It’s a very common question. Can end grain cutting boards be sent through a planer to get them smooth and flat? This video conclusively answers this question for you, and explains the safety concerns that accompany planing end grain cutting boards.
What is an end grain cutting board?
End grain cutting boards start out as a standard panel-type glue up, with the boards glued edge to edge, long grain up. Once the glue is dry on that panel it gets flattened (it’s OK to use a planer at this stage), the panel is crosscut into a number of pieces, and each strip is stood up on end. This new assembly is glued together resulting in an end-grain-up configuration on the final board. This creates a very durable and attractive cutting board. If you’d like to know more about making your own cutting board, have a look at the WoodWorkers Guild of America cutting board plans.
Cutting board finish
There are a number of good finishes you can use for cutting boards. One of the best is simple mineral oil. It’s available in the pharmacy section of most grocery stores. You’ll also see mixes of mineral oil and beeswax. What to avoid? Don’t use vegetable or corn oil on a cutting board. It can go rancid over time.
Other great gift ideas
Any type of cutting board makes a great gift or craft show item. If you’re looking for more ideas about woodworking projects that make great handcrafted gifts, we’re here for you. Have a look at our large selection of plans for handcrafted gifts.
I worked in the refining industry for 30 years. During that time, I saw many injuries caused by using the wrong tool for the task. Injuries such as these have been well documented, in blood as the saying goes, and everyone is trained and constantly reminded of them. The jobsites are audited throughout the tasks to try and ensure adherence to the safety guidelines. But still, there are some that just don’t think it can happen to them, but it does. A common response from a worker of one these injuries in the ambulance ride on their way to the hospital is “I’ve done that a hundred times before and that’s never happened”. Something to consider.
Any advice on wether or not running end grain across the cutter head on a jointer is a good/bad idea?
Hello. I think it’s a very bad idea. There is a significant risk of destroying your project and incurring injury.
Instead of using a hand-held router and router sled, would it be possible to attach the cutting board to a sled and use my overhead router to flatten it? For medical reasons I try to avoid using a hand-held router.
Hi Brenda. I haven’t tried this, but I think it would work fine as long as you take light passes. If you try it, please send a picture and let us know how it worked.
With respect, this advice is WRONG. I have made dozens of cutting boards by sending them through the planer. What makes my boards come out like you wish they would is that I glue on sacrificial strips of scrap material, the same or a little thicker than the rough board. They are glued with edge grain up rather than end grain. When the board is planed, the strips keep the ends from blowing out. It works EVERY time and saves lots of work compared to a router sled or sander. I end up with a FLAT board which then goes to the drum sander with 120 grit. I finish it off with a 6-inch Festool Rotex sander and the results are great.The Rotex takes out the scratch marks which occur when end grain goes through a drum sander. I take about half the cut of planing face grain. Works every time.
Very good advice. I came close to losing my thumb, and I’m still recovering from this mistake. I knew better, but took a chance and paid for it.
I understand what you are saying about running them through a planner. But I have to disagree with you on this. I’ve been making endgrain cutting boards for gifts going on 5 years. I have all but two through a planner. I have used both a spiral head and a straight planner. I have seen the damage that it can cause. Here are my finishing steps and few little tricks that I have learned to make it go as smooth as possible.1. I take no more then a 1/32 off at a time. Yes your shaving it but it cysts down on the rip out. 2. I add face or edge grain to both ends. This ends up being the big saver. It doesn’t allow the cutting board it’s self to blow at the ends. i usually add 2″ on each side. 3. I run the final planed piece through a wide belt to smooth it out. 4. I run my orbital sander over it till I get the surface I want. 5. Seal with boos mystery oil. I haven’t had any large problems. That with over 50 boards made and more to come.
Never tried but I have watched this Russian guy do it for years and that’s his business.
I’m still afraid to try it with my PM209HH with Byrd head.
What about a hand plane?
Hi Albert. Yes, you could do that, but you’ll want to use a very sharp low angle plane, and you’ll want to put a sacrificial block against the edge of the cutting board to prevent blowout when the plane hits the edge of the board.