Gluing endgrain <--> endgrain

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Forum topic by Andrew posted 12-06-2011 10:08 PM 5911 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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316 posts in 2565 days

12-06-2011 10:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: glue

I have made a few end-grain cutting boards. I’d like to try a more simple method of making an edge-grain board, since it will be a light-duty board for infrequent use (bread serving only). I’d like it to be a checkerboard pattern.

My question – a checkerboard edge-grain board will lead to lots of end grain butt joints….will this hold up? Anything I need to do differently, or just make sure the joint isn’t glue starved?

I also want to put a strip on either end, which would give me an edge-grain to end-grain joint. Any difference? Thanks.

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

24 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3847 days

#1 posted 12-06-2011 10:10 PM

I must ask – if you want checkerboard pattern – why not do it end grain and have all long-grain-to-long-grain glue joints?

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

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316 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 12-06-2011 10:11 PM

Well 2 reasons…

1. I wanted to try for a slightly different look of seeing the long-grain on top.
2. For special-use boards, it’d be nice to be able to run it through the planer after the final glue-up to make the project a lot easier.

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

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316 posts in 2565 days

#3 posted 12-06-2011 10:13 PM

This is the one I am trying to replicate, just love the look of the long-grain. (I am correct in thinking this is long grain, right?)

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2874 days

#4 posted 12-06-2011 10:29 PM

You are correct in thinking this is long grain. Long grain does glue the best by far. Since you are going to the bother to make it this way you might try to do a little more to make it last. Have you thought about using long dowels to hold it together. You could also us longer threaded rods. The nuts and washers would hide in the end block. If you used a piece of wood placed across the ends this would hold the blocks. the long grain on the block sides would glue as usual. The wood across the end of the blocks would be made into a mortise and tenon joint that would glue to the end caps. More work but you asked for more work when you decided to use the edge grain or long grain on the top surface….right? I like it. Show us a step by step photo session when you get it finished. Thanks

View harrywho's profile


120 posts in 3430 days

#5 posted 12-06-2011 10:57 PM

Many years ago I read an article about gluing end grain. He recommended putting on a base coat of glue, letting it dry and than gluing the wood pieces together. The first coat of glue seals the end grain so you don’t have a glue starved joint. I’ve never tried it but it seems to make sense.

-- Harry, Indiana

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3273 days

#6 posted 12-06-2011 11:09 PM

A follow up on Harry’s point – -

I have done some end grain gluing. I always apply a generous amount of glue to both surfaces and let it set for a few minutes before joining. In theory, this gives the glue a chance to soak into the end grain.

If the joint is going to be subjected to any stress, I use dowels to strengthen the joint.

If it is a low stress joint, I usually use biscuits. I’m not a biscuit fan but with end grain gluing I think they serve a good purpose. I’ve had very good luck with my approach.

Here is an example of end grain gluing that I did on a communion rail. As an FYI, there are 4 dowels buried into this joint and each dowel is about 4” long. This turned out to be a very good, clean joint that should stand the test of time.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2831 days

#7 posted 12-06-2011 11:16 PM

That joint looks bullet-proof. With 4” dowels it must be!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4417 days

#8 posted 12-06-2011 11:18 PM

I have made a number of long-grain chess boards and tables using the method described in the first minute of this video, and I’ve never had any problems with the joints holding up.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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316 posts in 2565 days

#9 posted 12-06-2011 11:45 PM

Well doing dowels or screws would probably defeat the purpose of it being easier….but i am sure it would make it much stronger. How would I get a hole drilled that long and narrow? I don’t own a drill press…

Charlie – can you provide some more details on how you did the glue-up? How much did you put on? Did you glue both ends or just 1?

Letting a thin layer of glue dry seems to be a decent idea, but how much? Just a VERY light coat? Any more than that and I’d think you would see some separation of the pieces on the glue-up. I have heard of this method, also diluting the glue with water for the preliminary coat. I would just worry that the glue would be too thick and lead to visible glue-lines.

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3334 days

#10 posted 12-07-2011 12:14 AM

Whenever you aren’t sure, you can do a test piece from scrap. Put glue on both surfaces so they stay good and wet for a minute or three. Clamp them up. After 24 hours see how strong the joint is. How much stress do you expect on a cutting board?

BTW, the cutting board in the pic looks nice, but won’t the cross-grain joints between the end pieces and the checkerboard field break apart in time due to different expansion & contraction? Particularly in a cutting board that will go through repeated wet/dry cycles?

-- Greg D.

View Andrew's profile


316 posts in 2565 days

#11 posted 12-07-2011 12:49 AM

Hmm, didn’t think about the opposite grain pattern. These boards will be sealed with salad bowl finish, that should keep the expanding and contracting to a minumum, right? It seals the surface pretty well.

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4417 days

#12 posted 12-07-2011 02:54 AM

Andrew, I thinly coat both faces, using just enough to still get some squeeze-out when clamping.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2888 days

#13 posted 12-07-2011 04:53 AM

When I did my parquet top dresser valet (grain of each block perpendicular to it’s neighbor), I glued all the pieces to a thin plywood underlayment as well as to each other. Hid the ply with edge banding and have had no no problems with joints separating. Just a thought and might not work for a cutting board exposed to water.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 3310 days

#14 posted 12-07-2011 05:35 AM

I will preface this by saying that I have never done this, so can’t say it will work, but it does kind of make sense.

If you look at that board pattern as “columns” and “rows” it is pretty obvious that all the rows will consist of long grain glue joints, and the column glue joints will be the end grain joints that are a concern.

If I were making this, I would just glue up the rows first with all the good, strong long grain joints, then when they are dry I would use a dowel jig and just put dowel pins at whatever reasonable spacing seemed right at the time. Maybe three per row on something that small.

My thinking is that the long grain glue ups would act just as one board, so it would be just like gluing up boards instead of blocks. This should (and I’m guessing here) mean that it isn’t necessary to have a dowel for each individual block to block end joint.

Just an idea. Probably worth less than you paid for it. :)

View Andrew's profile


316 posts in 2565 days

#15 posted 12-07-2011 05:46 AM

How do I drill a dowel that’s 10” long? I assume I need a drill press for something like that?

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

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