Cracks in cutting board

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Forum topic by barnbuilder posted 12-05-2016 06:24 PM 590 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1006 days

12-05-2016 06:24 PM

I’m new to woodworking. I’ve made 4 end grain cutting boards that turned out fairly well. However, I’m having trouble with my most recent board. It uses maple and padauk. Portions of the maple have developed cracks. I assume it has something to do with temperature/moisture changes in my process but I don’t know for sure. You can easily see the cracks in the pic since the padauk sanding dust settled in them. This is the first board I’ve made in cold temperatures and wonder if that has an affect.

My process consisted of milling the boards and glueing them up in 50 deg weather. It sat in my garage for a couple weeks with outside temps varying from 30 deg at night to upper 60’s during the day while I was gone on a trip. Once I returned and began the finishing process I kept the board in the house to reduce exposure to temp changes and only brought it outside for sanding. My sanding process consists of a progression from 80 grit to 320 grit with a ROS. After each grit I wet the board to raise the grain and leave it standing on end to fully dry before moving to the next grit. The board is mostly dry in 20 to 30 mins. I completed the final sanding last night and found these cracks in the board this morning.

Is there a flaw in my process that created these cracks? Is this board now junk? It would be difficult to get glue into the cracks given how thin they are and I would worry that once I oil the board there would be blotches from the glue.

Thanks for the help. I have a couple more boards to make for Christmas and don’t want to have any more cracking issues.

4 replies so far

View TFA's profile


10 posts in 748 days

#1 posted 12-05-2016 07:22 PM

I’ve gotten cracks like that too on end-grain cutting boards I can’t give a definitive reason for it, but my best guess would be that it occurred due to the wetting and drying of the boards multiple times. I did fill the cracks successfully though with some wood-glue mixed with saw dust.

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1013 posts in 924 days

#2 posted 12-05-2016 07:34 PM

You can see that the cracks radiate away from the pith in each case. That is perpendicular to the direction that wood expands and contracts the most. Looks like the maple tried to shink more than the box it was glued into allowed, thus the crack. Likely due to a disequilibirum of moisture at some points in the process.

Most likely more specifically: the “inside” was still wet, and the outside dried faster and wanted to shrink, so it “checked” (cracked).

You need to shoot for a slower drying process and/or be more careful with the wetting.

That said, it’s an end grain cutting board, that’s gonna happen during use and then some.

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8 posts in 1006 days

#3 posted 12-05-2016 08:53 PM

Thanks guys. The rate of the drying process might make sense… I probably wetted the board way more than I needed to (put it under running water vs just rubbing with a damp rag) and the outside did seem to dry fairly quickly.

Would you worry about sealing the cracks? I like the suggestion of mixing dust in the glue but again these cracks are so thin I don’t know if I can get much glue in them and I’m worried about the blotching affect. Would it be safe to just oil and wax it (4:1 ratio of oil/bees wax) and hope that will be enough to seal the cracks and prevent bacteria?

View Dwain's profile


572 posts in 4007 days

#4 posted 12-05-2016 09:08 PM

I think it would be a fools errand to try to fill these cracks. Continue to use it and make more cutting boards. Each will get better and you will become a better woodworker. My two cents.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

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