End Grain Cutting Boards

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Blog entry by Timothy posted 12-18-2010 12:13 AM 2404 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve made some (7) cutting boards for this year’s Christmas gifts, but I am not completely happy with them. The boards are fairly flat, which I did with my ROS, but I wasn’t able to get rid of some of the glue squeeze out. I think it probably absorbed somewhat in the end grain as these things tend to do. Is anyone else running into these problems? Every board I see on here looks perfect. Of course I know pictures don’t always show a lot. Just haven’t heard very many complaints like mine. One thing I am working on is my patience in life with a strong focus in the woodworking department.

9 comments so far

View stevenmadden's profile


174 posts in 3146 days

#1 posted 12-18-2010 12:36 AM

Hi Timothy,

I am in the process of making several (12) end grain cutting boards myself. I am using Marc’s design from his site, I think the two part video series is titled “A Cut Above”. I scrape the glue squeeze-out with a scraper after waiting about thirty minutes for the glue to stiffen up. This works really well, anything left is easily taken off using 60 or 80 grit on the ROS. Hope this helps.


View CovenantCreations's profile


127 posts in 2960 days

#2 posted 12-18-2010 12:36 AM

Try using less glue

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3138 days

#3 posted 12-18-2010 12:51 AM

I’m with Steve. You don’t want to underglue a cutting board so extra squeeze out is inevitable, but it’s much easier to deal with when it’s tacky instead of completely hardened. I’d also recommend scraping 30-60 minutes after, depending on how cold it is and how long it takes to dry.

-- Matt -

View SPalm's profile


5321 posts in 3939 days

#4 posted 12-18-2010 01:45 AM

I have built a few complicated endgrain glue-ups, and I think you have described the problem well. Endgrain will soak up glue, even if you wipe or scrape it off (although this helps get rid of it). So the glue has soaked into the grain. You must remove enough wood to get below this line. A drum sand excels at this, but they are expensive. A ROS with 60 or 80 grit as Steve mentioned will remove a lot. A belt sander is faster than a ROS and is wider hence more level.

A router mounted on a sled will do a really good job. I have used a router to level very large glue-ups. I would very much recommend it.

Another note: Always wipe down a board with mineral spirits before applying oil. This will show any glue problems, but will not contaminate the board against further sanding.

Good luck,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Szczuldo's profile


42 posts in 2831 days

#5 posted 12-18-2010 02:21 AM

Scrapping the glue off when it is hard and dry is not too difficult either. Just make sure to wear eye protection, those hard glue bits hurt…I use a wide belt sander to flatten the end grain and have had no issues with any glue that I was not able to get out. Although I can see where using only a ROS will prove diffucult

-- -Alexei

View bvdon's profile


496 posts in 3072 days

#6 posted 12-18-2010 10:43 AM

I’ve made few boards. The first few were put through my 20 inch planer (yes, the final end grain)... the 5th one sort of exploded in the planer, so I won’t be doing that any more (I knew it could happen, but had to see for myself—was not that dramatic).

When you are doing the end grain glue-up it is best to get things aligned as close as possible. Next, scrape off the glue after it’s dried for an hour or two. Then use either a belt sander (easy, good results), router (not so easy, excellent results if you’re careful) or a drum sander (easy, great results).

View Timothy's profile


60 posts in 3897 days

#7 posted 12-18-2010 08:04 PM

Thank you everyone for the comments. I have done several of the techniques mentioned above about scraping the glue (after 45 minutes in my case) and sanding thoroughly with 60 grit sandpaper. Must just be my luck. I have a hand held belt sander coming to me as a Christmas gift, but wasn’t able to use it for these boards. Sometime in the future (10 yrs or so) I imagine I’ll buy a stationary belt sander. I guess I’ll just have to make more cutting boards for these folks when I am able to produce something I’m more proud of giving as gifts.

View curi0usJack's profile


21 posts in 2816 days

#8 posted 12-18-2010 11:57 PM

Do you have a picture? I made 6 boards last year following Marc’s recommendations, and it worked pretty well. I ended up using an old belt sander for 40 to 120 grits. The boards I made were plenty thick enough so this wasn’t a problem. Finished up to 220 with ROS, then hand sanded to 320 before finishing with the salad bowl finish. So far on the boards I’ve made the finish is still holding up well a year later.

I personally am not a fan of the “wait 30 then scrape” method of taking off squeeze out, preferring to use a wet rag. When I scraped, I usually just ended up making a huge mess, but that might have just been my method for scraping. If you need to get the boards done before Christmas, I would suggest you go rent a belt sander tomorrow and sand them all to at least 80. You should be able to get 7 boards done in the 4 hour rental time.

And I have to disagree with Covenant’s suggestion of using less glue. I didn’t use enough glue on the first couple boards I made, which made for gaps after I did a bit of sanding. I then had to patch them & resand before finishing, and that just wasted time. I recommend using more glue than you think you need to avoid starved joints, because you can’t cover them later. The belt sander takes it off easy enough.

Good luck!

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2991 days

#9 posted 12-20-2010 07:22 AM

Your observation is correct. Glue will be absorbed through the end grain.
In fact it start to get absorbed right away.

Scraping after 30mn does not prevent glue absorbtion. Depending on how much is absorbed,
you may need to scrape or sand more.

Like Spalm said a drum sander is great and you could achieve similar thing with a belt sander.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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