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

Written by on March 2011

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.

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