The Wood Whisperer Style End Grain Cutting Board

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Project by TimBridge posted 04-05-2014 12:42 AM 2710 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first “finished” project in that it’s the first project that is for use outside the shop.

It is made from maple and oak. I know that oak isn’t the best wood for a cutting board but at the time, I was still only purchasing wood from my local Home Depot and the selection there is: maple, oak, and poplar :(.

Another negative thing about the HD is they only stock 3 quarter wood so I purchased enough to allow me to laminate two pieces them together for 6 quarter wood. I think the original TWW plans calls for 7 or 8 quarter so my final dimensions are slightly smaller but it works just as well! I was a bit nervous that having each “square” in the board be composed of 2 separate pieces (thus causing mismatching in the exposed grain) would make the piece look weird, but I think it came out okay.

I found a cool looking piece of maple with some darker grain running through it so I picked that one and cut it so the end grain would be book-matched once in their final position. I think this is called ‘figuring’ but please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m always looking to learn!

I had a heck of a time flattening this board. I neither have an electric thickness planer yet (it’s on my list but I’m not sure if I want to go with a jointer or planer next and I just got a little 9” bandsaw for really cheap last week so I’ll need to upgrade that eventually as well), nor would I want to run an end grain board through a thickness planer based on the horror stories I’ve read. Apparently, end grain + electric planers = flying wood shards.

What I ended up doing was using my one and only plane, a block plane, to flatten it as well I could and then followed up with 80 grit sandpaper. Unfortunately, my perfectionist attitude got the best of me and I saw that I had some glue marks in between a few joints. I’m not sure what caused them to show in these few locations versus others but I really wanted to get rid of them. To do that, I built a little router jig that let me place the bit ever so slightly lower than the current height of the board and move it across the surface.

However, and I’m not sure if it was the bit I used (3/4” straight), my jig (a quickly thrown together MDF and construction lumber make), or my technique (I did notice that I went ‘backwards’ more than I probably should have), but I ended up having some scratch marks and slight gouging in places on the board. I then decided to just sand it up through the grits from 80, 120, 150, 180, 220 and it took care of most of it. There were a few marks still remaining at this point but I figured “hey, it’s a cutting board. It’s built to get scratched.” Plus, I had already taken about 1/4” to 1/2” of stock off of it through all my planing and sanding. I have since purchased a Diablo mortising bit and I got some better plans to built a router planing jig so I plan on working on a better router surface planing system in the future.

In order to keep the thing food-safe, I opted to finish it up with some Butcher Block Conditioner which is basically Mineral Oil and Beeswax. I decided not to put handles in this one because of its low height.

I think it came out pretty well for my first one and I plan to make a few more for friends and family. I just wish I could find some 7/8 or 8/8 wood around here so I wouldn’t have to waste a day and glue laminating two boards together.

Here are some other pictures:

-- Tim Bridge, Northern NJ,"Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't." Pete Seeger

8 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30566 posts in 3190 days

#1 posted 04-05-2014 01:20 AM

Excellent job Tim.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View TimBridge's profile


36 posts in 2425 days

#2 posted 04-05-2014 01:48 AM

Thanks, Monte! I’m learning a lot and truly enjoying getting into this hobby.

-- Tim Bridge, Northern NJ,"Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't." Pete Seeger

View John's profile


246 posts in 2434 days

#3 posted 04-05-2014 02:12 PM

Nice cutting board. I saw Marc’s video of that cutting board and have been thinking about making one. Keep in mind that you can order lumber online. I have a few times and never have had a problem.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View Patrick Garrett's profile

Patrick Garrett

38 posts in 2596 days

#4 posted 04-05-2014 02:37 PM

Welcome to the cutting board club! I’ve been making a lot of end grain cutting boards lately, and I can sympathize with how much of a pain it is to flatten the boards.

If you eventually get a thickness planer, I’ve been using a trick that gives me pretty good, fast results. At each end of the board glue-up I add a single piece of edge-grain wood. Then once the board is dry, I can run it through the thickness planer taking .005-.015 thick passes, and the edge grain end-pieces keep the end grain from tearing out at the ends.

A couple caveats:

- I use carbide inserts in my planer’s helical cutter head, so they hold up pretty well to the abuse end grain can dish out. I wouldn’t try this technique with straight steel knives.

- Even with good sharp planer blades I sometimes get a stripe down the boards if a cutter gets nicked by a knot, and the best method I’ve found is to work through progressive grits on a belt sander.

That said, people who use drum sanders swear by them!

Just Plane Dusty

-- Makes airplanes by day, planes wood at night <|>

View a1Jim's profile


118136 posts in 4429 days

#5 posted 04-05-2014 02:55 PM

View TimBridge's profile


36 posts in 2425 days

#6 posted 04-05-2014 03:09 PM

@MrSmith670, Thanks. I did see that Bull Forest Products even stocks a TWW Cutting Board Lumber Kit but the shipping prices are a bit prohibitive for me to order online unless I plan on getting a good amount of lumber. I’d love to give it a try though so once I get a few projects lined up and their cutlists all finalized, I will definitely try that route. Have you ever ordered from Bell Forest before?

@JustPlaneDusty, Thanks for the tips! I’ve been watching craigslist for a good “lunchbox” planer. Although I’m not yet sure if I want to get a jointer first, I know I’ll need to get both eventually since they work so synergistically with each other. A benchtop Belt and Drum (more belt) sander is high up on my “To Buy” list as well.

@a1Jim, Thanks!

-- Tim Bridge, Northern NJ,"Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't." Pete Seeger

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4437 days

#7 posted 04-05-2014 07:11 PM

You should be rightly very proud of this piece.I think it is really great, and can only see things getting better all the time .Do please keep the good work going you have an obvious talent for wood and art together which are combined here with your work in this cutting board.I would advise a thicknesser at some stage I have the European type combined what we call a planer thicknesser and such a thing would be a big advantage to you.However they are not cheap and planing by hand is a good way to get going.I wish you well as you have a great future IMHO Alistair PS I like the look of the cake too LOL

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View John's profile


246 posts in 2434 days

#8 posted 04-06-2014 01:20 AM

No Tim, I haven’t used Bell Forest. I think I’m going to try them next. I have used woodworkers source a couple times though. I liked the product, although they kind of get you on the shipping though. I found I have to watch what I order to keep the shipping down.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

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