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End-Grain Cutting board - does direction matter?

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Forum topic by Philinjersey posted 10-31-2011 06:47 PM 3306 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


10-31-2011 06:47 PM

Hello all -

I’m not referring to endgrain, I know I want an end-grain board, but in looking at the numerous boards posted at LJ I’ve realized that many of them have cross-grain construction in order to execute the pattern. Always being conscious of grain direction in other projects, why does it not matter here? Or does it? Seems to me that, at least for a board that is actually used, all the wetting/drying cycles of use and cleaning would make stability even more of a paramount design consideration. Specifically, I’ve been looking at the “Tumbling Blocks” and “woven” patterns which necessitate rotating the grain and gluing face to edge, edge to face, etc. How have these constructions held up?

As a side note, has anyone actually spent a couple of hours dicing onions while staring at these patterns? Does it make you nauseous or sick or hypnotized??? Some of the patterns are beautiful but not the best choice for something you’re going to be staring at for any length of time. Experiences with this?

Thanks for any light you can shed on this, and thanks for all the inspiration from the many postings.

Philip


11 replies so far

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IrreverentJack

724 posts in 2305 days


#1 posted 10-31-2011 08:12 PM

has anyone actually spent a couple of hours dicing onions while staring at these patterns? Does it make you nauseous or sick or hypnotized???

Phil, THAT”S A GREAT QUESTION! Are some of these beautiful designs too distracting to be safe? Should they have a warning label? I’ve been mesmerized by a few of them on my computer screen – what is it like looking down at one with a scary-sharp chef knife in your hand? Funny – but it is a good question. -Jack

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childress

841 posts in 3003 days


#2 posted 10-31-2011 08:15 PM

gluing edge to face is not an issue with cutting boards. It’s when you glue edge or face to end grain when the problems come into play. Even gluing end grain to end grain is a problem in my belief (others will think differently) and I feel the board won’t last….

-- Childress Woodworks

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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


#3 posted 10-31-2011 08:34 PM

Childress, why doesn’t it matter on cutting boards? We wouldn’t do that in a construct of furniture – think of the returns of a piece of molding on the sides of a cabinet where one would normally either use brads, nails or some sort of sliding-dovetail means of attachment in order to allow movement of the underlying panel. You very well may be right, that it doesn’t matter on cutting boards, but I’m wondering whether that’s actually true for a cutting board that’s going to see a lot of use, and if it is true, why can we do it in this situation and not in others? Endgrain isn’t an issue as it will all be face-up and make up the actual surface that’s cut upon.

Irreverent Jack – I wasn’t even thinking about the safety aspect but rather the culinary aspect. If I hypnotize myself and start clucking like a chicken, who’s gonna finish the cooking? :-) In actuality, I was thinking more about comfort – I think that staring at some of these designs, while beautiful to look at for short periods, might induce one heck of a headache, not exactly conducive to the successful completion of a culinary endeavor. Of course, tossing ones cookies wouldn’t be too conducive either!

Philip

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MrRon

3926 posts in 2705 days


#4 posted 10-31-2011 08:58 PM

The alternate grain pattern should be used the same as if you were building a table top. The real problem comes when you use the board. Moisture will always play havoc on a cutting board, but if you don’t wash it, but just wipe it down, it shouldn’t give trouble. Restaurants use plastic cutting boards. They don’t dull knives and can be kept clean. If you cut meat, poultry or fish on a wood board, you have to wash it well and that will cause the board to warp. If you want a decorative board that is nice to look at, fine, but if you want to do serious cooking, stick with plastic.

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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


#5 posted 10-31-2011 09:20 PM

thanks MrRon. This is for serious cooking, but for non-meat products. BTW, there is actually evidence out there that there is a natural anti-bacterial quality to a wooden board that suggests that a well-cared-for wood board is preferable to a plastic board. I do as the butchers from long ago did, sprinkle the board with salt, scrub it in with the cut side of 1/2 a lemon, then wipe dry with a clean towel. No odor, no residue, no bacterial formation. When only used for non-meat items, the 1/2lemon wipedown is fine. A spray-bottle of white vinegar will do the same thing and doesn’t waste a lemon.

Philip

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Brian Shourd

106 posts in 2055 days


#6 posted 10-31-2011 10:08 PM

Personally, I think the cross-grain gluing doesn’t cause a problem because of the scale involved. The problem with large furniture is that the wood movement is percentage-based, so a very big piece might move 1”, but a very small piece will only move .0001”. The idea is that the movement for small pieces is small enough (and wood is plastic enough) to not cause problems.

Another place where we commonly see this type of cross-grain gluing is in box joints. But again, the cross-section is so small that there isn’t really a problem. Box joints are used all the time, and are considered very strong joints.

-- Brian

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childress

841 posts in 3003 days


#7 posted 10-31-2011 11:14 PM

why can we do it in this situation and not in others?

Because the pieces being glued together (normally) are too small to do anything destructive to one another. With furniture, you’re talking about bigger panels and such that can move a lot across the grain. With a 2” or so wide piece of wood, nothing to worry about. The movement is minimal and when all the pieces are assembled in a way where the direction of the grain is fighting each other (again, small pieces) then it makes for a stable block as a whole. I mfg end grain blocks and believe me, the testers I have out there are getting used and abused, beaten to hell, washed a couple of times a day (in most cases) and NOT oiled. No failures yet…. :)

If the blocks end up failing, it’s because it wasn’t milled and glued correctly. This is, of course…. my opinion. :)

-- Childress Woodworks

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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


#8 posted 10-31-2011 11:16 PM

Thank you for your thoughts Brian – that may be the answer, I don’t know. I’ve never done one of these before and since my plan is to give it as a gift in 2 weeks, don’t really have the time to find out for myself. (Now that I’ve said it, it seems pretty gutsy to count on this coming out good enough to give as a gift without embarrassing myself, but….... I’m gonna do it anyway) Naturally, the last thing I’d want to happen is for the board to start coming apart, especially for this reason since its bothering me enough to have posed the question here.

Philip

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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


#9 posted 10-31-2011 11:18 PM

Childress, that sounds like a reasonable explanation. Thank you.

Philip

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degoose

7196 posts in 2816 days


#10 posted 10-31-2011 11:26 PM

I have not made as many boards as Childress, but I have made a lot of patterned ones and have yet to have one returned… actually I did have on fail but it was left in sink half filled with water over night.. and it fell apart only on the part that was submerged… The only other small problem I have had is when I use borders… they can shrink a very small amount and there is a lip formed at the corners… but not in the main part of the board…
Further… the endgrain board has no endgrain glue up… all the endgrain is either on the top or bottom of the board…. In the case of multi patterned boards, there is endgrain to long grain glue up but the pieces a held in by other pieces.[think brickwork] and can’t move…
Just my thoughts on the matter…
As to the mesmerising patterns… most of my boards are too pretty to cut on and are used for serving or as wall art.

LOL

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ lazylarrywoodworks.com.au For lovers of all things timber...

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Philinjersey

8 posts in 2260 days


#11 posted 10-31-2011 11:40 PM

Thanks Degoose, I was hoping to hear from you since some of your boards were the ones I’ve looked at. I appreciate you chiming in on this and relaying your experience. I guess for the average person your boards are too nice to cut on, but for myself I can always make another, spend a lot of time cooking, and so would like to treat myself to something so decadent. As for the gift I’m planning, I don’t think they’ve cooked in 20 years so therefore I’m quite confident that it’s going to be ‘countertop art’ but appreciated nonetheless.

Philip

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