Monday, December 31, 2012

End grain cutting boards

This is a project I found great satisfaction with.

First, a word about end grain boards.  What makes an end grain board so desirable?  Well, it's fairly simple.  They are far more durable, more impervious to bacteria penetration, do not show cut marks, and they last (dare I say it?) almost a lifetime.  They are very expensive, but for anyone who enjoys working in the kitchen, it's a must have.

Imagine a paint brush laying on it's side, and your knife coming down and across the bristles.  This is a hard surface on your knives, and in no time the wood will show cut marks, and even possibly knicks where small pieces of wood become dislodged.  This is what happens when you use an edge or flat grain board.

Now, take that same brush, and hold it upright, bristles pointing to the sky.  Imagine your blade coming down into the fibers, making a nice, soft landing for your knives.  As you extract your knife, the fibers (or bristles) immediately close up and seal the cut.  Knife marks just do not show on an end grain board, and as a result, they last much, much longer.

It's really that simple.  The process of making an end grain board is not complex, though some of the designs can be *quite* impressive and intricate, and, of course, one must have the right tools.  How many times have I heard my husband say, "if I only had (insert power tool here), I could make (insert project here)."  Too many to count, I'm afraid.  And, now, I'm a power tool junkie, myself.  How the heck did *that* happen?

At first I thought I would post this as a tutorial, but then realized there are so many tutorials online, written by woodworkers with many, many years of experience.  Those folks are far more qualified than I, so I will just share my results.

We started with oak, as I wasn't sure where this project would go, nor if we would even be successful with it.  I didn't want to invest in a more expensive wood until I knew we could do this.  The oak was found at our local lumber yard.  We had everything else we would need, including a few tools.

The oak board turned out so pretty, with it's distinctive and dramatic grain pattern.  These shots were taken after the final sanding, and edge finish, but before we oiled it for the first time.


Then after it was pretty!


Then it was time for the cherry/maple board.  Because the woods had more of a color variance from one another, a 'pattern' was calling my name.  Not a particularly impressive, nor inspired design, but I'm really proud of this one, too.

Before oiling.


And after oiling.


This was such a fun project.  If I thought I could earn a bit of money making these boards, I fear I would do nothing else.  Working with wood is such an 'earth connecting' experience for me.  I think I must surely have a woodworkers' heart.