Removing Tooling Marks on Endgrain Cutting Board

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Forum topic by Chewy3939 posted 01-08-2014 11:50 PM 3163 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1808 days

01-08-2014 11:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: end grain cutting board drum sander tool marks router sled sanding finishing end grain jig

I recently made my first end grain cutting board. The glue up went well but there were a few uneven pieces so I leveled the board with a router sled. The only issue is that the router left stripes and tooling marks on the wood and I have no clue how to remove these marks. I tried sanding with a ROS (80 grit) but it just wouldn’t work. I also tried a regular sander and that really didn’t work. I tried a handheld belt sander but it was very sloppy and only left deeper marks. I then tried card scrapers and they did very little to remove any marks but left a great smooth finish. What can I do beyond buying a drum sander to remove these marks? I plan to produce quite a few of these cutting boards so simply sanding and sanding and sanding doesn’t sound too appealing to me. Thankyou for your help.

10 replies so far

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2977 days

#1 posted 01-09-2014 12:03 AM

At it’s simplest, the only way I know to remove any marks or whatever in the wood, is to remove the layers of wood that contain the marks. In end grain this can be particularly difficult. If the marks are deep, you will either need a very aggressive method, or a lot of time.

I’ve flattened cutting boards with a router sled and I don’t remember “tooling marks” I just remember it left a very rough surface that needed to be sanded a lot to smooth out. A picture may help better identify the best solution.

I would avoid hand held belt sanders, they can be very aggressive and will quickly make a flat project non-flat but that could also just be my inexperience with the tool.

If you can get a much lower grit for your random orbit sander, somewhere in the 30-40 range that’s really aggressive stuff and should make it a bit easier to sand out. They also make hand planes designed to smooth out end grain, the blade is angled differently or something I’m told. This could be another option.

I would also avoid any temptation to put it in the planer, the planer knives can potentially snag the end grain and cause the cutting board to break apart (I’ve heard explosively) inside your planer. Some have had success with this, I just don’t think it’s worth the risk.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2251 days

#2 posted 01-09-2014 03:43 PM

For my first end grain cutting board, I ended up putting in a lot of elbow grease with my No 4 hand plane. I would not advise that option if you can build a router sled (which is what I plan on doing for my next one)

-- paxorion

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2575 days

#3 posted 01-09-2014 04:42 PM

What bit did you use in your router? I got similar results with a cheaper dado cleanout bit, but when I switched to a Whiteside bowl & tray bit, the surface was much better.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

352 posts in 2766 days

#4 posted 01-12-2014 09:34 PM

I have found that a drum sander is my tool of choice for this task. Since you are making “quite a few” of these end grain cutting boards, why don’t you check around with the local cabinet shops and see if one of them has a wide belt sander and would agree to do the sanding for you for a reasonable price. If they could at least do the flattening for you, some time with an ROS should work for the finish sanding.

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

View bigblockyeti's profile


5290 posts in 1926 days

#5 posted 01-12-2014 10:03 PM

I used a belt sander starting with 36 grit belts and working up to 120 grit before switching over to my ROS to finish the job out to 220 grit. The first took a while, but once I had a jig set up to be able to go through several boards quickly, it didn’t take too long. Working through the grits on the belt sander was much quicker than the ROS. End grain seems much more sensitive to dulled paper than long grain, in my experience.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2895 days

#6 posted 01-13-2014 10:33 PM

bigblockyeti , End grain seems much more sensitive to anything than long grain. Sanding , planeing , staining Etc.

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2895 days

#7 posted 01-13-2014 10:47 PM

I would think that you need a better bit for your Router or go back and check the router sled setup to make sure it is staying flat and level the full length . The router sleds I have seen all need to be setup correctly to keep them even to prevent tooling marks.

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2895 days

#8 posted 01-13-2014 11:03 PM

Check the Wood Whisperer web site for episode 174 – Flattening Workbenches and Wide Boards with a Router he goes over the process and setup of making sure the router sled is even in his Video.

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 1934 days

#9 posted 01-14-2014 12:03 AM

if your router sled is not rigid and your putting exccessive weight on the sled when shifting direction you will leave tool marks I use a 1 3/4 bottom cleaning bit if your using a small say 1/2 or 3/4 bit then your asking for trouble I would purchace a large sharp bit and take light cuts with no pressure just hold the sled at the rails and make sure you wax your rails good so direction shifts are effortless, and start with 60 or 80 grit sandpaper to get the tool marks out whiteside makes a 2 in bottom cleaning bit grizzly has 1 1/2 that cuts smooth and great

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View Thesepaperwings's profile


48 posts in 1874 days

#10 posted 01-14-2014 10:16 PM

Drum sander for sure. I even found a local shop that will work mine down for $5 of their time.

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