Cutting Board Disaster!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 07-31-2010 12:47 AM 4408 reads 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Discovery:

A few months ago, I woke up one morning, poured my coffee, and was incredibly disappointed to see that my cutting board exploded! OK so maybe it wasn’t all that violent but it was cupped like crazy and had a very large split. Upon further inspection, I noticed a bit of trapped water in the center of the underside of the board. Now the thing to remember about end grain cutting boards is that even after finishing, they will still soak up moisture like a sponge. So standing water is your cutting board’s Kryptonite!

What Happened?

So how does the split actually occur? Well let’s think about what happened. The water soaked into the center of the board and as a result, the center “squares” swelled and expanded. Because the moisture was in the center only, the wood in the outer perimeter did not expand. So something had to give. The resulting crack is really nothing more than pressure relief. Think of it like surrounding a piece of solid wood in a frame. Eventually, the joints in the outer frame will open up if the board in the middle expands.

The Epoxy Fix:

The first step in repairing this disaster simply involves waiting. After a few weeks, the board flattened out and the crack closed up almost completely. But the gap was still big enough that I wanted to use a gap-filling glue, so epoxy did the trick. Now I know what you are thinking. Is epoxy food-safe? While I have heard that food grade FDA-approved epoxies do exist, I have never seen them. And I can definitely say that the West System Epoxy I use is not FDA-approved. So why would I use this on my cutting board? Generally speaking, its the same logic I subscribe to when discussing the safety of film finishes. That is, once cured, the product is inert. In other words, its not chemically reactive and its not actively leaching chemicals under normal room temperature conditions. Furthermore, the crack represents such a small area that actual food contact would be absolutely minimal. Now while I am not prepared to tell you epoxy is completely food-safe, I will say that I consider cured epoxy safe enough to use on a small crack on MY cutting board. Ultimately, the final decision is yours.

Want to make an end-grain cutting board like this? Check this out!

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

26 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8539 posts in 3701 days

#1 posted 07-31-2010 12:51 AM


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 4013 days

#2 posted 07-31-2010 01:06 AM

Love the trick with the vacuum hose. Thanks.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View Bothus's profile


441 posts in 3229 days

#3 posted 07-31-2010 01:21 AM

Hey Marc,

Thanks for the vacuum trick.

Not sure about epoxy on a cutting board, although your logic is sound and I would do it too, be prepared for feedback on this one.

Can you say “EpoxyGate”

Take care,


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3944 days

#4 posted 07-31-2010 01:29 AM

I hate it when that happens. I’ve sold over 400 cutting boards in the past three years, and I’ve had that happen once. When wood decides to move, nothing is going to stop it.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4236 days

#5 posted 07-31-2010 01:31 AM

Wow. 400:1 is a pretty darn good track record!

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3594 days

#6 posted 07-31-2010 01:59 AM

I think it’s the finish used. I’ve never had this happen to me (fingers crossed) and all I use is mineral oil with beeswax finish. That wet spot looks like it was under the film finish. Could also use some rubber feet to keep it off the counter…

I do agree that the epoxy is inert when cured and have even talked to a mfg that said they use the resin to coat the inside of soda cans or something but, like you said, couldn’t provide any docs to it’s FDA compliance.

-- Childress Woodworks

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3248 days

#7 posted 07-31-2010 02:04 AM

That is a great tip with the shop vac, thank you. Excellent video as well.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4236 days

#8 posted 07-31-2010 02:04 AM

I should also clarify that this is a well-seasoned 5-year old cutting board. And since my varnishing method is always a hot topic of debate, here’s an article I wrote on my process with my justifications:
My Cutting Board Finish

I use the varnish to seal the board, but not to create a film on the surface.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 4010 days

#9 posted 07-31-2010 02:11 AM

I use rubber bumpers as feet on all my boards now. I find that people would lay the boards flat on the counter for long periods of time and they would cup….Also not good if the counter gets wet. The feet are cheap, and they prevent the board from sliding when using it.

That is a great trick with the shop vac.


View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3649 days

#10 posted 07-31-2010 03:25 AM

Holy Crack BatMan good save

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3457 days

#11 posted 07-31-2010 04:33 AM

Wow great idea with the vacuum. Thanks for sharing.

-- Alan, Prince George

View zlatanv's profile


691 posts in 3286 days

#12 posted 07-31-2010 04:54 AM

Cool fix, I’m always finding the cutting boards sitting in the sink with stuff piled on them, just waiting for this to happen, keep telling my wife but she has a mind of her own that somehow I can’t get into. I did drop a board and had a split a little ways thru it, I spread it open and injected some glue and clamped it, good as new. I used your finish tech and love it. Thanks.

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3243 days

#13 posted 07-31-2010 07:51 AM

Very cool vacum trick Mister!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3765 days

#14 posted 07-31-2010 02:40 PM

Clever use of the vacuum! Thanks for posting this.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4222 days

#15 posted 07-31-2010 02:45 PM

Don’t think I would have had the patience to wait but now I’ll know better. Thanks.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

showing 1 through 15 of 26 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics