End Grain Cutting Board flattening

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Forum topic by AandCstyle posted 07-19-2012 11:35 PM 7950 views 2 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3052 posts in 2255 days

07-19-2012 11:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: milling sanding

I know that one or two people on this forum have made end grain cutting boards. :D I have started making them recently and, in spite of my best efforts, I always end up with strips at slightly differing heights. I have flattened the two faces with my thickness planer, but that causes too much chip out. I have also sanded with a drum sander which works great, but it is slow and uses abrasive faster than I like.

Therefore, my question is what do all the seasoned pros here use to get their boards flat?

-- Art

26 replies so far

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#1 posted 07-19-2012 11:56 PM

Make yourself a router sled. It’s the best way to go for cutting boards, especially if you have to flatten end grain.

-- Brian Timmons -

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2303 posts in 2483 days

#2 posted 07-19-2012 11:59 PM

Oh yeah, hit the edges with a chamfer or radius bit first, or you might have some tear out along the edges.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2800 days

#3 posted 07-20-2012 01:01 AM

Handheld belt sander

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2255 days

#4 posted 07-20-2012 01:54 AM

Brian, I think this solution will work for me; I already have most of the materials on hand. I will make one tomorrow to use on my next board. Thanks!

Bob, I know that the belt sander would do the job if I felt that I could control the uniformity of the thickness. My experience with a belt sander isn’t that great, but thanks for the suggestion.

-- Art

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3647 days

#5 posted 07-20-2012 01:58 AM

router sled…
for for safety sake – please try to refrain from sending end grain through a planer… do some searches online for wha this might result at… not pretty

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

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3052 posts in 2255 days

#6 posted 07-20-2012 05:38 PM

PurpLev, thank you. I know that now, but didn’t. Once was enough to make a believer out of me that that is DEFINITELY not a good idea.

-- Art

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#7 posted 07-20-2012 07:04 PM

Yes, sending end grain through a planer is an extremely bad idea.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4090 days

#8 posted 07-20-2012 07:21 PM

The router sled is a good idea, but you will still need to do some sanding.

I made a bunch last xmas. Did a little experimenting and found the router sled to be the most effective. I then used my home made drum sander with 100grit paper to start the sanding (and cleanup the router marks with 1 light pass), followed with a ROS 120, 150 and final at 220. Using the drum sander to thickness sand did chew up paper, and I found myself feeding the boards in 5+ times/board to get them flat. End grain is tough stuff.

I bought a 1 1/4 mortising bit (I think it’s an Amana bit) that makes quick work using the router sled.

I’ll be doing more boards this year for xmas. These are additive to build, and seem to be a “right of passage” on this site. Some really beautiful boards here.

-- Nicky

View Dchip's profile


271 posts in 3250 days

#9 posted 07-20-2012 07:22 PM

A well-waxed, sharp, low-angle jack plane can make pretty quick work of an end-grain board. I just did a batch of three this way. It’s a bit of a workout, but some frequent honing of the blade can really help. I like that there are zero material costs with this method (once you get over the $200 hump for the plane).

-- Dan Chiappetta, NYC,

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2255 days

#10 posted 07-20-2012 11:22 PM

Nicky, thank you for the great info. I will try your sanding schedule on my next board.

Dan, I could definitely use the workout. LOL However, I am not sure if I will live long enough to master sharpening. :)

-- Art

View prickett_smiles's profile


3 posts in 1006 days

#11 posted 10-15-2016 10:01 AM

I send a board through the planer…...a 13×24 1.5 thick maple end grain….and it shot across the room and into the wall and shattered. Luckily I wasn’t standing in front of the planer like I usual do or I would of taken the impact to the family jewels. :)

lesson learned I will be making a router sled my self. :)


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10479 posts in 3427 days

#12 posted 10-15-2016 01:22 PM

A bowl bit in the router seems to leave a surface requiring less sanding. In my experience at least.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View splintergroup's profile


2011 posts in 1220 days

#13 posted 10-15-2016 02:44 PM

Wow, echo from the past!
Still working on that board Art 8^)

Anyhoo, my $0.02. I remove the squeeze out with a belt sander then on through the DS with a 36 grit belt. Proceed as usual, very light cuts (usually 10+ with each grit step). Let the board cool if it starts to feel warm, end grain will easily warp when hot.

How are those shutters coming?

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2255 days

#14 posted 10-15-2016 10:05 PM

Talk about a blast from the past… ha

Splint, yes that board is history. Thanks for asking about the shutters. Today I finished 12 shutters that will cover 3 windows. I will hang them tomorrow. Once they are done, I will have 5 windows completed and 7 to go. Unfortunately, 5 of the remaining will each require 8 shutters each. Ugh!

-- Art

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3894 days

#15 posted 10-16-2016 03:27 AM

Art – I’m curious as to the differing heights. Are you meaning that the slices are of different heights as you cut them on the table saw – or is it that your final glue up allowed one or two slices to slide above the others?

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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