7 – How to Make a Butcher Block End Grain Cutting Board

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Butcher Block End Grain Cutting BoardOne of my favorite woodworking projects is a butcher block end-grain cutting board. Im not sure if its the “back to basics” simplicity or just the fact that it is one of the most useful projects a woodworker can make, but something keeps bringing me back for more. A custom cutting board makes a great gift and many woodworkers make them in batches every Holiday Season. And if you are relatively new to woodworking, this is a great project to hone your milling, glue-up and tablesaw skills. I’ll cover the preparation and construction of the board itself, as well as the various finishing options available. I’ll also discuss how to maintain the board and keep it looking fresh for years to come!

Update (9/25/10)
Big Purpleheart and Maple Cutting BoardI never thought when I made this video that so many folks would find the plan useful and make their own. I think its safe to say this is the video that launched a thousand cutting boards! So you may already be very familiar with this design. But what you may not know is the fact that this design came about almost by accident. Once of my first cutting boards was a very large board made of purpleheart and birch (left). It turned out to be far too large for our kitchen. Nicole asked that I cut it down. So instead of just cutting trimming the length and width and calling it a day, I decided to have some fun with it. I sliced it into pieces, flipped the pieces 90 degrees, alternated their direction and glued them back together. The end result is the cutting board you see in this video. Quite a transformation! And I am so glad that so many of you were inspired to make your own, and even make some amazing variations on the concept.

Categories: Finishing, Projects


  1. Stan December 23, 2006

    Nice podcast. Too bad they aren’t a bit longer.

    Speaking of planes, I’d like to see a future show on planes: sharpening and using them to create flat surfaces on something large like a tabletop.

    • Doug December 11, 2012

      Great project Marc. I am making one from some hard wood I had on hand for practice. Plan on buying some hard Maple and Purple Heart soon and building one by your plans. Keep up the videos, they are great.

  2. Doug Hicks December 28, 2006

    Did anybody but me notice that at the end of Marc’s latest show (A Cut Above, Part I) that TheWoodWhisperer.com was misspelled as TheWoodWhsiperer.com and the same mistake was on the e-mail address. Now, if I know Marc, he will blame this on the Missus. I enjoyed the show anyway!

  3. Well, that was actually a test to see who was paying attention. You guys win!! :)


  4. I subscribe to your podcast through iTunes and enjoy them. But …

    The cut you made today on the glued up layers of the cutting board is very dangerous. In every table saw book of safety procedures the tell you never to do this.

    ‘Never cut cross grain against the fence.’ (Try that on Google and see how many hits you get.)

    Having said that, I done it a number of times. I always realize that it is not a safe cut and I brace myself and use a good push stick. The push stick you were using could only be described as ‘weenie’.

    I’ve placed a crude picture here. ( http://www.americankestrel.com.....hstick.jpg ) I make a couple of these a year and usually embed a magnet in the side to that it is easily attached to the table saw. It is usually made out of plywood and I’ve seen guys that make the sacrificial notch so that it is replaceable.

    I can cut one out on the bandsaw in under a minute so I don’t go to that kind of trouble. Drilling and placing the magnet takes a little longer.

    Like you and ‘Norm’ I don’t use a blade guard although if I was making a video I would that was because it is easier for the camera to see the cut. I have a splitter on one table saw and think it is a good idea for ‘rough’ or green wood.

    Thanks for the show.

  5. Hey Richard. I am flattered by your concern for my safety. ;)

    I will address a few of your points though. The general rule about cross-cutting end-grain against the fence stems primarily from the fact that most lumber is much longer than it is wide. So cross-cutting a 6″ wide board that is 36″ long is very dangerous against the fence. In general, you never want to cross-cut anything that is longer than it is wide. But when your end-grain surface is sufficiently wide enough to support the piece through the entire cut, I feel it’s safe enough. As is always the case with safety considerations, if you don’t feel comfortable doing something than find another way.

  6. Charles January 1, 2007

    Great video again.

    Always entertaining. Keep them coming as there are plenty of us that need to see something to know what is going on.

  7. Skee January 3, 2007


    Great episode. I noticed you didn’t mention poly as a choice for the finish. I assume this is because it is completely unsuited for the purpose.

    Nice plug for Matt’s Basement Workshop – I have really enjoyed Matt’s content over the past year.

    Thanks again for all the effort you put into this – they really are fun to watch.

  8. Marc,

    I enjoyed this episode. Keep up your positive attitude – it makes a difference.

    And thanks for the nice words about Matt’s BW and our LumberJocks.com

  9. I just found this podcast from some woodworking forum and went through all the episodes in a few days. Great fun to watch and I really like the cutting boards.

  10. Kiff January 4, 2007

    Just want to second the “pro-others” approach to your stuff here, Marc. Mention of Matt’s podcast actually turned me on to a resource I’d not yet taken the time to look for, and now am the better for. I’m really starting to digg (hint, hint, everyone) your style and just want to thank you again.


  11. DIGG. haha I get it! :)

    I guess one of these days I should mention Digg and Podcast Alley. Couldn’t hurt right?

  12. CZ January 6, 2007

    Hey Paul,

    I’m assuming that you treat both sides of the board as well as the edges. Any specific advice on how to do that?


  13. Johan January 6, 2007

    Hi Marc,
    I also want to know like CZ if you finish both sides, and also, I don’t have the Salad Bowl varnish. Can you use mineral oil now, and in a month or so refinish with Salad Bowl Varnish?

    Love your site, humor, tips, and I’ll have to find out about digging…


  14. Hey guys. I do indeed treat all surfaces of the board. I didn’t necessarily show that in the video due to time considerations. But all surfaces are treated exactly the same with the same number of varnish coats.
    You can use mineral oil first. Just make sure the finish has plenty of time to cure before applying the varnish. And before applying the new finish, I would give the whole board a nice wipe-down with lacquer thinner or denatured alcohol to remove any surface oil. Once it flashes off, you can apply your salad bowl varnish.

    Good luck!


  15. Peter (http://) February 12, 2007


    Wow! Love the site and I am working my way through all of the podcasts while my six week old son is napping…

    A couple of quick questions regarding this cutting board episode:

    1.) I noticed that you cut the board on the table saw with the fence up against the slice you were taking out. I don’t own a table saw yet, but I thought that was a no-no. I also noticed that you had a wood block running the length of your fence. What for?

    2.) You answered someone question about recoating all sides of the board, but I was wondering if you had to wait for the top side to cure/dry befor flipping it over to apply the finish to the underside? Or is there a trick that lets you save a few days…

    I can’t tell you how great I think your podcasts are! Keep up the great work!



    Hey Peter. Well first off, congrats on the mini-woodworker! Getting any sleep lately? :)

    1- I agree that that type of cut is not ideal. But in cases where you need a consistent sized cut, it just makes more sense to do it that way. And with some experience and the right push sticks, that cut is relatively safe. I would not recommend doing that as your first cut on a tablesaw, but once you are comfortable with the machine, you should be in good shape to try it. Just be sure to use a good push stick.

    2- You would need to let the board dry before coating the other side. That is, unless you come up with a system that lets the board breathe while it dries. One way to do this is to take a piece of scrap ply and put a few nails into it. Then you can coat the whole board and lay it with the bottom resting on the nail heads. The nail heads might put a slight blemish in the finished surface, but its nothing that a light sanding wont take care of. And if you use a little finish nail. you shouldnt see anything at all.

    Hope that helps Peter. Good luck with your woodworking!!

    • Curt May 10, 2012

      Back on 2/12/07 you said “2- You would need to let the board dry before coating the other side. That is, unless you come up with a system that lets the board breathe while it dries. One way to do this is to take a piece of scrap ply and put a few nails into it. Then you can coat the whole board and lay it with the bottom resting on the nail heads. The nail heads might put a slight blemish in the finished surface, but its nothing that a light sanding wont take care of. And if you use a little finish nail. you shouldn’t see anything at all.”

      Would using micro-nail work instead of finishing nails or would they cause scratches?


        It might scratch if the piece moves and depending on the wood, it might even create a dent. Ultimately, if you do this technique and you always place the bottom of the piece on the nails, you don’t have to worry about it since you’ll never see any blemishes that develop. Its not really a great technique for a show surface unfortunately.

  17. Kenneth Poirier February 16, 2007


    By vocation I am a consultant in Regulatory Toxicology and by avocation a serious woodworker. Your comments about the toxicity of various finishes were right on the money and I wont get into an elaborate discussion here except to say “the dose makes the poison” and when using non-approved (FDA) finishes that holds true. I would have no issue personally using food contact items that have been finished with any type of polymerizing (or cured) finish. However, any woodworker who either gifts, donates or sells these products should consider the potential legal ramifications of using a non-approved finish. For this reason I would strongly encourage that these products be finished with FDA complient products such as mineral oil, Salad Bowl Finish or other natural oils.

  18. John Rezz (http://) March 18, 2007


    I found a huge piece of purpleheart at woodcraft in Loveland CO. for less per board foot than oak…. in other words my cheap ass bought it. I decided to make one of your cutting boards since I have a huge stockpile of maple at the house….

    So you perform a sneaky little trick in your podcast :) You changed from one glue up pattern to another after you make your 1 1/4 cross cuts, no big deal I just could not figure out what was differetn beteween mine and yours. I will make the next one with the 3/4 cuts inside…

    Thanks for the project… I have made several cutting boards in the past but I really like the contrast between the purpleheart and the maple….

    Keep up the good work and I hope to see you on TV soon…


    • Jared December 11, 2012

      Very clever trick photography Marc! After working on my first one of these last night and getting to the smoothing step after initial glue up I decided to take another look at the video to make sure I was on the right track. Imagine my panic when I see in the beginning of the video that you started with the 2-1/4″ pieces then went to the 3/4″ pieces toward the outside of the board. But at the stage to expose the endgrain the pattern switches to the 3/4″ pieces being in the middle (which is how I set it up). Both patterns turn out great, but I freaked a little bit when I thought I did it wrong!

  19. Karl B May 5, 2007

    My wife and I love your Cutting Board Vid, especially the “….cuttinnnnnnnnng boarrrrrrd” part. The phrase is repeated many times a week around our house.

    Thanks for the awsome episode and keep up that sense of humor.


  20. Tutu Saad August 24, 2007

    Dear Marc,

    I am from Bangladesh. Can you give me the basic formulation of Salad Bawl Finish. Can you tell me is mustard ( brown) oil FDA complient for wooden utensils like cutlary, serving plates etc?



    Hi Tutu. Most salad bowl finish in the US is just varnish. As for mustard oil, I never even heard of it. From what I can see though it seems to be a kitchen oil. Most oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, and oilive oil will go rancid on a cutting board. So please, do your research on mustard oil before applying it to the board.

  22. Marc, I just ordered the wood so I can get cracking on a couple of these cutting boards. I’ve only just bought a table saw so I think that this will be a great second project (the first was a birdhouse. :-) )

    Thanks for putting this podcast together. I’ve watched this particular episode many times dreaming about the day I’ll FINALLY get the stuff together to give it a try.


  23. Jerry Marshall October 31, 2007

    Hey Marc,
    I really enjoy your podcasts–they’re lots of fun to watch. Regarding the cutting boards, it’s important to get the first lamination dead level. I don’t have a drum sander, and when I flip the 1 1/4″ strips over on their side and swap ends on every other strip, things get a little gappy. I could throw a cat through some of those gaps. All I know to do is to go back to the table saw and shave each side of the strips. Then, when I line up the strips, they’re gap-free, and we’re good to go on the last glue-up. Love the podcasts–keep “em coming!

  24. Jerry Marshall November 7, 2007

    I’ve tried to level the surface of the first glue-up by sanding it with 80 grit on my random orbit sander and my belt sander. Bad idea. It looks good, but when I cut the board into 1 1/4″ strips and alternate them for the second glue up, things tend to get a little gappy between the strips. to the point that I could throw a cat through some of the gaps. So I go back to the table saw and shave the strips on bothe sides to achieve a perfect fit. After I do this, everything lines up dead on. I suppose I could avoid all of this by using my planer, but it seems awfully abusive to the machine and makes a heck of a racket. It scorches the wood too
    Love the Podcasts–they’re lots of fun. Keep “em coming!

  25. Troy November 9, 2007

    Thanks Marc. I love the design and simplicity. I instantly knew this would be a great holiday gift. I made two, cause initially, I was supposed to make one for my M-i-L, but I let the LOML see it and she took ownership of the first one. So, I made two. My wife said quote “Mom will wet her pants when she she sees this.” Apparently, the other two gifts for the other fair-gendered family members are going to freak when they see it and they don’t get one yet.
    It’s all part of the master plan. They are getting one next year.
    BTW, I am going to need you to come up with another fantastic holiday gift within the next few months please.


  26. Steve November 26, 2007

    Marc — A friend of mine tells me that he thinks plastic cutting boards are less likely to harbor microbes than wood. I’ve read dozens of articles that address this issue but have found nothing definitive. I KNOW that you have an opinion about this… and I think I can guess what you will say. Anyone who is concerned about milk carton safety definitely has an opinion on cutting boards. A reply from a microbiologist will definitely help settle the argument. Thanks!


    Well Steve. If you do a little digging you will find numerous articles with conflicting claims. Some say plastic is more sanitary and some say wood is. The claim for wood is that it has a natural anti-microbial properties not found in plastic.
    So what do I believe? I believe that bacteria will grow on anything that is not kept clean or properly cared for. I sanitize my boards with a little white vinegar and some folks like to rub salt on the surface. And I never cut meat on my boards. I know it sounds crazy, but I reserve my fine boards for vegetables only. The meat is cut on plastic. And the primary reason is because I can spray that sucker with bleach and throw it in the dishwasher if I want to. Thats the safest bet as far as Im concerned.
    Unfortunately I have never done any testing and Im not sure what to believe from the conflicting studies I’ve read. So the best bet is to have safe practices and good habits.

  28. Kent Follmer November 29, 2007

    I am sorry Marc, there is just something NOT right about the Wood Whisperer cutting anything on plastic. I can understand keeping one a really nice board from being damaged by heavy use in order to keep it looking new, but can’t you find an old (wood) end grain board to cut on? I have read enough on the plastic v. wood debate to conclude, Wood Wins. Wood always wins. I am sure you can figure out a way to clean a wood board after cutting meat. Don’t you think so WW?

    Kent Follmer
    Champaign IL

  29. Kent Follmer December 3, 2007

    I apologize Marc for my previous post above. After reading it again, I see now it may have been inappropriate. I enjoyed watching you throw the plastic board over your shoulder in your video and I was surprised to hear that you use one for meat.

    Here is an article written by an unbiased Phd that did an in deptch study on the subject.


    This article concludes as follows:

    In addition to our laboratory research on this subject, we learned after arriving in California in June of 1995 that a case-control study of sporadic salmonellosis had been done in this region and included cutting boards among many risk factors assessed (Kass, P.H., et al., Disease determinants of sporadic salmonellosis in four northern California counties: a case control study of older children and adults. Ann. Epidemiol. 2:683-696, 1992.). The project had been conducted before our work began. It revealed that those using wooden cutting boards in their home kitchens were less than half as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (odds ratio 0.42, 95% confidence interval 0.22-0.81), those using synthetic (plastic or glass) cutting boards were about twice as likely as average to contract salmonellosis (O.R. 1.99, C.I. 1.03-3.85); and the effect of cleaning the board regularly after preparing meat on it was not statistically significant (O.R. 1.20, C.I. 0.54-2.68). We know of no similar research that has been done anywhere, so we regard it as the best epidemiological evidence available to date that wooden cutting boards are not a hazard to human health, but plastic cutting boards may be

  30. Kent Follmer December 20, 2007

    a knowledgable work worker recently wrote in a post:

    After the legislators declared wood cutting boards unsafe, and required all commercial joints to switch to plastic cutting boards, a University did a study of bacteria on used cutting boards. The found the plastic boards were very unsafe… that the tiny scratches left by the knives were a great incubator for bacteria. The old fashioned wood cutting boards were practically germ free. When I read the study they had not (yet) proved their theory that the moist wood expanded to squeeze the moisture out of the scratches, then dried, killing the bacteria. Whatever the mechanism, the wooden boards were safe, and the plastic boards not only dulled the knives (making them dangerous) but they contaminated the food.

    I no longer use my plastic cutting board. I enjoy my wood prep counter and my wooden cutting boards (occasionally treated with mineral oil, or previously with vegetable oil).

  31. Mapleman March 20, 2008

    Great videos … I was just given an unfinished cutting board as a gift and was wondering the best way to finish it … Now I know!

    BTW, a great little extra for this board would be a groove about a 1/4″ inside from the top edge to collect the juices from a juicy roast.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

  32. Marc,
    The layout of the strips in your initial glue up does not
    jibe with the results shown during the second glue up.
    I had to go back and look carefully at what was really
    going on, you sly devil.



    Yea I actually made several variations of the board that week just for the heck of it. Good thing the board looks ok either way. ;)

  34. Very nice. I am still in the middle of the job, bit it is looking really good.
    Have you designed any small trash boxes for the kitchen?
    I’m new to wood working and having a blast!


  35. Cliff December 9, 2008

    I have tried to make your end grain cutting board but I do not have a table saw, and cutting the boards by hand has proved to be tricky. I instead made some I guess you would say long grain cutting boards, but I have a hard time getting them level…as I do not have a planner what would you suggest I do. Thanks for the time.


    Hey Cliff. To flatten a big board like that, either use a bench plane, or you can try the router sled method. The concept is depicted here: http://www.woodworking.org/Inf.....php?t=8904

    And all you need is a router and some wood to do it.

    • Allthunbs October 30, 2010


      You refer to a router sled, above, to use to flatten a board. A sled will not do the job adequately, instead, use a pair of skis or a pivot frame. You could use a saddle but that is a lot of work when a pair of skis can do the job better and faster.

  37. If the finger cut out is only 1/2″ deep, how do you get the 1/8″ roundover bit in without hitting on the bearing bolt of the bit?


      Hey Shane. I imagine it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but I was able to just barely get the bit in there. If you know you want to ease the edge with the 1/8″ bit, its probably best to measure the bit first to make sure you have enough clearance. Or just round over by hand. Its not much area so it would only take a few min. with some sandpaper.

  38. Disaster!
    I am building 5 of these at a time for christmas.
    They look awesome but it got cold here last night and they warped before I could finish them.
    I ran one of them through my planer very gently and it helped but I am afraid of tearing them up.

  39. Can I wet the board to straighten it?

  40. Tony January 3, 2009

    Hi Marc,

    Great information on building a cutting board and finishing it.

    I’ve made a small endgrain board that I’m looking to use as a cheese server. Made out of pine with very good patterns. Previously I’ve simply oiled my cutting boards as you describe. I’d like to use the varnish finish but I’m not sure if it will bring out the grain like the oil finish does.

    I’ve also considered just giving it a light oiling and then varnishing it.

    Can you please suggest the best way to go?



      Hey Tony. A few things. In general, most people report that the varnish does a better job of bringing out the beauty of the wood than the oil alone. The oil has a tendency to make the surface look a little dull and lifeless. I am assuming we are talking about mineral oil here. Now I would NOT recommend coating with mineral oil, followed by varnish. Remember that mineral oil never cures. So if you topcoat with varnish, the varnish will have problems curing. So either go oil, or go varnish, but don’t combine them.

      And jut to reiterate, this method is intended for endgrain boards. So if your boards are long grain, you might just want to stick with the oil.

      Hope that helps. Feel free to email me if you need further clarification.

  41. Tony January 4, 2009

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for the quick response.

    Yes, I’m talking endgrain boards. From your advice I’ll just varnish this small one and see how it looks.

    I have another (larger) board I did earlier (my first attempt) which I’ve already oiled. I had considered varnishing it for additional protection, but from your comments sounds like I should just leave it oiled, or may be add a coat of beeswax.


    • Tony January 5, 2009

      Hi Marc,

      One other thing. Am I correct in assuming you use Satin rather than Gloss varnish? My thinking is that a Satin finish normally hides knife marks better than a Gloss finish.



        Actually, I only use gloss on my boards. I guess in my head I am trying to get the “purest” finish possible on there. And since you aren’t building a film, there really shouldn’t be a visible difference between satin and gloss.

  42. Dave February 17, 2009

    Hi Marc,

    Im kind of new to wooodworking … i had been wanting to try making a cutting board and stumbled over here and love your site. Just have a finishing question (yes, yet another lol! … and no i wont repeat anything asked before). I have read in several places that tung oil in its pure form is non-toxic. When applied properly (several coats) it binds with wood and makes the surface completely waterproof. Is this true ?


      I must admit that I have never applied enough tung oil to a piece to determine just how water-proof the finish can be. But, I have read the same thing many times. So I would say its certainly worth a shot. The fact that tung oil actually dries, gives it a few bonus points over mineral oil. And as long as the material truly is labeled PURE tung oil, you should be ok. In fact, I think I may try this on a future cutting board.

      • Dave February 18, 2009

        Ill probably end up trying tung oil too on the cutting board too. Just a note on my past experiences with 100% tung oil. I tried the old masters after reading some review about it … the finish looked great but it had some voc associated with it, which it shouldnt if it was pure. I tried woodcraft tung oil it seems like its just pure oil. You still need to thin it to apply it well but, atleast you know what you are putting in it.

  43. anthony February 22, 2009

    Hello, I just found your site. I am new to woodworking within the past year, and have decided that since I do not have access to a lot of formal instruction, I will concentrate mostly on hand tools.

    I just wanted to say that I have watched a lot of online videos over the past 6 months and yours is one of the most well done and informative that I have seen. I realize it is a simple project, but for a beginner it was quite clear. It was also great that you pointed out that hand sanding would work for the breadboard. and to top it all off, unlike a lot of other videos that give instructions using material that is impossible to locate, you link to a source for materials. Perfect! Thanks for the great video. I have seen these cutting boards on sale for over $100. After I make one for my wife, who knows maybe I can sell a few. Thanks again!!

  44. Adam March 19, 2009

    Hi. I just stumbled across part 1 of your Cutting Board project, a few days ago. Then I decided to check out your site. WOW!!!

    I just wanted to say THANKS!! As a newbee, it’s great to have a resource like this available. It seems that woodworking is an art that’s generally handed down or pretty much learned by others. It’s hard for a new-comer to figure out the best techniques or even how to use certain tools. And as woodworking is not an inexpensive hobby, it’s hard to know what tools to invest in first, (I still don’t know what kind of table or miter saw to buy) and the salesmen will tell/sell you ANYTHING. I’m sure that this site will provide me with lots of ideas and info.

    I’m also really impressed by the video. Not only is it a great project, the instructions seem really easy to follow. I’m sure mine will turn out great. That is, once I buy some tools. Oh… and once I find the second part. :-)

    Keep up the good work!

  45. John Hammett March 22, 2009

    I finially got around to making the cutting board and the instuctions were perfect. However, you need to really punch on the thickest after the first cutting. I watch the video three times to find out that the glued board should be 1 5/8″. Other then that, I haven’t had a problem yet. The finial glue up is drying now. I’ll tell you more after I finish it up.
    Thanks, I really have learned a lot with your help…
    John Hammett
    Baker City, OR.

  46. Mitch Howard May 29, 2009

    Hello Marc,

    Your podcasts are thoroughly entertaining and informative. I was wondering if you have useful tips for creating a marquetry type inlay in tabletops etc. I am making a series of pieces for my each of my siblings and parents, and wish to inlay the a signature design…something to remember me by. I have a rather nasty blood cancer that carries with it a rather daunting survival curve, so I’d like to get started soon.

    I’m no stranger to the shop, but have never tried my hand at inlay before. The intro to your podcast features what looks like a small table with a leaf and stem design, it is a simpler version of this type of inlay I’d like to try.

    Love your work, keep it up!


  47. S. Baum June 23, 2009

    I can’t wait to try my hand at crafting one of these puppies! This looks like a project even a cave man could do.

    I’m a professional cello player by trade. So I’m partial to hand tools for a couple of reasons: 1. They were good enough for Stradivari; and 2. I’m more likely to keep all my fingers.

    Which brings me to my question. What’s the “hand tool” of the 17th/18th centuries that I would need in lieu of a table saw? A hand saw doesn’t seem like it would cut it, so to speak. Or would it, with enough practice?

      thewoodwhisperer June 23, 2009

      A hand saw would indeed be the tool of choice. Makes ya really respect what our forefathers were able to accomplish doesn’t it?

      • S. Baum June 24, 2009

        Marc. Not that I doubt the master. But we’re brainstorming here, right? Jerry’s reference above to cats and gaps continues to cause me pause… What about a hand miter saw? I confess I don’t have a clue what it does, but from the looks of it, a straight, accurate cut seems more likely than “freehanding” with a hand saw. Is the cutting board too big for it? If so, do you suppose one could jury-rig a suitable facsimile? Failing all that, can a body rent time on a table saw somewehere? :-)

          thewoodwhisperer June 24, 2009

          A miter box would certainly give you a more controlled cut. But it is really intended for cross-cuts. For this project, you will still need to do a lot of ripping, which would exceed the capacity of any miter box. I would imagine to do this all with hand tools, you are going to need to do your best to cut to a line, then clean everything up with some hand planes.

          And the easiest answer is to make a few friends. Never hurts to have a buddy with a tablesaw! lol

  48. Scott June 26, 2009


    Curious if you wipe off the excess finish after each coat. That is, you put it on for 3-4 minutes, then wait a minute or two, then wipe down the board. It seems like you simply apply the finish and let it dry, but that would also seem to build up a film.

    Great website!


  49. william June 26, 2009

    hey Marc im just starting out playing with wood and since i cant find any part time schools for this im going to try to learn everything off of your shows. im going to start with those awesome end grain cutting boards and ill do a couple of them to get a good hang of it, then ill give them out to friends. but i need a little advice. what other type of wood combination can i use on a cutting board? id like to be diverse and creative with the colors and patterns. so if you have any suggestions also on different cutting patterns that would be cool too. i was thinking of using walnut, and cherry wood just off the top of my head, but i dont know if theyr are tight grain and hard. thanks so much Marc appreciate all your hard work im learning so much.

      thewoodwhisperer June 26, 2009

      Hey William. I am glad to hear you are getting into woodworking. Its pretty addictive so watch out. :) And be sure to take advantage of all the great resources we have available to us on the web. My site offers just one perspective, and there are many approaches to the craft.

      Now on to your question. When it comes to cutting board, most times its better to play it safe. While I’ve seen lots of different woods used in cutting boards (including exotics), I usually try to keep it as simple as possible. I’ve been using purpleheart for a while now and feel its just as safe as maple. But many other exotics have a good amount of natural oil in them. Personally, I am concerned about what else might be in that oil. So if the wood is oily I don’t use it. Now it is also a good idea to avoid open pored woods like oak, ash and possibly even walnut. But I have seen hundreds of boards using walnut……

      Bottom line is its a gray area. There isn’t a whole lot of info out there so that’s why I like to play it safe. If you are looking to try a colorful wood, do a bunch of research to determine if there is some allergy or toxicity concern. And of course it best to just avoid the odd ball exotics. And as tempting as it is to use this system to make fancy colorful patterns, it might not make the best material for a surface that will be in contact with food.

  50. Jeff August 3, 2009

    Hey there Whisperer,

    I found this website by googling for directions on building an end grain cutting board. I’ve never worked with wood other than framing decks and houses, but this project looks fun and easy enough to take on. Thanks for the video, I know they take a lot more work than people realize. Great job.

  51. Great Video! I need to get the podcast for that also.

    I have the same push stick and really like it. ;-)

    Two questions… You have a link to Bell Forest Products for the material, which is great. Are there other domestic wood that you would recommend? I know Oak is out, but could Cherry or Walnut work? The other question is the cutting board itself. If I made one exactly like it or similar, and sold a few (you know… to make money for more tools), will I get in trouble with you or your lawyers?

    Thank you for sharing your talents!


      thewoodwhisperer August 5, 2009

      Hey Tommy_Joe. I have seen boards made of just about every wood you can imagine. Cherry, walnut, and even oak are common. If I could do the video over again, I would make a quick clarification. The open grain of woods like oak is something that really only presents itself in the face grain. All those little ridges and valleys can harbor bacteria. But on the end grain, well, its end grain. End grain is always porous no matter what species you use. And if you do the varnish sealing method I recommend, a wood like Oak should actually do rather well as a cutting board. But its going to be thirsty so be prepare to give it a good amount of varnish. And woods like cherry and walnut should be ok too. Although some folks avoid walnut because of allergy concerns. Not sure there is any solid proof that this should be a concern though.

      As for using the design, go for it. If you get rich and make millions, then we’ll talk. ;)

      • Thank you for your response! I do have oad scraps in the the shop from other projects, so I can give that a try.

        I have subscribed to your newsletter and podcast info. Making millions would be nice (and we’ll certainly talk then), but I’d settle for having my shop support itself and my small family in a small way. You’re doing what I would like to do, so I’m a bit jealous. (You are in good company with Kevin O’Conner and Norm Abram. :-) ) Keep up the great work!

        Thanks again.


  52. S. Baum August 5, 2009

    Me again. I’m the guy committed to hand tools.

    I just took delivery of some gorgeous wood from Bell Forest. The only problem is, it’s milled to 1-3/4″, not 1-5/8″. I’m not complaining, but I’m also not inclined to try to chisel, scrape or sand that last 1/8 inch off. Plus there’s a good 21 inches of length.

    Waste not, want not. Bigger the better. But being new at this, I don’t want to screw things up blithely changing measurements, especially since I’m not particularly adroit at thinking in three dimensions.

    Can I use the full height and length, and just cut fifteen 1-1/4″ strips (instead of 11) when the time comes, all other things being equal?

      thewoodwhisperer August 6, 2009

      You can, but you will change the final dimensions of the board, making the long dimension even longer. Using thicker material will make all the little squares wider. And using longer strips means you’ll have more rows, again contributing to the board being longer. At some point the board’s proportions are going to start looking odd. So its completely up to you how far to go with it. But the short answer is you can definitely do it.

      If I were in your situation, I would probably be ok with the extra 1/8″ thickness. That would translate to a board that’s 1 3/8″ longer than what’s called for in the plan. Not too bad. Now add a couple extra rows and the board is going to get really long. A little too long for my tastes.

      Hope that helps.

  53. Gary September 5, 2009

    Hey Mark,

    Some folks suggest that wood grain orientation should be the same on large butcher blocks or end-grain counter tops to prevent cracks from developing. For a 12″ X 15″ end-grain board (walnut & maple), is it still necessary to orient the grain the same direction, or will a good glue job hold the pieces tight even if the grain isn’t oriented the same? I will be using a diluted salad bowl finish.


      thewoodwhisperer September 6, 2009

      Well, there are no absolutes here. All I can say is that the smaller the board, the less you need to be concerned about grain orientation. Larger butcher blocks it can be a much bigger issue. For these boards, I usually don’t worry about it and fortunately I haven’t had any issues. Nor have I heard of anyone reporting cracking or splits. But if you can orient the grain uniformly without much trouble, then you should try to. And if you want to go any larger than this board, you should really consider it. Good luck!

  54. Shawn September 6, 2009

    Hey Marc,

    I just made one of your endgrain cutting boards out of hard maple. I was going to make a few more.

    Is it important to align the endgrain for expansion/contraction?

    I didn’t do it on the first one and wonder if that increases the odds of cracking.

    Thanks for the podcasts!


      thewoodwhisperer September 6, 2009

      Hey Shawn. See above.

  55. Willie October 3, 2009

    Hi Marc,
    Was wondering when you thin the salad bowl finish with mineral spirits…(this may sound stupid) but are you talking the kind you pick up at the local building center? Great site!

      thewoodwhisperer October 4, 2009

      You got it. Just regular old mineral spirits.

  56. patrick melchior October 19, 2009


    I am new to wood working and must say that I enjoy your website. I DID in fact make the cutting board, but the question I have is the finish. I have applied 4 or 5 coats of mineral oil and have wiped it all down. I was so proud of the cutting board, it actually looked like the one you made in your pod cast. In fact, once I put the cutting board in the kitchen, my wife wasted no time in putting it to use, I about had a heart attack…I didn’t want her to use it… just look at it in all its beauty. I got over it quick as she sliced through the tomatoes…anyway, after she hand washed the board and let it dry, the surface was rough. I sanded the board up to 320 grit ( smooth like glass) when I made it. Did the water when she washed it raise the end grain? I would think thats normal but was not prepared for the feel of the board after.

    Thank You

    Patrick Melchior

      thewoodwhisperer October 19, 2009

      The first cut is always the worst one Patrick! lol. But an unused board never reaches its true potential. I am glad to hear she wasn’t afraid to dive right in and start cutting!

      In general, the board will go through a lot of surface changes in the first few months. As the board goes from wet to dry to wet to dry…….the grain gets raised and the glue lines become more evident. So usually I wait about 6 months, then I take it back into the shop for a light sanding and refinish. This 6-month wear-in period almost has the same affect as pre-raising the grain before finishing. So that once you clean up this second time, it will stay smoother and the glue lines will be less likely to show up. Now the fact that you are using mineral oil does muddy things up a bit, literally. When you take it back to the shop, you’ll find that your sandpaper gums up pretty quickly. Just do the best you can to sand the surface smooth up to 320. And you don’t necessarily need to get down to bare wood.

      Now since mineral oil still does allow moisture to absorb into the board, you will be more likely to have the roughness return than if you used the varnishing method. But as hard as it is to remind yourself, it is just a cutting surface so a little roughness is to be expected.

      I also would try to avoid adding mineral oil a month or so before bringing it back in the shop. You want the board as “dry” as possible.

      Hope that helps.

      • patrick melchior October 20, 2009

        Thanks for the info Marc. no that the soap box is open I would (wood) lol, like to give you some feedback. I, as well as all the wood workers who follow your website appreciate the fact that you are independent in your opinions, and not a shirt and tie guy, a corporate man. I feel we relate better to you and your opinions. I hope you remain true to your core foundations that got you to where you are today. I understand that you have to make a living, ROCK on!!

        keep up the great work… you and your wife are both hard workers and your funny

        thanks again

        patrick melchior

  57. Cory November 10, 2009

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoy your site and hope you are doing well with it as a business and hobby, I am very jealous, what better job could you have.
    Anyway I just had a possible design change for the cutting board, which I plan to try this holiday season when I make some cutting boards with some local Tucson mesquite. I think it would be more advantageous to use a cove profile router bit to make a rounded groove, maybe 6″ long, centered in the ends of the board as a place for fingers to pick it up. I just didn’t like that if you wanted to use the other side of the board, there was real estate lost to the finger holds. Just a thought, I know it will be a tricky setup to cut but I’ll give it a try.
    Thanks for all of the knowledge and experience you share, I look forward to new videos, they are are great and getting better. Keep up the good work.



  58. jdog November 12, 2009

    what is that adapter you use to attach that router to you dust collection? Is it just a hose with hose clamps on it or something? I need to get an adapter to reduce my 2 1/2 hose down to 1 1/4. Anyone got any ideas? i cant find an adapter.

      thewoodwhisperer November 12, 2009

      Yeah that was actually just a hose coupling off the shelf from Home Depot. If I remember correctly it came with the clamps attached and was in the irrigation area.

  59. Frank November 16, 2009


    I am batching out a bunch of these and variations of them for Christmas presents for different family members. Have you ever heard of a problem with these things as far as wood movement? I don’t want to have to hear everybody complain in a couple of years, although I’m not letting the fear of that stop me from making them now.

      thewoodwhisperer November 16, 2009

      While there could be an occasional “disaster board”, I have yet to experience one myself. And given the number of boards i see being made, I think we would all hear about it if they started moving. So just from my observations, the boards are pretty darn stable. Batch away!

  60. Tricia Fields November 19, 2009

    I was excited a few months ago to find a wood working site with projects to help a new woodworker, but that still produce a beautiful piece. I just finished my first cutting board and it turned out beautifully. I have two more planned for Christmas presents. My brother, a carpenter, couldn’t figure out the pattern, and had never seen the end grain used that way. He’s experimenting with end grain now too. I admit, as a new woodworker, the board foot specs were confusing, but I converted everyting to linear feet and it worked great. Thanks for a great site!

  61. Dan November 23, 2009

    Hi Marc,

    This is my first post, though I’ve been watching your videos for some time and would like offer you immense thanks for your teachings. I’m in the process of building my first end-grain cuttings boards and need to decide on the finish. My problem is I like the low-maintenance of the salad-bowl finish but the look of the mineral oil. Is there any practicality in one flooding of mineral oil, then drying, then one or two coats of salad-bowl varnish? As of now, I have neither of these products so I am unable to experiment. Any advice you can offer is appreciated, and thank you again for your work.


      thewoodwhisperer November 23, 2009

      Thanks Dan! By adding salad bowl finish at all, you are going to change the look of the cutting board. And every application of the salad bowl finish gets you further away from that mineral oil look. And once you’ve treated the board with the varnish, you negate the need for mineral oil.

      Now I wouldn’t recommend putting the mineral oil on first, simply because mineral oil never dries or cures. It soaks into the wood and eventually wear off the board. But mineral oiled wood always seems to have an oily feel to it and that’s exactly why I don’t like it. So if you were going to try some sort of “hybrid” approach here, I would recommend doing the reverse. I would give the board 1-2 coats of diluted varnish. Set the board on end each time to let it dry and to capture the varnish inside the grain. After two coats, sand the board down nice and smooth. At this point, the wood will probably still take up a very small amount of liquid, but it will be mostly sealed. At that point, apply a very light coat of mineral oil and see what it looks like. Depending on how sealed the wood is, the oil might simply absorb and give you that mineral oil look, or it could just sit on the surface and remain “wet” until it just wears off. I haven’t tried this so I don’t really know.

      Now I do occasionally add mineral oil to my varnished boards if they get all scratched up. The oil makes the scratches a little less visible and extends the time between refinishing. But ultimately, the whole point of using varnish in the board is to avoid maintenance. And applying mineral oil is part of that maintenance that I am trying to avoid. Not sure I’ve helped you here, but that’s my experience so far.

  62. Paul Pugliese November 27, 2009

    Hey Marc- love the end grain cutting board. Wondering if I could use a palm sander or belt sander instead of the random orbital.

      thewoodwhisperer November 27, 2009

      Sure you could. A palm sander might take a long time to get the job done, and the belt sander will take a great deal of control on your part. But…technically….it can be done.

      • Tricia Fields November 29, 2009

        I just finished sanding my third cutting board to give for Christmas presents. I used an orbital sander. It took several hours of sanding but it worked. I started with a 60 grit and could have gone lower. The end grain purpleheart is so hard the wood barely sands. By the time you finally get up to a 320 though the finish is like glass.

  63. taylor fitzgerald November 27, 2009

    hey this video was great, i’ve made 2 of these beautiful cutting boards, using rock maple and other hard woods, the pattern you chose looks really great, send more vids!

  64. Justin Hicks December 9, 2009

    Hey Marc,

    Love the videos and content. I’m make a few of these boards as gifts. I have one question about the finishing process. Before the final coat of finish you lightly sand with 400 grit paper. When I did this and applied the last coat of finsh the sanding lines were visible as there is no “gain” to hide them, and I tried to sand as lightly as possible and only took a few strokes just enough to make the surface smooth.

    Any sanding tricks you can share? Or do you just live with the sanding lines. They really are only obvious when viewed in raking light.


      thewoodwhisperer December 10, 2009

      Well, you could try sanding with 600 grit, so that you make finer scratches. But if your final coat isn’t covering up 400 grit scratches, that tells us you might need to have a bit more varnish in the mix (if there were a piece of furniture). But you want to be careful not to add too much of a film to a cutting board. We aren’t really looking to create a glossy board. And if there is a gloss, it should wear off and become dull rather quickly. So I might even recommend giving the board a few days to cure up, and buffing the surface with 0000 steel wool. That should help give you an even dull scratch pattern.

  65. Dean Peddle December 13, 2009

    I have a question about the finish. I followed your instructions using the salad bowl finish and thinning out with Varsol (mineral spirits) but isn’t mineral spirits poison? Aren’t we taking a non-toxic finish and making it toxic by adding poison? I made 6 of these and gave them away as x-mas gifts (we celebrate early) and one comment was the board stinks….which it does. I don’t know whether it’s the salad bowl finish that stinks or the varsol that I used to thin it with. It’s cured for over 72 hrs. Is it safe to use?

    Also, when you finish…you thin the first coat but you didn’t mention the other 2 coats…I assumed they were all thinned with mineral spirits….correct ?

      thewoodwhisperer December 13, 2009

      Hey Dean. The key is to look at the ingredient list and MSDS for your salad bowl finish. One of the ingredients will be either naptha or mineral spirits. So salad bowl finish is toxic. The important thing to not is that they are non-toxic when cured. So I always give my boards a few weeks to air dry before actually using them. All oil-based finishes will have an odor for quite some time. So after 2-3 weeks, the odor is minimal and I just tell the recipient to give it another week before using it. Then before the first use, give it a good washing in warm soapy water. From that point they are good to go.

      As for the dilution, I do continue to use the diluted solution for each coat.

  66. Justin Brown December 14, 2009

    I’m making cutting boards for Christmas presents based on Marc’s video, and I’ve run into a problem. After the second glue up, I send it through my 13″ electric planer to smooth the surface one last time. When I do this, the planer kicks back, resulting in one end of the cutting board getting chewed up pretty badly and even delaminating.

    Marc doesn’t show this step in the video, so I’m just wondering what I’m doing wrong. Should I be using a different method for planing the surface after the second glue up?

    Oh, and an fyi: The planer works fine after the first glue up… Is it possible that the number of glue joints in the second glue up is causing the kick back?

    Thanks in advance for your help! On a deadline (xmas)…

      thewoodwhisperer December 14, 2009

      Hey Justin. I never run end-grain through the planer. That’s why you didn’t see me do it in the video. I just sanded it after the second glueup. Check out this post and the subsequent comments: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.co.....-the-week/

      • Justin Brown December 14, 2009

        Wow, I didn’t realize it was such a safety issue. Thanks for the quick response and the link!

  67. Ian Fisher January 7, 2010

    Hey Marc thanks for the great cutting board video especially the board pattern! I want to add my experience/observations to the thickness planing end grain scenario. I have done it without incident but I have taken several precautions which I believe attributes to my success. First I want to say I would not want to recommend a potentially hazardous procedure but then we all use a table saws…don’t we??

    Planers were never meant to plane end grain because the planer knives are hitting the wood fibers at a right angle, (kind of like a truck hitting a highway divider). Therefore, to help the knives cut rather than smash, I sharpen my knives before using it on end grain. Secondly,
    I glue sacrificial rails (thicker than the board) to the sides of the board which eliminates the board rocking through the planer(slam!)and as a bonus it eliminates snipe on the board section. Thirdly, take ultra light passes once the knives reach the end grain surface. Take 2 or 3 passes at the same height before lowering the cutterhead. And finally (especially if your second glue-up was sloppy), knock down any high end grain edges with a scraper or plane.
    Best wishes and be safe!!!

  68. Dean Jackson January 27, 2010

    (Thanks for the great videos!)

    Everything on this one looks pretty good, and I made a rock maple and hickory board. Sanded it up to 220, completely smooth. Put Watco Butcher block finish thinned with mineral spirits on this today, and some of the maple has a white splotchy-ish color on it. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/talldean/4310138174)

    Will a second coat help? Did I not sand enough? Would more sanding at this point help, or just ruin things?

      thewoodwhisperer January 27, 2010

      You know, that almost looks like glue stains. Sometimes when you have excess glue, is seeps into the grain and partially seals it. So when you coat with your finish, you see a spot that just doesn’t absorb as much oil and as a result its lighter in color. Hard to tell for sure, but that’s my first guess. But if you sanded the surface thoroughly, its hard to imagine that being the case. Could just be something weird in the wood itself and you could sand forever and never get rid of it. Bottom line is, there shouldn’t be much of a film finish on the board anyway, so it might be best to finish the thing up and get it into use. The spots dont look all that bad to me.

      • Dean Jackson January 28, 2010

        Thanks for the quick reply, hugely appreciated!

  69. Dane March 2, 2010

    Hi Marc

    I have made 3 boards of maple and purpleheart and have been very pleased. I have enough sapele for several boards and was wondering if it would be appropriate to use for a cutting board. I would use maple as the other stock? Love your videos! Thanks in advance.


      thewoodwhisperer March 2, 2010

      Hey Dane. I don’t see any major problems with sapele for an end grain board. But just as a disclaimer, I can’t know for sure what the potential is for allergies/toxicity with these exotics. So do as much research as you can and always use exotics at your own risk. But from my vantage point, I think sapele would be fine.

      • logan dodd March 3, 2014

        hey mark; 3-3-2014
        I can’t figure out all the measurements on your cutting board, the one “cut above”.
        some how i can’t get them to add up. one of the drawings has 14 blocks in it and at 1 5/8″
        that don’t add up to 18″. one of the pictures has 12 blocks and this doesn’t add up either.
        I think you said in the video the wood was 15 1/2″ x various widths x 1 5/8 thick. I have tried
        to figure on this before doing any cutting but some how it doesn’t work out for me.
        CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME? Thanks, Logan


          My suggestion would be to follow the video and the plan and start cutting. It isn’t something that is easy to wrap your brain around until you actually have the pieces in your hands. So this is one of those times where simply starting the project will reveal the answers. I can assure you the numbers are correct. But the workpieces are flipped a few times which causes the thickness to become the width. If you want to be super cautious, get some cardboard and make a small model so you can see how the pieces go together.

  70. Dean J March 7, 2010

    Dumb question.

    I’ve made a few of these boards now, thank you much for the video! The latest board I made has a 1″ long glue joint that missed; something was off, and I can see a hair of daylight through the board at that one spot.

    Is there any way to fill that? It’s not going to be perfect, but I figured it can’t hurt to try and fix it.

      thewoodwhisperer March 7, 2010

      Definitely not a dumb question Dean. If it were my board, I would use epoxy for the fill. But keep in mind that this recommendation comes with a disclaimer. While I personally think epoxy is perfectly safe filling a one inch crack in a cutting board, some may disagree. Ultimately the decision is yours.

      • Dean Jackson March 7, 2010

        Okay, I’ve never worked with epoxy before; any quick suggestions?

        Mix a small amount of epoxy, push into crack, let dry for ??, scrape off excess, let dry overnight, sand?

          thewoodwhisperer March 7, 2010

          Pretty much Dean. Just use any 5-minute epoxy. Place a couple strips of masking tape on each side of the crack, as close as you can get it. Then use a putty knife to drive the epoxy into the crack. Let it dry, then scrape/sand flush.

        • Dean Jackson March 7, 2010

          Okay, the masking tape is a work of genius, or at least, just saved me from making much more of a mess than this needed to be. Thank you!

  71. William Parker March 8, 2010

    Hello MaRC
    The cutting board was a great piece of work. My question is about using other types of exotic hard woods to make difference color cutting boares. I know some exotics are toxic, do you know were I can find a listing of which woods are toxic and should not be used for this application.

    White Plains NY

      thewoodwhisperer March 8, 2010

      Hey William. This is always going to be a subjective call by each individual. Most times, the toxicity comes when dealing with dust getting into your lungs, eyes, or blood stream. In a cutting board, there is little if any ingestion of the actual wood product. But I am also a little leery about the oils secreted by some of these exotics. So in general, I try to avoid them. Purpleheart doesn’t have much in the way of oil, and seems like a decent wood for a cutting board. But that’s the only exotic I have ever included in my boards. And I don’t make any claims that it is completely harmless. But based on the info I have access to, I don’t feel I have anything to be concerned about when using Purpleheart for a cutting board. Here is a wood toxicity chart that may help you make your decision. http://www.woodworkerssource.com/toxicity_list.php

  72. Dean J March 9, 2010

    I feel bad asking so many questions on the simple project, but this has really been a learning experience all around in making a few different boards.

    So, I have some butcher block finish from Watco. It explicitly says “do not thin”. Any idea what that means to me?

      thewoodwhisperer March 9, 2010

      Hey Dean. Many cans of finish will say that. Its just their way of making sure you don’t add more VOC’s to the mixture. As long as you use the right thinner (paint thinner, mineral spirits, naptha, etc), you can thin all day long.

      • Dean J March 9, 2010

        What’s the “wrong thinner” in this case? I’ve just been using odorless mineral spirits, and those seem to work just fine. Any advantage to any of them? Any less toxic or faster drying?

          thewoodwhisperer March 9, 2010

          You are using the right stuff. Ethanol and lacquer thinner, for instance, would be the wrong stuff. Naptha is a little faster drying if that’s what you’re looking for. But its usually more expensive too.

  73. Dave Morrison March 22, 2010

    Hi Marc,

    I am going to make this cutting board and I saw another plan for similar type board and it had rubber bumpers screwed to the bottom. Do you think your cutting board needs them so the cutting board won’t slide around on the counter when trying to cut something? Also, I was thinking of adding a 1/4 inch maybe 3/16 inch deep rabbit on top to collect any juices from my stakes that I plan to cook and cut on the cutting board? Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you…..

      thewoodwhisperer March 22, 2010

      Hey Dave. There is nothing wrong with adding the rubber feet if you want. I never really feel the need to do that and I don’t have a problem with my boards sliding around. If the board winds up warping on you, you could very well add them to help keep the board stable.

      And although I don’t always put a drip edge on mine, they are a great feature to have on a cutting board. Although I would highly recommend using a core-box bit for this, and not a straight bit. Its much easier to clean the juices out of a shallow groove with a rounded bottom.

      Good luck!

  74. Greg April 17, 2010

    Hey Marc,

    I’ve made end grain cutting boards in the past, but now that I’m a Purdue Mechanical Engineering student with access to the machine shop I’ve got a few ideas. I would like to make the board out a wood thats almost black in color. Then I plan on using the CNC machine to add the Purdue “P”, which I will inlay with a lighter colored wood, like maple. My question is what is a good wood to use for the base of the board? Ideally it would almost be black (to match the purdue colors), but as you said it should be closed grain and I want it to be reasonably machinable. Any Ideas?

    • Dean J April 17, 2010

      I’m not the expert, but I’ve made boards with walnut before. It has some issues; the dust is apparently toxic, and the grain is fairly open, but dust mask + sealing the board seems to have covered both of those bases.

        thewoodwhisperer April 17, 2010

        Yeah I think the only reason to really avoid walnut in an end grain cutting board is if you know someone in your family has a severe nut allergy and you are a bit paranoid about it. Better safe than sorry, you know?

        And to answer Greg, I think walnut is about as far as you are going to get with a dark colored wood. Endtrain walnut, when coated with an oil, can be pretty darn dark.

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