An end grain cutting board

This is my 4th cutting board, and I knocked it out in 5 days, 7 if you count the 2 days I let the wood rest. This was a quick project by my standards, but it’s possible to finish even faster. The most time consuming part of making an end grain cutting board is the final flattening. Since it’s end grain, you Cannot (I can’t stress this enough) run it through a typical planer. Thus it pays dividends to make sure the final glue up is as perfect as possible.

In my opinion, there are two ways to safely flatten the board.  The first is with a drum sander,  and the second is with a router sled. The drum sander yields a finished board right off the machine, but it can’t take off much material per pass. Additionally it’s not a tool found in most home shops, but if you have one it’s the best option. A router sled can remove more material per pass, but it yields a finish that requires additional refinement with abrasives. It also make a huge mess, unless you have some extreme dust collection in your shop.

Links of interest:

  1. Marc Spagnuolo’s podcast about making an end grain cutting board.
  2. CBdesigner is a free (love that word) program I use to design boards.

Examples from the video (CBdesigner files):

Posted in: Videos


  • Pete Roulston
    January 5, 2013

    Dan, that was a very interesting and informative clip. I’ve made quite a few cutting boards; however, one is never too old to learn new techniques. I have never thought of using a router sled; instead, I’ve relied on my belt sander – admittedly a very slow process also, to get it right.


    Pete Roulston
    Ontario, Canada

  • Steve
    March 6, 2014

    Hi Dan,

    Great tutorial easy to follow and awesome looking board, I just have a few questions if that’s ok, firstly, why do you segment the Purple heart even when you re-glue some of them back together again?

    Also in your description you say never flatten the board with a planner do you mean a planner thicknesser or hand planner or both, and the reason why you should not flatten this way?

    This is my first woodwork project so I’m pretty excited, sorry for the noobie questions in advance.


    Sydney, Australia

    • March 6, 2014

      Hi Steve,

      I used smaller pieces, because they way I designed the board, all the pieces are the same size. Since the dimensions of the pieces need to be pretty precise, being able to mill all the lumber to the same dimensions is easier.

      You don’t want to run and end grain cutting board over a joiner or through a thickness planer, because if you have a problem it will sound like an explosion. when you plane end-grain you get tear out on the back edge, but with a power tool, the planing action is a lot more violent. if you search the internet you will find stories and images of large blocks of wood breaking off the back of the board. You could get lucky and have no problems other than some miner tear out, or you could severely injure yourself and your machine. The other issue is unless your running carbide insert cutters it’s murder on your blades.

      You can do it by hand, but depending on the size of the board and the hardness of the wood you use, it could be a very difficult task.

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