Grain and cutting board thickness?

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Forum topic by Steve Kreins posted 02-26-2014 05:07 PM 6583 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve Kreins

358 posts in 1871 days

02-26-2014 05:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question humor resource cutting boards grain usage

I learned my lesson the hard way with end grain cutting boards. I’ll wait until my skill level goes up a notch or two before trying that one again.

First Question: I know what end grain is, I think the other aspect is called the “long grain” (not sure), but what is the side grain called? Let me try to show an example with a couple of pics of a piece of pecan I have. End Grain and Long Grain?

Is This Called Side Grain?

Second Question: I have a lot of thin stock, can I cut to the thickness of my cutting board and glue with (side Grain up) and treat it the same as the wider pieces (long Grain?

Third Question: How thin can I make a cutting board without running into trouble with warping or other problems?

I hope I explained myself this time better than the last question I asked, just remember, I’m old and sick and get my feelings hurt if you treat me like an idiot. By the way, the Chemo therapy has made some drastic changes to my face, so I get upset easily!



(Disclaimer for you serious types that are missing your funny bone, I’m kidding about the facial changes)

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

10 replies so far

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

514 posts in 3757 days

#1 posted 02-26-2014 05:24 PM

You seem to have the end grain and long (aka face grain) down pat. Side grain is just the side of the board…if you have a square block, you can pretty much call anything except end grain as face grain or side grain. Usually you are simply interchanging the terms. The side (2) of a 2×4 board is the side grain and the 4 is the face grain. If you are doing a glue up you can glue the sides or the faces together since both are ‘long’ grain.
Just my 2 cents.

-- jstegall

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3472 days

#2 posted 02-26-2014 07:57 PM

If you think of it how it comes off the trunk of the tree, saw across the trunk with a chainsaw and look at what is exposed, that is end grain. Now make a cut 90 degrees from that anywhere around the tree, and you have exposed long grain. Long grain means you are going with the fibers, end grain means you are going across the fibers.

Face grain, long grain, side grain all terms for the same thing. End grain is the unique item…

Did my example make sense? I never know…

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View DrDirt's profile


4526 posts in 3982 days

#3 posted 02-26-2014 08:15 PM

I have never made an end-grain board thinner than ~1 1/4 inches. Thinner will be a potato chip with changes in moisture.

To me what you have to be careful of is that as the board gets wet from time to time, those fibers at that surface will swell. There needs to be enough “glued up mass” behind it to sustain the pressures involved.

Second you need to use woods that have similar expansion rates – but most woods already known to make cutting boards match up pretty well. It is all about managing the stresses.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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Steve Kreins

358 posts in 1871 days

#4 posted 02-26-2014 08:16 PM

Yes, both of you explained that so even a slow person like me could understand, thanks. I know it almost sounds silly, but I got a little gun shy when I tried that first end grain cutting board.

Now, How about thickness for a face grain cutting board?

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

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John Stegall

514 posts in 3757 days

#5 posted 02-27-2014 02:19 AM

I prefer about 1.25” but mainly because I like the look. I doubt I would make one thinner than 3/4”.

-- jstegall

View jmos's profile


905 posts in 2610 days

#6 posted 02-27-2014 01:53 PM

I have a mass produced, store bought, 12”x16” long/face grain cutting board I’ve had for probably 20 years that’s 3/4” thick. Nothing fancy; some cheap white fairly hard wood, made from 1” wide to 2.5” strips.

I use this one daily, and it gets washed in the sink all the time. Within the last couple of years its started to warp a little, and the joints are starting to separate a bit. But I don’t think that’s too bad for what it is and what I paid for it.

When I get around to replacing it I would probably make it a little thicker, but I’d be hard pressed to say it didn’t work. I regularly see 3/4” cheese boards and smaller cutting boards.

I don’t think I would go thinner, and definitely thicker on larger boards.

-- John

View Picken5's profile


267 posts in 2932 days

#7 posted 02-28-2014 05:33 AM

I’ve made a number of cutting boards — and all of them were long/face grain. I’ve never done an end-grain cutting board—mostly because I don’t particularly care for how they look. I’m sure it’s true that end-grain cutting boards last longer and do a better job of hiding the cut marks of knives, but I still don’t care for how they look.

Some folks would describe a few of my cutting boards as “edge-grain”—meaning the thinner edge of the raw boards were up when I glued them together. I’ve only done that when I wanted the end result to be thicker than what I had in available materials. I don’t think it made any difference to how well it performed—but it was thicker.

Most of my boards ended up 3/4” to 1” thick — but I once made a 30” x 24” section of a counter top for my brother-in-law that was 1-3/4” thick (basically a big cutting board) out of hard maple that I flipped the edges up to achieve that thickness. (Way cheaper than buying thicker stock.) Does that answer your “second question”?

Go ahead and experiment. If some of your work ends up as firewood, then you might just tell yourself the wasted wood was the cost of your education in that instance.

I’ve had almost no issues with warping on cutting boards. I try real hard to buy wood that has been properly dried—which helps. But I think the relatively short length of most cutting boards also helps discourage warping.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View Steve Kreins's profile

Steve Kreins

358 posts in 1871 days

#8 posted 02-28-2014 01:31 PM

Thanks for the comments! Thicker = Better, as a general rule.

I appreciate you folks!

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

View bondogaposis's profile


5155 posts in 2591 days

#9 posted 02-28-2014 02:35 PM

I think the thickness depends somewhat on the length and width of the board. I like it to be proportional to the rest of the board. I think for an 8×12 board a thickness between 1 and 1.25 inches thick looks right to me. I make most of my boards using maple w/ darker accent pieces. I will take an 8/4 plain sawn maple stock and rip into 1.25” strips then turn those on edge and glue them up. That way the quarter sawn grain is face up on the board. That makes it less likely to cup and I think looks better. You can get any thickness board you like from 8/4 stock this way. Here is a picture of some I have done this way.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2610 days

#10 posted 02-28-2014 02:44 PM

I have made a few for myself to use up some scraps. I think I actually like the character of mismatched strips better than the nice ones I’ve made as gifts. I made some that we’re 1 1/4” thick and they just looked too bulky to me, even after putting a chamfer on the underside. It’s all personal preference as long as you don’t go too thin. I’ve found that what I like best is 7/8 thickness. I then cut a slight chamfer on the underside using the tablesaw. I drill holes on the bottom and epoxy in little rubber feet, which brings overall height to about 1”. Obviously that wouldn’t give you a two-sided board, but I’d rather have one that doesn’t slide around on me. Plus after I rinse it off, I can set it back down on the island and know that it’ll dry on both sides.

Most of my scrap boards end up around 8”x12”, like Bondo’s, so they’re not that big. Some smaller. I made an island with a maple butcher block top, and I think that top ended up almost 2” thick. So I think it’s all about proportions.

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

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