END GRAIN CUTTING BOARDS
Cutting Boards to Last a Lifetime
What is and End Grain Cutting Board?
End grain cutting boards are made by cutting American wood into long boards. These two(2) inch thick boards are then planed until they are square on all sides. The long boards are now cut into small rectangular blocks. The blocks are then arranged so the end grain of the wood is facing what will become the top of the cutting board. By using the end grain of the board, the finished cutting board will have all the rings of the wood clearly visible on its surface. Since the cutting board is constructed from end grain blocks of wood, it will have a dense surface and be able to withstand the edge of a knife.
End Grain Cutting Boards are often more expensive than an edge grain cutting board because they 1) require more wood in the production process and 2) they require significantly more time to cut and construct the end grain cutting board. The finished end grain cutting board is usually one and a half inches thick and much heavier and sturdier. An end grain cutting board may require a little more board maintenance over the life of the board as an end grain cutting board must be waxed on a regular basis.
Many people choose to purchase an end grain cutting board simply because it is the best for cutting meat and will usually last longer than any other type of cutting board. End grain cutting boards, while not as colorful as an edge grain cutting board, can have very striking and rich grain patterns. At Stag’s End, every end grain cutting board is inspected at every step of production to ensure it is the highest quality board and meets Brian’s (the owner) highest standards.
How is and End Grain Cutting Board Made?
Once an end grain cutting board pattern is selected the raw wood carefully chosen. The grain pattern of the raw wood is critical as it will become the visible surface of the end grain cutting board. Each end grain board 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 about 1 and 7/8 inches. The boards are then cut into small rectangles and arranged into the desired pattern. These end grain pieces are glued together using a food safe wood glue.
Once glued, the rows of end grain boards are compressed tightly together using a large, commercial clamping system. They are now set aside for a day or two to completely dry. After being removed from the clamping system they are sanded several more times on a belt sander. The sanding process continues for quite some time as it will involve large belt sanders, rotary sanders, and finally professional hand sanding. The end grain boards must be sanded until they achieve a perfectly smooth surface with a vibrant end grain appearance.
The end grain cutting 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 end 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 the minimum amount of protection to their cutting boards.
The finished end grain cutting board is now ready to have the Stag’s End logo laser etched onto the side of the board. A final buffing finishes the board and is wrapped in butcher paper and sent to shipping. At Stag’s End, we work hard to ensure each end grain cutting board is the highest quality and provides years of carving pleasure.
Are End Grain Cutting Boards different from Edge Grain Cutting Boards?
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 into the grain and leaving slight knife mark on the 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 arranging the wood up so the rings of the tree (grain) are seen from the top of the cutting board. When you can see the grain of the wood you know that you have an end grain cutting board. 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 sightly cut into it. As the knife slightly passes thru the wood the grain snaps back together in a self-healing manner. This unique feature makes the end grain cutting board unique and ideal for cutting meat. This self-healing grain process ensures that the end grain cutting board remains sanitary with basic cleaning for decades.
Which is Better, an End Grain Cutting Board or an Edge Grain?
This isn’t an easy answer as each board has its unique benefits and disadvantages. Many people have one of each as they can both serve a function in a modern kitchen. Some prefer the end grain cutting board for carving meat while others like to have an edge grain cutting board on hand to dice vegetables and to display food.
The edge grain cutting boards require less upkeep than an end grain cutting boards because 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.
End grain cutting boards are considered the most durable and ideal for heavy use. With the grain exposed to the surface of the board a 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, 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. It is important to remember not to ever use a serrated knife on a cutting board as it will ruin the cutting board.
What are the Advantages of an End Grain Cutting Board?
One of the primary advantages to purchasing an end grain cutting board is the durability. End grain cutting boards are thicker and heavier. They are designed to last decades with proper care. The end grain wood is very friendly to your knives and will allow them to stay sharper, longer. The exposed grain patterns in an end grain cutting board can be quite beautiful and are often left on display in a kitchen as opposed to being stored in a cabinet.
The primary reason a chef will select an end grain cutting board is durability and cleanliness offered by cutting on the end of the wood grain. Butcher blocks are designed and built because of the features of this end grain functionality.
Most home chefs select an End Grain cutting board simply because they was a traditional cutting board that not only has a great wood grain look but also is a board considered the highest quality that will last for years to come.
What are the Disadvantages of Owning an End Grain Cutting Board?
End grain cutting boards usually require more maintenance than edge grain cutting boards. Since the grain is exposed on the surface of the cutting board it must be cleaned after each use and waxed at least once a month to ensure it does not begin to dry out. You should use Stag’s End Wood Wax to condition your cutting board as it is specially made with food grade products here in the USA.
End grain cutting boards are often thicker and larger than other cutting boards. This results in them weighing about twice as much as their edge grain cousins. While the size and weight are an advantage in some respects it can be a disadvantage if you do not have the strength to maneuver a 15-pound cutting board.
Price is also a consideration when purchasing an end grain cutting board. End grain cutting boards often cost two to three times the cost of a comparable edge grain cutting board. This is primarily due to the thickness of the board, the price of the raw wood, and the amount of additional time need to construct a quality end grain cutting board.
Popular Types of Wood used to Make End Grain Cutting Boards
End grain cutting boards are usually made from one of three American hardwoods: Maple, Cherry or Walnut. These three hardwoods are grown in the forests of Eastern America and have amazing grain texture. The Maple is lighter color and has a clean crisp grain pattern. Cherry wood has a rich reddish color and a very bright grain pattern. Walnut is the darkest color of wood with a very deep brown pattern accented by lighter grain patterns.
Many think that Walnut end grain cutting board Is the most beautiful because of its rich look and texture. Whatever color of End Grain cutting board you select you can be assured that it will make a statement when sitting on your kitchen counter.