when done…

  3. Chris Adkins
    December 8, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    Take a look at Marc's video on his end grain cutting board here http://thewoodwhisperer.com/butcher-block-cutting-board/ Let me know what you think but I believe you will find it a much better method.

    I did not have an issue but had to work very fast. But honestly the method was not the best in the first place. I will be making a few more probably this weekend and will do a post on how I do these that will show a lot better method.

  4. Anonymous
    December 8, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    What is the method Marc uses? I wanted to make a cutting board similar to this and was trying to figure out the best method for clamping. I did a sample run yesterday of just doing a line, figuring I could put them together in the end, but although it was mostly even, I think doing the whole thing at once like you did would be best. Did you have any problems with the glue drying too fast on your pieces you laid first?

  5. Chris Adkins
    November 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    It turned out well after a little cleaning up. I know most would not notice but it would drive me crazy every time I used it at his house.

    Personally I would have used a salad bowl finish (or polly for that matter but we will not get into that debate right now) but dad wanted to just use oil. I wish I had time while I was up to apply the finish but time just ran out. Mineral oil is probably the best as it is not organic based.

    I will try and get a picture once a few coats are applied.

  6. bakins
    November 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    The board looks sweet. It's horrible when things don't line up. Even if they don't see it, we do. What kind of oil are you putting on it?


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