End grain cutting boards are super sweet. They expose a really interesting looking part of the wood, the “end” of the lumber, which preserves your knives–since the wood fibers are pointing up, you aren’t cutting against the grain (imagine putting a knife through a handful of hard spaghetti sideways vs up and down).
There are a lot of talented woodworkers out there and they were ultimately the biggest source of inspiration for these:
Here’s how I did it.
Choose the wood.
It’s important to select wood that is hard, not too porous and wood that is not toxic. I’ve used maple, cherry and walnut and they’ve made fantastic cutting boards. Stay away from white oak (ask any boat maker… white oak has grains that are hollow like straws… it will sink your ship and will harbor bacteria).
Mixing woods makes the final end grain cutting board all the more beautiful. Woods with differnt colors give the final product contrast, and using different size pieces of wood make the board more unique and less like something you could buy at a store.
Cut the lumber into strips that you will later re-arrange and glue back together. The strips can vary in thickness (actually this is recommended), but should not vary in height. The lengths should be similar but do not have to be exact at this point.
Arrange wood strips to your liking.
Move the wood strips around until they have a nice pattern. Contrast is key here. Remember that as this will be an end-grain cutting board, this stage is not the final arrangement, but is still crucial to having a nice looking cutting board at the end. Place the strips so all of the heights are the same (up and down) and the differing widths are side to side (see pictures):
In the above picture the strips have already been placed in an order that’s interesting to look at, glued together and planed…. soon I will post pictures of this process in action (and maybe even a time-lapse).
Glue strips together.
Once you’ve chosen your placement of the wood strips, you can begin glueing them together. At this point you will want to have your wood on a flat surface and your glue handy. A rag to clean your hand is also handy. Using glue that sets medium-slow can be helpful so you can work at your own pace and have plenty of time to get everything just right. You will also want some clamps. Pipe clamps and wood hand-screw clamps are what I use and they work perfectly, but if you don’t have any you can make your own clamps in a number of ways. Soon I’ll add some pictures of my cutting boards clamped up. I will add some video, including time-lapse as well.
Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you here again! -Chris