The 67¢ End-Grain Cutting Board

While wandering around one of my favorite green building stores (Building Value Cincinnati on Spring Grove Ave.) I stumbled across a deal that was hard to pass up.  Twelve reclaimed 2″ x 2″x 36″ pieces of wood for $1.00.  I can’t say exactly what kind of wood it is, but I’m leaning toward some type of cedar.  I could be wrong.  It has a unique smell and funky grain pattern, so I couldn’t pass up the deal.  I have been wanting to try my hand at making a cutting board since I haven’t made one since my high school shop class (which was obviously my favorite class).  So, I bit the bullet and plopped down a whopping $1.00 for the materials for the cutting board.

There are several types of cutting boards that you can buy/make.

1.  Plastic cutting boards – No thanks.


Long grain cutting board from

2.  Flat, edge, or long grain cutting boards – Cheap, easy to make, look nice, but not as durable.






End grain cutting board from

3.  End grain cutting boards– The ultimate!  End grain cutting boards are easier on knives (knife sinks in between the wood fibers instead of cutting across the fibers on a long grain board), tend to last longer, and just look cooler!  Also, more challenging to build because of the extra steps.




An easy way to visualize the different types of cutting boards is to look at a log like this.

End grain vs. edge grain

So, my end grain cutting board project began with 8 pieces of wood – for a total of 67¢.

Rough cut recycled wood for 67¢

I first used a jointer to square up two sides of each board, then a table saw to square up the rest of the sides of the wood.  Once the wood was square, I cross cut the 8 pieces in half to make 16 pieces of wood to choose from.  I chose the best and funkiest looking (for a total of 13) and glued them up.  You can stop at this stage, flatten the cutting board out, square up the ends, oil it, and have a beautiful long grain cutting board, but I wanted to take this board to the next level.

Cutting board glued up as a “long grain” board

On a side note, I used Titebond II glue.  Titebond II is water resistant and cures food safe.  After the glue dried over night, I planed (hand planed, still don’t have a power planer) the board perfectly flat.  Very important step.  An uneven cutting board at this stage will leave nasty gaps when you expose the end grain.

Planed perfectly flat and ready to expose the end grain!

The next step is to cross cut 13 strips from the glued up board.  After cutting the strips, I laid them out in their original order and began to mix up the puzzle.  For the design I flipped every other strip 180 degrees to create a checkerboard pattern.

The final glue up goes exactly the same as the first glue up.  I sanded down the top and bottom, and then rounded over the edges.    A couple coats of cutting board oil and it’s ready to go!  A pretty fun 67¢ project!  Total time:  2 days

The final product! Oiled and ready to go!

For an excellent video on creating end-grain cutting boards, check out (you guessed it) the Wood Whisperer’s video here.