EDGE GRAIN CUTTING BOARDS
Cutting Boards With Color and Character
What is and Edge Grain Cutting Board?
Edge grain cutting boards are made by cutting wood strips from the edge of a board and arranging the long strips into a unique pattern. By using the edge grain of a tree, you get a cutting board that has long bold strips of color. Since the cutting board is constructed form long strips of wood the wood must be dense and able to withstand the edge of a knife. Therefore, only American, or exotic hardwoods should be used in the construction of edge grain cutting boards.
Stag’s end doesn’t recommend anyone ever purchase a cutting board made from bamboo. While bamboo is a popular, renewable resource, it should never be uses as a cutting board. Bamboo is NOT a tree; Bamboo is an overgrown grass (Google it). As a result, a knife will easily cut into a bamboo cutting board and leave many knife scars. These knife scars will result in the collection of raw food particles that will make the bamboo cutting board unsafe and unhealthy to use. You should only purchase edge grain cutting boards or end grain cutting boards made for real hardwoods.
End Grain Cutting Boards are often less expensive than an end grain cutting board. The edge grain cutting board will also be lighter and easier to handle. Additionally, an edge grain cutting board will require less board maintenance over the life of the board.
Many people, however, choose an edge grain cutting board simply because of its pattern and color. Edge grain cutting boards are often quite beautiful in their contrasting colors and patterns. At Stag’s End, every edge grain cutting board is inspected at every step of production to ensure it is the highest quality board and meets the owners’ high standards.
How is and Edge Grain Cutting Board Made?
Once the craftsman decides on the pattern and style of the edge grain cutting board the raw wood is cut into long strips of varying thickness. Each strip of wood is then made perfectly square by using a planer. Once planed, the wood is then sanded on a belt sander to insure uniform thickness of each wood strip. The strips of wood are then arranged into the desired pattern and glued together using a food safe wood glue.
Once glued, strips are compressed tightly together using a large, commercial clamping system. They are now set aside for a day or two to completely dry. Once dry they are removed from the clamping system and sanded again. The sanding process continues for quite some time as it will involve large belt sanders, rotary sanders, and finally professional hand sanding. The edge grain boards must be sanded until they achieve a perfectly smooth surface.
The boards are now immersed into a bath of mineral oil and set aside to dry for 24 hours. This process is repeated a second time to ensure the edge grain cutting board is fully treated to the high standards of Stag’s End. Many other cutting board companies only hand wipe their boards with oil which only provides limited protection to the boards.
The finished edge grain cutting board is now ready for a final buffing and then wrapped in butcher paper and sent to shipping. We work hard to ensure each edge grain cutting board is the highest quality and provides years of cutting pleasure for you.
How is an Edge Grain Cutting Board different from an End Grain Cutting Board?
A piece of wood has three distinct surfaces: the face grain, the edge grain and the end grain. The face grain is often considered the flat board side of the wood and is primarily used for wood surfaces like doors, cabinets, and tables.
Quality cutting boards are made from either the edge grain or the end grain. The edge grain cutting board will display long bold lines of the grain gunning the length of the cutting board. When a knife is used on an edge grain cutting board it will pass across the grain at a 90-degree angle. This will result in the knife cutting across the grain and leaving slight knife marks on your edge grain cutting board. IF the edge grain cutting board is used extensively, it may need to be sanded at some point to remove the knife scars.
The end grain cutting board is made by standing the wood up so the rings of the tree are seen from the surface of the cutting board. When you can see the rings of the wood you know that you have an end grain cutting board. The end grain cutting boards are usually more expensive and more durable than the edge grain cutting boards. Since the grain is sticking up towards the surface of the cutting board it allows a knife to slightly cut into it before the grain snaps back together in a self-healing manner. This unique feature makes the end grain cutting board ideal for cutting meat. The end grain cutting board is usually thicker than is cousin the edge grain simply because it needs the additional wood to ensure the grain closes every time.
Which is Better, Edge Grain or End Grain?
There isn’t an absolute answer to this as it truly is a matter of choice based on how you want to use the cutting board and what style you prefer.
The edge grain cutting boards require less upkeep than an end grain cutting board as they don’t need to be waxed as frequently. Since the grain of the edge grain cutting board is not exposed the wood will not soak up as much water making it less likely to warp or crack if not waxed on a regular basis.
The end grain cutting boards are considered the most durable and ideal for heavy use. With the grain exposed to the surface of the cutting board the knife can pass thru the grain allowing it to open and then close. This is the best for not only the knife but also the board. The knife will remain sharper and the cutting board because it is “self-healing” it will not allow food particles to get trapped inside the cutting board.
As a result, large end grain cutting boards are often used for true chopping and butcher block implementations. Many professional chefs only use end grain cutting boards for their meat preparation to ensure the highest quality of surface for their food preparation.
What are the Advantages of an Edge Grain Cutting Board?
One of the primary advantages to purchasing an edge grain cutting board is the price. Edge grain cutting boards usually require less wood in the construction as well as less construction time. This results in a more affordable board. Edge grain cutting boards are often priced only 30% to 40% when compared to an edge grain cutting board.
Edge grain cutting boards usually require less maintenance. While you still want to occasionally give your edge grain cutting board a rub down with Stag’s End Wood Wax, it isn’t as necessary as with an end grain cutting board. The exposed end grains of the end grain cutting board need frequent applications of wood wax to ensure the end grain cutting board does not dry out and begin to lose its shape. Many of our edge grain boards function as Charcuterie boards.
Edge grain cutting boards are ideal not only for preparation of fruits and vegetables but also for presentation. An edge grain cutting board can often double as a makeshift charcuterie board. Additionally, the edge grain cutting board is often thinner and more lightweight than an end grain cutting board. Edge grain cutting boards typically weigh about 6-9 pounds compared to 12-18 pounds for an end grain cutting board.
What are the Disadvantages of an Edge Grain Cutting Board?
Edge grain cutting boards are more likely to get cut marks when compared to end grain cutting boards. This is because the knife is moving with the grain those knife marks can’t heal themselves. Over time the knife marks can trap meat juice in the permanent groves left behind. This resistance between the edge grain cutting board and the knife will tend to dull the knife over time.
Edge grain boards, because of the way the wood is cut, do not display as much of the grain. They often have bold colors from the vibrant edge grain but little character when it comes to displaying the grain of the wood.
Types of Wood used to Make Edge Grain Cutting Boards
While many end grain cutting boards are made from a single wood product, the edge grain cutting boards are almost always made from several highly contrasting wood species. This results in a bold and often beautiful contrast of color in the board design.
Some of the more popular woods used to construct edge grain cutting boards are Maple, Walnut, Cherry, Wenge, Padauk, and Purple Heart. The first three (Maple, Walnut, & Cherry) are native the USA and grown predominately in Northeastern America. The latter three (Wenge, Padauk, and Purple Heart) are considered “Exotic” woods and are grown in Central America and Africa. These latter three woods have very bold colors that contrast with the American hardwoods to make beautiful edge grain cutting boards.