Cutting Board 101

Seeing as I make a lot of cutting boards, I have found that there is some confusion over what the difference between and End Grain and Edge Grain is.

This is probably easiest explained with a picture.

Edge Grain Cutting Boards are, by the very nature of the wood, decorative and pleasing to look at. Seeing how the face or edge grain interacts with other pieces of wood which lie adjacent to it is a thing to behold. The downside to this is that these boards do not hold up to an extremely sharp knife or repeated use and slicing that a regular cutting board faces in the kitchen. An edge grain cutting board showcase the beauty of the wood they’re made from. They are more resistant to staining and absorbing moisture, edge grain cutting boards have competed with plastic boards for years. The grain pattern puts the material at odds with your very sharp kitchen knives. In order to be more resistant to staining and absorbing moisture, the grain must be closed. Flat grain and face grain (or edge grain) cutting boards, tend to dull blades quicker and show scratched and damage more. A great use for an edge grain cutting board is when you need a board for a straight down motion with a knife, like when cutting off a nice piece of cheese or say, fudge!

End Grain Cutting Boards are like the typical Butcher Block style that are seen in kitchens and used by serious chefs, pro and amateur alike. Picture yourself standing in your favourite wood supply store. If you look at the end of say a 2 x 4, this is, well, end grain. When you cut across these end grains, your knife slides through the connective fibers rather than across them, causing less wear on the cutting board and the knife. End grain cutting boards can quickly recover from scratches because of its absorbing qualities. Unfortunately, this absorbing quality doesn’t end with your kitchen knife as it will also absorb anything with the same ease.  Fortunately all you have to do is maintain your cutting board properly and you, your kids and your grand kids will enjoy this butcher block style of cutting board for many years to come. End grain cutting boards, if properly maintained, will stand the test of time and will take pretty much anything you can throw at it.

For tips on how to care for your cutting board, please see my page on Cutting Board Care.