Cutting Boards "USEFUL SIZE" end-grain , Sapele, Walnut, Yellowheart, Redheart, and Maple 5.0

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Project by Jamie McDonald posted 03-14-2015 05:55 PM 3915 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since I enjoy cooking so much, it makes sense to have good knives… and even better cutting boards to maximize the useful life of the knives. It is my belief, that there is nothing better than an end-grain cutting board. I started with the Spagnuolo style and then modified the arrangement and total number of sizes to my own liking. I really like what I have come up with. Some of the other cutting boards I’ve made have been too thick, too large, or too small.

My wife, Anna, has helped me fine tune the overall thickness and size of these boards to be what we call “USEFUL” sizes. If a cutting board stays in the cabinet and doesn’t get used because it is too large, too small, or too heavy… then in our minds it is a waste of time and material. These sizes are light enough to enjoy using.

All are .78” thick as measured by my digital dial calipers. The Smallest size is 12.5” x 9” (6 ribs), the Medium size is 12.5” x 11.5” (8 ribs), and the Large size is 12.5” x 17.75” (12 ribs). I like the rib sizes because they are proportionally larger than the previous smaller size. I also intentionally put the curve in the smaller board…it does have a specific shape and purpose.

I built these to sell in gift shops. I do believe that it is necessary to have more than 1 cutting board in a well equiped kitchen AND that these 3 sizes compliment each other very well… each size will see significant use.

I personally don’t like juice grooves, but some people do… so juice grooves are only on one side of the boards. I prefer a flat board with no groove so I can cleanly sweep vegetables straight into a stock pot or frying pan with the backside of my knife. The smallest size also has NO juice groove on either side.

The “bright contrasting” board is Maple, Sapele, and yellow heart, and the more “muted” board is Walnut, Sapele, and Redheart. The Redheart does make a noticeable “pop” of contrast from the Sapele and Walnut but does not over-power the intentionally muted tone. All the wood was between quartersawn and rift sawn prior to gluing and slicing.

I have a strong preference for end grain cutting boards. End grain is extra tough while being somewhat self-repairing.

I thinned some General Finishes Salad Bowl finish to roughly 60% finish and 40% mineral spirits. I kept applying finish until it soaked all the way through and started bleeding out the other side…and then I flipped and repeated the process. I’m expecting that these boards will stay dimensionally stable and flat for their life of service. George’s Clubhouse wax is used to keep the cutting boards protected.

-- "The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides!" --Artur Schnabel

5 comments so far

View JimRochester's profile


575 posts in 2692 days

#1 posted 03-14-2015 08:51 PM

Jamie; I’m on board just about everything you said. Those are very good looking. I like the designs. I’ve had different chefs tell me similar; that they like it large enough to push stuff off to the side, but small enough to lift with one hand and slide the food into the pot. I make most of mine are without the groove, but some have it.

For people who love to cook end grain will certainly hold up better, however for many who just use one occasionally, flat or long grain is fine. I once had a lady like one of my boards but was concerned it wasn’t end grain. I found out it was for her 86 year old mother. I assured her it would be just fine. It’ll outlast mom easily.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4766 days

#2 posted 03-15-2015 02:03 AM

If I was in the market to purchase a cutting board, I would bypass the “muted” boards in favor of the “bright contrast” board every time. If you plan on selling your boards to the public, you might want to make a few samples to see which ones sell the fastest and ditch the rest. JMHO : )
Best wishes.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Jamie McDonald's profile

Jamie McDonald

187 posts in 3359 days

#3 posted 03-15-2015 12:19 PM

Thanks for the comments guys.

Jim thanks for the chef confirming feedback on sizes, and after looking at some of the boards you have made I’m inspired to make a few edge grain boards now also. I really like your bread boards too; do you have a rough dimmension for those that you stick to? Do you have a preference for 1 or 2 sided boards? With or without rubber feet?

Dusty56… good thoughts. I plan on making a few batches with different combinations and all of which will be the same sizes. Like you I want to make what sells.

-- "The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides!" --Artur Schnabel

View JimRochester's profile


575 posts in 2692 days

#4 posted 03-15-2015 12:39 PM

The breadboards are 15” x 5”. Any of those thinner boards I intend to be 2 sided. Occasionally when final planing or sanding something unsightly pops up and makes it a one sided board. The other problem is when cutting the handles. I use a forstner bit and sometimes I get big tearout even with support. You can only make the board so thin, so I’ll fix it best I can and make it a one sided board. I never put feet on those because they really aren’t meant for production. They are more decorative and for quick uses. Although it would be easy to put on those little stick on bumpers if someone wanted them.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View Steve Littlewood's profile

Steve Littlewood

8 posts in 75 days

#5 posted 02-24-2021 05:23 AM

Great – sensible sizes! And beautiful too. Just starting to do wood work, currently making my first cutting boards and while I admire big/thick end grain boards for the “curb appeal”, seems like for ease of use for me and wife (and family, friends), about 1 inch seems plenty thick unless it’s going to stay in one place all its life (like a commercial kitchen perhaps). Love the subdued shades, my preference, and also light wood will show scars earlier … scars are fine, well loved/well used, but darker will show those deep cuts less.
Your note is specific about 40% mineral spirits, I didnt know mineral spirits (in this quantity soaked all the way through) was safe to use in food-implements, wouldn’t that take forever to evaporate, strong odor forever, maybe flavor too? I’m assuming you did not mean mineral oil.
Also – does that much liquid soaking into the wood ever cause wood to swell and split? As I’ve been watching mineral oil soak into my boards and then leak out for days, I began to wonder if there is such a thing as too much.

-- Steve LittleWood

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