Running an End-Grain cutting board through a planer?

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Forum topic by Kenny posted 03-02-2012 11:01 PM 3269 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2417 days

03-02-2012 11:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

First, sorry if this isn’t the proper place for this.

Now, my question/dilemma: I’m making a pretty big end-grain cutting board for my father from Jatoba, hard-maple and purpleheart.

I’m considering making it in two pieces and running them them through my lunchbox planer to flatten them as best I can. However, as it is a straight-knife machine, I’m a bit nervous about trying this. I wouldn’t take more than a very, very light cut per pass, but I’m still planing the end-grain of some very hard wood.

So, is this safe, or a bad idea?


-- Kenny

16 replies so far

View Tokolosi's profile


678 posts in 2324 days

#1 posted 03-02-2012 11:07 PM

I have done this with disasterous results. The board shatterred, pieces went flying. Based on the dent in my wife’s washing machine I was very lucky to not have gotten hurt. Personally I would definitely not do that ever again!

But, I have heard of others who do it regularly.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3843 days

#2 posted 03-02-2012 11:10 PM

I wouldn’t. Not sure about the safety issue, but I think there’d be a good chance you’d ruin your project. I think you’re going to have to get better aquainted with your belt sander!

-- -- --

View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 2876 days

#3 posted 03-02-2012 11:11 PM

A drum sander is a way better option. That’s what I do. But as Tokolosi said people here on LJ say they do it all the time without any problems. Perdonally I’ll stick with my drum sander.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2804 days

#4 posted 03-02-2012 11:41 PM

I’ve done it once, board was purpleheart, maple, apple and some others. Even making very light cuts, 12 stops to turn the crank one turn still slowed the machine a bit. Did a great job though. Hardest part was setting the initial height.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2740 days

#5 posted 03-03-2012 12:08 AM

This is a bad idea, the blades can grab the end grain and cause an explosion in your planer.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2456 days

#6 posted 03-03-2012 12:08 AM

I’ve found it easier to use a router and a sled. Or, the router table and a riser on the boards.

What ever you do, consider rounding over the edges so there isn’t as much chance of catching the edge and breaking stuff.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View waho6o9's profile


8168 posts in 2545 days

#7 posted 03-03-2012 12:19 AM

Drum sander, done.

View woodtools's profile


21 posts in 2258 days

#8 posted 03-03-2012 01:37 AM

I would not even attempt this for all the reasons previously stated. This is one of those jobs where a traditional approach of using a well prepared hand scraper works very well on the finished glue up.

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2417 days

#9 posted 03-03-2012 01:38 AM

OK, I have made my final decision pertaining to the end-grain-through-the-planer idea, two words: H*LL NO!!!

So, the router sled it is!

Thanks. I had a feeling this was a bad idea to start. Just proved my suspicions.

Anyway, I’m not risking it and possibly hurting my brand new $300+ lunch-box! Just not worth it.

I could see it now, catching on the end-grain and shattering the granite bed. Oh how wonderful that would be!

-- Kenny

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2920 days

#10 posted 03-03-2012 03:06 AM

I went the router sled option and found it worked very nice—- not everyone has a drum sander. ;-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3525 days

#11 posted 03-03-2012 03:10 AM

Never tried it but the general opinion seems to be – BIG MISTAKE

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Bruce C.Oestreich's profile

Bruce C.Oestreich

25 posts in 2348 days

#12 posted 03-03-2012 05:17 AM

I agree with other that this would be a bad idea.One a lunch box planer is way to light duty for even straight grained heavy boards and you only have one speed. The only way I would do it with a planer is to use climb feed and a slooooow speed.Its best to use a wide belt sander for this project.Abrade the wood rather than cutting it and tearing the grain.

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2417 days

#13 posted 03-03-2012 05:50 AM

Bruce, I don’t have a wide enough belt sander or drum sander (my drum sander is only 10” wide), and in all reality, I want to avoid sanding this if I can.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sanded anything that is all end-grain and contains a light wood, like maple, and something exotic and and brightly colored like this purple-heart is, but it always seems to turn the lighter colored wood purple, and it’s a pain to clean it off after. Even with compressed air and then wiping with denatured alcohol, it doesn’t always come back as white as it was.
This may not happen to everyone, but it sure happens to me! If you have a secret on how to avoid the staining, I’d love to hear it!

And seeing as this has jatoba and purple-heart, which are both much darker than maple, sanding is something I’d like to avoid as much as possible.

Once I get this flat, level and of even thickness, I’m going to do final prep with my Veritas low-angle block plane with the knob and tote attached. I’m thinking the 25 iron in that plane should handle that end-grain nicely. If it give me any issue, I’ll score it lightly with the toothed iron and then come backand take a super-light shaving with the 25 blade with a fresh hone on it.

Thanks for all the help everyone! Probably kept me from getting hurt!

-- Kenny

View bondogaposis's profile


4688 posts in 2320 days

#14 posted 03-03-2012 02:28 PM

Don’t do it!

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2456 days

#15 posted 03-03-2012 02:38 PM

Kenny, I know about how the end grain can swap colors and blend when sanding. BTDT. My way at that time was to sand it as needed with 80=100 grit then use a card scraper, freshly sharpening the bur every so often. A sharp scraper will take off more material than a lot of sand paper, leaves a nice finished surface and is a bunch easier on the arms than a block plane.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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