Cutting board grain

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Forum topic by AGolden posted 11-24-2020 05:00 PM 599 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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98 posts in 310 days

11-24-2020 05:00 PM

Hello all,

Believe it or not i am a woodworker who has never made a cutting board (gasp!).

My friend recently asked me to help him make a traditional German serving board and I wanted to get other’s opinions on grain options and what I am thinking of doing

The way I understand it I could go three ways, edge grain, end grain, or face grain.

Because this is more of a “serving board” than a cutting board and is designed to be relatively thin and won’t see heavy chopping, I was thinking that face grain might be the way to go to minimize the number of thin glue seams and to give some options to emphasize the grain.

I was wondering if there are any particular issues that come up with each of the different types of cutting board arrangements that I mentioned. Let me know, thank you!

5 replies so far

View NickyMac's profile


32 posts in 344 days

#1 posted 11-24-2020 05:39 PM

Are you sure you want to mar your perfect record hahaha

For a serving board, do whatever is pleasing to the design. It will see much less abuse so you are pretty free to use softer woods without too much concern. Soak it in mineral oil and then buff with beeswax or use a similar food grade finish if you want a shine.

edge v. face grain doesn’t really matter in a chopping board as long as the grain is straight. End grain is pretty, but doesn’t make a real practical difference either regarding knife sharpness or durability of the board (SACRILEGE!). End grain does however make a much bigger difference in the board’s susceptibility to water, so make sure to dry it after washing and don’t ever let it sit in a puddle. I like rubber feet on the bottom to keep mine in place and raise them up from the counter.

The biggest thing is to be sure to use a tight-pore wood (maple etc) which will be much easier to keep clean. Porous woods like oak love to pick up bits and grow things.

-- - Nick

View LesB's profile


2798 posts in 4419 days

#2 posted 11-24-2020 06:04 PM

Out of curiosity I had to google “German” serving boards to see what made them German. No particular differences found but all I saw on etsy were either edge or face grain in construction.

You probably already realize that a “hard” wood is important to a functioning “cutting” board but for a serving board it is not as important but as mentioned above stay away from wood with open pores unless you plan to apply a hard top coat which would be OK for a serving board.

I personally do not like putting mineral oil on serving or cutting boards. It never dries or cures the only top coat you can use on is is wax and I would hate to see it leave a stain a nice table cloth. I have had good luck with processed Walnut oil. It cures hard and dry and can be top coated if desired. For serving platters or boards I usually apply a hard top finish like Salad bowl finish from General or Behlens but water based poly would work too.

Regarding grain orientation. For your described purpose the main difference in construction will be in smoothing the surface after assembly. Getting a smooth level surface on end grain can be a difficult and tedious process…even if you have a drum sander. Do not run an end grain board through a planer to get it level and smooth…..You might get away with it but it could also be disastrous.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25757 posts in 4081 days

#3 posted 11-25-2020 01:26 AM

Edge grain and face grain are about the same…long grain. End grain is harder and best used for cutting on but since this is a serving board, long grain would work out just fine. Like Les says, you only want to sand end grain and not plane it to avoid grain tear out ( for your next cutting board!!).

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View therealSteveN's profile


7013 posts in 1550 days

#4 posted 11-25-2020 06:57 AM

Having made and used both face grain boards, and end grain I can say there isn’t really a huge difference in how they wear, cut, or effect the knives being used on them. Some write that it’s a huge difference. All I can say is I cook every day, usually at least 2 meals, so I’ve had ample time to try to see this difference, and can’t say I have.

If possible ask the recipient if they have a preference. Making long grain boards it’s much easier to add curved inlays, and if you want stripes it makes the most sense. If you want patterned then end grain are the ticket.

Now if any chopping is expected then I’m going to suggest only end grain.

-- Think safe, be safe

View AGolden's profile


98 posts in 310 days

#5 posted 12-14-2020 06:07 AM

Update, Here are some of the results

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