"I do not want to see that endgrain"

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Forum topic by 716 posted 12-10-2015 08:06 PM 1287 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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502 posts in 886 days

12-10-2015 08:06 PM

Why is a joint that shows end grain is regarded as lower class by so many woodworkers ? I see the expression in the title way too often.
An average Joe glancing over a cabinet and seeing endgrain makes a conclusion that is is a real wood, not MDF or some other faux wood.
To me personally joints showing endgrain look more substantial, which is often true.

-- It's nice!

13 replies so far

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1200 days

#1 posted 12-10-2015 08:09 PM

If its a nice through M&T I think it looks good. A well thought-out joint will look nice when done well. Else a Dove Tail would be verboten.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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502 posts in 886 days

#2 posted 12-10-2015 09:03 PM

Agree, it looks plain ugly !

-- It's nice!

View fivecodys's profile


973 posts in 1605 days

#3 posted 12-10-2015 09:07 PM

The only end grain I try to hide is on plywood or mdf and that’s because I usually buy a lesser grade that has voids and its ugly.

-- There' are two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5101 posts in 1690 days

#4 posted 12-10-2015 09:11 PM

I like seeing wood grain, it removes all doubt about real wood vs. laminated particle board without inspection.

View JayT's profile


5590 posts in 2180 days

#5 posted 12-10-2015 09:22 PM

Why is a joint that shows end grain is regarded as lower class by so many woodworkers ?

- 716

Don’t know for sure, I actually like the look of end grain in certain applications. My guesses for the origins would range from end grain looking different because of how it absorbs finish and not wanting that to show (or to deal with the different absorbtion rates as the craftsman) to using techniques to hide end grain sometimes means more time and care has to be taken. That last one is more for panels rather than joinery. Good joinery will frequently show end grain.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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4764 posts in 1108 days

#6 posted 12-10-2015 10:03 PM

I tend to agree that end grain at a butt joint is unappealing. However, as mentioned above, through mortise and tenons (like A&C style) and G&G style box joints or well-done dovetails can make a piece better than hiding those joints. I think the key is to place the end grain appropriately and execute flawless joinery.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1121 days

#7 posted 12-10-2015 11:11 PM

End grain is part of the total wood look, but takes extra work, more sanding, sanding with finer grit so it does not look darker then flat/edge grain. ect. So if you are a lazy finisher you want to hide it, if not show it off.
I show it off, unless doing a bread board end look, which I rarely do.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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3027 posts in 2226 days

#8 posted 12-10-2015 11:55 PM

My opinion is that end grain takes in and releases moisture faster that long grain. That means that it moves more and sooner that long grain. This could create an issue for some structures or finishes. However, it isn’t a problem for dovetails or breadboard ends which are small enough that differential movement is insignificant or is of no consequence. I don’t think the darker coloring is a concern, because if that were true, it wouldn’t be tolerated in dovetails or breadboards. Also, we tend to like the color contrast offered in the appropriate applications-dovetails, breadboard ends, box joints, etc. FWIW

-- Art

View Tim's profile


3785 posts in 1931 days

#9 posted 12-11-2015 12:31 AM

If its a nice through M&T I think it looks good. A well thought-out joint will look nice when done well. Else a Dove Tail would be verboten.

- SirIrb

I will say I’ve seen it said that half blind or full blind dovetails are preferred/better. Not sure if that’s because of the end grain issue or not.

I personally agree with the above comments that it is part of the natural wood and doesn’t need to be hidden. The part about end grain having to be treated differently for the finish to match does seem plausible for the origin of the preference against end grain. It’s certainly not a universal opinion, but some people sure act like it should be.

View Ub1chris's profile


116 posts in 1349 days

#10 posted 12-11-2015 01:44 AM

Unless you’re making cutting boards. Then bring it on!

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4688 posts in 2320 days

#11 posted 12-11-2015 01:59 AM

I don’t have the hang up that a lot of wood workers have with end grain. It doesn’t bother me a bit on tables or anything else for that matter. If you look at G&G furniture they use end grain as a design element. It can be as beautiful as any other grain. Even if you breadboard the end of a table then the end grain of the bread board shows to the front. How about end grain cutting boards? They are beautiful and functional. I’d rather see end grain than poorly executed miters any day.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1184 days

#12 posted 12-11-2015 03:55 PM

The only time I think end-grain is ugly is when it is abrupt and breaks the visual line at a corner. When you use finger or dovetail joints you sew the corner together and the eye wanders through the joint, everything looks intentional and balanced. When you butt two boards together you get this chunky, weird looking joint that is not visually appealing. The color of the wood changes, the line of the wood changes, everything about the section is wrong. It looks poorly planned, maybe even poorly crafted, though these are not necessarily so.

When making lids, table tops, or benches, I have no issue with end grain it fits and flows. I think that end grain can be quite beautiful, so long as it is not abrupt and out of place.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2286 days

#13 posted 12-11-2015 05:37 PM

In times past hand-cut joints were nothing special. All joints were hand-cut. Many people liked the clean lines of joinery that kept the end grain hidden.

Just remember that end grain will have a definite impact on the visual flow of a design. When people’s eyes move across long grain they’ll tend to stop when they suddenly see the shift in color of end grain. Is that what you’re trying to accomplish with the design or do you want people to follow the shapes without stopping?

-- See my work at and

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