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I read this question: Edge jointing end grain cutting board strips with a power jointer

And someone made a suggestion, glue a side grain hardwood border, which in theory would make it safe to pass through the jointer by preventing splitting. Is this correct?

I'm in this exact situation, I'm making these small 6" x 9" cutting boards with end grain cherry and a side grain purple heart border (see image):

Cutting board

Is it safe to pass these over a jointer?

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    You're essentially asking for opinions here — some people consider end grain through a planer an absolute no-no, others don't — so I'm voting to close. I do want to say though that it is extremely dangerous to run end grain boards through a planer, no matter how many people hold opinions to the contrary. It's not just that there's a chance of the boards breaking, there's a possibility of catastrophic damage to the power tool (people have broken planers) so don't underestimate the risk here. – Graphus Dec 2 '19 at 9:11
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    There are two other issues worth noting, the first is that the 2 end boards would be going through cross-grain, their surfaces will not be planed to the same quality as the rest and the trailing edge is sure to break out. Second, you can't be assured of stability making a board like this, a solid-wood panel framed all round. Wood movement could easily pop the frame open. Even if the gap is only 1/64" 0.5mm is not acceptable. Only very small panels (coaster size or a little over) are really safe to build this way, once you pass about 4-6" in width wood movement is almost certain to be an issue. – Graphus Dec 2 '19 at 9:16
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    @JuanEnriqueMuñozZolotoochin yes, we are strict, and the reasons for that will be made clear in the tour. The idea is to build a good collection of questions and answers. Since this is not a forum, it is incumbent upon all contributors to strive to be as clear as possible, and comments are the main way to ask for that clarity from the author of a question. – jdv Dec 2 '19 at 17:52
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    @JuanEnriqueMuñozZolotoochin your last comment should actually be in the Question body, which you can easily change with an edit. But, as I thought, this question is more about production techniques, not one-offs, and the way you are going about it is a very common production technique. My answer attempts to answer at least one aspect. – jdv Dec 2 '19 at 19:08
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    "Man, you guys are strict about grammar here, not super welcoming for non-native English speakers." Sorry for how this might seem to you but it's important for us to get a clear picture of what's being asked, on a question of safety more than normal. And even native English speakers have sometimes (er, quite often!) used sloppy/atypical terminology or been less than clear about what it was they were asking so clarification is something we're accustomed to having to do. – Graphus Dec 3 '19 at 7:40
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I'll assume that you are asking about this because you are actually making several of these at the same time, and want to stack up the steps. This is often done when when mass producing things like cutting boards. They are often sliced, planed, and jointed from larger chunks. [And I see from your last comment that this is exactly what you are doing.] Of course, these sorts of shops (factories, really) probably also have power feeders and other conveniences.

In this case, the edges will often not be actually run through a jointer. To handle complicated grain patterns, most high production shops will use a higher RPM tool, along with with multiple carbide cutters. They treat the wood more like soft metal, trying to throw off tiny chips. In most cases this will be some sort of routing tool, probably with variable speed and a pretty high top speed. The profile will be cut into the edges with and across the grain reasonably well, though there is often a finish sanding step required because of tear-out.

You also have to accept some number of items that have to be discarded because of tear-out or whatever.

If you do need to use a jointer, I suspect a much higher RPM unit with higher numbers of carbide cutters is what you want. My advice would be try with fresh cutters, taking very light passes.

To answer your main question: is this safe? Well, you are risking a variety of kickback situations, especially at higher speeds. I'd wear a full faceshield and stand well away from the line that the tangent to the cutters makes with the material. And, as I mention earlier, take light passes. Remember that the primary job of any router or jointer is to remove the meat from the unwary operator. Make sure you use feather boards and so on to keep yourself safe.

I bet you could even rig up a jointing or routing jig to make things safer. Since you are doing large numbers of these, a jig might save you time in the long run.

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  • Out of curiosity have you ever run a piece cross-grain over your jointer or through a planer? – Graphus Dec 3 '19 at 7:48
  • @GraphussupportsMonica maybe years ago. I no longer own a jointer. I recall the trick was super light passes. If I were to do this, I'd likely set up the tool I do have (a router) as a jointer and try that. – jdv Dec 3 '19 at 14:55

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