End-grain and edge-grain: what do they mean for cutting boards?

John Boos maple cutting board blockJohn Boos cutting boards and butcher blocks are made with one of two types of cutting surfaces – edge grain and end grain. When you’re looking into buying a cutting board, it’s good to consider which type you’re getting because each of the two surfaces affects a board’s appearance and its effect on knives.

Edge-grain cutting boards:

John Boos 18 x 12 x 2-1/4 cutting boardThe surface of an edge-grain cutting board looks similar to the side of a 2 x 4. These cutting boards are made from strips of hard wood, like maple or cherry. The strips are arranged side-by-side and grafted together. As a result, the cutting surface of this type of board consists of only the edge of each strip of wood.

A good reason to select a board with edge-grain construction is to see the beautiful maple or cherry figure on the cutting surface. An edge grain cutting board from John Boos will look great on your counter. A downside, however, of an edge-grain surface is that, after long-term use, it can show cuts and scratches more plainly than an end-grain board. However, both types of cutting boards and blocks are sanitary and long-lasting when hand-washed and dried after every use and regularly oiled with John Boos Mystery Oil.

End-grain cutting boards:

John Boos 12 x 12 x 3 inch cutting board with legsThe surface of an end-grain cutting board resembles the end of a 2 x 4.  That’s where it gets the name “end grain.” A board like this is composed of many short pieces of hard wood. These pieces are arranged vertically and grafted together, side-by-side. Together, the ends of all of the pieces make up the cutting surface.

An end-grain cutting board has the benefits of being both attractive and easy on your knives. This cutting board construction creates a distinctive looking checkerboard pattern. An end-grain board also has a very fibrous cutting surface, so a knife’s edge is likely to sink into the wood fibers while you are cutting.  This type of board also doesn’t show scratches as easily.