How To Choose An End-Grain Cutting Board


A cutting board is one of the most essential pieces of kitchen equipment as it can be used for a wide range of purposes, starting from dicing and smashing and ending with serving. However, choosing a cutting board can be quite challenging. There are just too many types that come in various sizes and shapes…

If you have been on the hunt for the perfect board, the chances are high that you have come across the ‘end-grain’ ones that are typically marketed as the crème de la crème of kitchen utensils.

Below, you will find out if an end-grain board is actually worth it and how to choose the right one.

How to Choose an End-Grain Cutting Board

telomere cutting board
telomere cutting board

If you want to find the best end-grain chopping board, you would have to pay attention to the following features:

  • Porosity of the board

Inspect how tight the individual wood grains are. Ideally, the wood’s ‘pores’ should not be visible to the naked eye. If the board is an open-grain one, it means that it will be vulnerable to water damage. Such woods absorb moisture a lot easier which causes repeated shrinking and swelling.

Porous boards are also more prone to developing cracks and can quickly lose their aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, they can become the perfect harbor for various bacteria.

The porosity of the board would depend on what wood was used to make the board. Try to choose one made out of closed-grain wood, like maple, American Black Walnut, or cherry, for example.

  • Janka rating

The Janka test is used to measure the hardness of wood. If you manage to choose an end-grain board with a Janka rating of 1000 or higher, your board will be a lot more resistant to scratches, warping, and dents. Thus, the overall lifespan of the kitchen utensil will be longer.

African Cherry and American Walnut have a Janka rating of 1,010. The rating of African Walnut is 1,290 and that of American Beech is 1,300.

  • Size

It is generally not recommended to go for tiny cutting boards if you tend to cook a lot as such boards are less stable and you won’t be able to chop up multiple ingredients in one go.

If you’re looking for an all-purpose board, choose one that is at least 15 inches. Or you can measure your favorite kitchen knife and add an additional inch on either side. If the knife is 10 inches, the diagonal of your board needs to be at least 12 inches.

How Thick Should an End-Grain Cutting Board Be?

telomere cutting board
telomere cutting board

A high-quality end-grain chopping board should be at least 1.25 inches thick. However, 1.75-2 inches would be a lot better, if you tend to use the utensil a lot.

Thicker boards are certainly better than thin ones as they are a lot more long-lasting. The additional thickness helps make sure that the boards don’t break or crack when you’re using a meat hammer, for example.

By the way, if you have chosen a board made out of closed-grain wood, it would take your thick board years before it gets its first split as the utensil won’t be absorbing as much moisture.

Is Thicker Better for End-Grain Cutting Boards?

There are a few reasons why you might not want to go for the thickest board on the market.

Such a ‘giant’ can be way too heavy and even potentially dangerous (in case you ever drop it on your toes). Furthermore, the price for such a piece might unpleasantly surprise you.

A 3- or 5-inch thick cutting board would make sense if you want to create a butcher block or a whole end-grain countertop. But 2-2.5 inches is generally the recommended thickness for regular kitchen use.

What Material Should an End-Grain Cutting Board Be Made of?

telomere cutting board
telomere cutting board

High-quality end-grain boards are typically made of hardwood trees.

  • The majority of cutting boards are made of hard mapleas the tree has a neutral color which allows it to be a great fit for a lot of kitchen styles.
  • Walnut cutting boards have a beautiful dark color which is perfect for hiding stains that you haven’t managed to get rid of.
  • Beechboards actually become more attractive as they age (if you manage to take great care of your utensil, of course).
  • Teakboards are a good option for those who are looking for a moisture- and scratch-resistant board. However, do bear in mind that this type of wood is knife-dulling.

End-Grain Cutting Boards vs. Edge-Grain Cutting Boards: Pros and Cons

Edge-grain chopping boards are made out of parallel pieces of wood. These are extremely popular types of boards that are typically made of maple or walnut (but you can also find pine and even bamboo edge-grain boards).

End-grain boards are easily recognizable as they typically come in a checkerboard pattern. That is because the end pieces of different trees are used to assemble the utensil and the wood grains stay perpendicular to the board’s surface.

Both types of cutting boards have their own pros and cons, so you might want to go for the one that meets your specific needs.

Benefits of Using an End-Grain Cutting Board

telomere cutting board
telomere cutting board
  • Durability

End-grain chopping boards are made out of hardwood. This means that they are incredibly strong and can easily withstand quite a few challenges. In fact, if you manage to take proper care of your board, it will last for a decade or, in some cases, even longer.

  • Knife-friendliness

If you have an end-grain board, your knife will stay sharp for quite a while. That is because the fibers are located in such a way that the knife slices between them. This won’t happen with a softer edge-grain chopping board which can rather quickly dull your knife.

By the way, in an end-grain board, the fibers of the wood will push back together as soon as the knife gets removed. That’s the reason why such boards are called ‘self-healing’.

  • Hygiene

End-grain chopping boards are considered to be more hygienic because the grains ‘close’ once you stop chopping which protects the board from bacterial penetration.

A high-quality board would also be made out of wood with low porosity – this helps ensure that moisture does not get into the board as easily.

  • Aesthetics

Once again, due to the fact that the wood grains stay perpendicular in end-grain boards, the knife does not cut off multiple pieces of wood as in the case with an edge-grain board. As a result, you won’t see as many cuts on the former and they won’t be as deep.

Benefits of Using Edge-Grain Boards

  • Low maintenance

Just like end-grain chopping boards, the edge-grain utensils have to be oiled from time to time. But you wouldn’t have to perform such a procedure every 2-4 weeks. That is because edge-grain boards do not soak up moisture as quickly.

  • Affordability

To assemble an edge-grain board, you would simply have to align a few planks of wood lengthwise. There are not as many pieces involved as in the manufacturing of end-grain boards. And as the edge-grain ones are easier to make, they are also cheaper.

  • Lightweight

Due to the simple design and a rather easy construction, edge-grain boards are slimmer and lighter than end-grain utensils. That’s a great plus for those who are planning on using the board for serving or for those who don’t want to turn cooking into a workout session.

  • Aesthetics

Edge-grain chopping boards highlight the beauty of the wood by showing off long, uninterrupted grain patterns which a lot of people might prefer over a checkerboard pattern.

How to Make an End-Grain Chopping Board?

End-grain kitchen utensils are the most time-consuming to make and require the most lumber. But if you are a skillful DIYer and you have all the necessary equipment, then you might end up saving $100+ and building your very own unique piece.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Lumber
  • Planer
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Router
  • Wood glue
  • Mineral oil
  1. Run your scrap through a wooden planer. This will help make sure that the faces are flat.
  2. Cut the scrap inot 2 pieces with a trusty miter saw.
  3. Create a few wooden strips by ripping the boards using your table saw.
  4. Alternate the grain and assemble the beautiful ‘checkerboard’ pattern.
  5. Glue the strips together.
  6. Clamp the strips into two panels. Leave the glue to dry and then trim the panel ends.
  7. Glue all the strips together and clamp the panel.
  8. Run the board through the planer to smooth it out.

How to Maintain an End-Grain Cutting Board

  • After use, clean the board with warm water and dish soap. Never use a dishwasher and try to not leave the utensil soaking in water.
  • Always thoroughly dry the board with a towel after washing.
  • Store the end-grain chopping board on its edge(not the feet).
  • Use a paper towel to generously apply food-grade mineral oil every 2-4 weeks.You will know that it’s time to apply a new coat, once you notice that fluids are no longer puddling on the board’s surface.


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Hi there! My name is Zitang, and I’m a retired chef who has a passion for all things related to the kitchen. That’s why I founded my website, Kitchen Joker, to share my love of cooking with others.

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