top of page

Is an end-grain cutting board better than an edge or face-grain one?

Cutting board and butcher blocks can be made with different types of hardwoods like maple, walnut, cherry and many other exotic woods or a combination of them.

The density of these type of lumber is very high and the minimal porosity in these varieties makes them ideal for food preparation. Softer or porous woods, like pine, poplar, oak or are not recommended to build surfaces that get in contact with raw meats and other potential bacteria carrying foods.

Another aspect to consider when purchasing your cutting board is the look.

Let's first understand the difference between end-grain and edge-grain or face-grain.

Lumber is normally sliced in long boards during the milling process.

Each board has 3 different kinds of grains: the end, the face or the edge.

The end , as you can see, is the surface where you can count the rings and determine the age of the tree.

The face is the most beautiful and allows you to see the real caracter, colors and unique design that nature has created in each individual piece of wood. This is my favorite and most of my boards are showing the face grain.

The edge grain is also beautiful but shows less character because of the limited thickness of the boards.

There is also another difference between an end grain cutting board and the face or edge grain cutting board and has to do with the direction of the wood fibers.

In an end grain cutting board the fibers run vertically so your knife is cutting into the fibers.

In an face grain or edge grain board the fibers run orizontally so you are cutting across the fibers.

The pictures below are a perfect example.

As the first picture shows the fibers of an end grain cutting board separate and then spring back when the blade cuts through them. This makes it easier on your knife's edge requiring less sharpening. This surface also doesn't show scratches as easily because of the elasticity of the wood.

As you can see on the second picture, when you cut on the edge/face grain of a board, you are cutting accross the grain. This process is harder on the knife's edges and you may end up sharpening more frequently.

Also the edge/face grain may show scratches a little more because you may cut the fibers. No self healing here!

Only removing the cut fibers by sending will get rid of the marks.

The orientation of the grain doesn't effect the structural strenght of the board nor the longevity as far as the proper care is applied. End grain cutting board may require more sealing with wax conditioners because of the tendency of absorbing more humidity. On the face grain cutting board liquids tend to run off more easily requiring less care.

I hope you found this helpful and thank you for supporting MO Wood Design.

bottom of page