I've got those wide and thick Maple boards that I'd like to use to make end grain cutting boards with end grain Walnut and Jarrah inlay. The main body will be made up of Maple. The normal process of creating an end grain cutting board that I've seen so far is done by:

  • ripping the board into strips.
  • gluing the faces together.
  • cross cutting to the target thickness
  • gluing the edges together.

Is this process mandatory or cosmetic? Since the main body is made up of a single type of wood, can I just cross cut the board into strips with the thickness I am after and glue the faces together? My main target it to decorate it with an inlay while having the advantages of an end grain cutting board?


3 Answers 3


Is this process mandatory or cosmetic?

Well for that style of board it's mandatory for the cosmetics :-)

Apart from allowing smaller offcuts to be used up, the standard board construction using small blocks of wood does have a structural reason: each glue joint make the board stronger.

But there's no technical reason you have to make an end-grain board exclusively out of little blocks, rather than longer pieces showing end grain. However, because end grain strips are inherently breakable across the grain you need to be concerned about their length and how they're aligned. And the final thickness of your cutting board is obviously a significant factor here too, a 25mm / 1" offcut from the end of a board is weak enough that it can easily be snapped in half using the fingers, while a 2" offcut from the same board would be much stronger.

Since the main body is made up of a single type of wood, can I just cross cut the board into strips with the thickness I am after and glue the faces together?

Definitive yes, with caveats.

Using longer strips I think you have to stagger the joints (e.g. using 'running bond' pattern) for sufficient strength, as in these examples:

Offset joints in cutting boards

  • 1
    My biggest concern, actually, is the inlay.... ?
    – keshlam
    Sep 2, 2015 at 14:48
  • @keshlam, seconded. I feel like it would tend to be easy to chip it off when cutting, or that it would pop off cue to expansion/contraction of the board.
    – grfrazee
    Sep 2, 2015 at 15:08
  • 1
    Maybe inlay on the back of the board, if you're willing to have only one working surface...
    – keshlam
    Sep 2, 2015 at 15:14
  • @keshlam good point, I'll put that in a separate question.
    – OKAN
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:44
  • If you don't like inlays you could insert long biscuits made of plywood, masonite, thin boards, metal, plastic, [yourfavouritematerial] totally invisible.
    – LosManos
    Sep 3, 2015 at 10:03

I have made end grain walnut cutting boards with only 1 glue up. I make them a minimum of 2" thick, generally closer to 2-1/4" without any problems so far. I believe the moisture content is very important to the raw material. I check all my wood with a moisture meter. I like to stay in the 6% range but will go no higher than 8%. Following the finishing (sanding), I use mineral oil and apply as many coats as the board will absorb. I then finish with a final coat of mineral oil and bees wax. So far this has worked for me with no failures. I wish you much success going forward with all your cutting board projects.

  • Can you expand on your method? In particular, how do you clamp the wood in perpendicular directions without it sliding out of position?
    – Ast Pace
    Dec 12, 2015 at 5:12

Knowing how will only come with experience. I generally start by clamping loosely in both directions (length & side to side) and tighten as I move toward the desired tightness. I also clamp to keep the board flat to avoid unneeded sanding. Once the adhesive (I use Titebond III) is dry I use my table saw to square the uneven edges. Let me know if this works for you. I will help you until you get the experience needed to move forward.

  • Are you possibly also @larry phillips? If so, whey don't you combine your answers and make one very good answer? (create a new answer, copy and paste from both of these, then delete both of these.)
    – Ast Pace
    Dec 16, 2015 at 18:14

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