End Grain Cutting Board Vs Edge Grain: Difference Between

Cutting boards are an essential tool in every kitchen, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference in your cooking experience.

cutting boards on kitchen counter near stove

There are various types of cutting boards available in the market, but end grain and edge grain cutting boards are the most popular among wood cutting boards.

Understanding the differences between these two types is crucial in making an informed decision when it comes to your kitchen needs.

A type of wooden cutting board known for its durability and ability to withstand repeated knife use without dulling the blade, due to its unique construction, is an end-grain cutting board. 

The fibers of the wood in end grain cutting boards are vertically aligned, allowing the knife to slide between them and reducing the impact on the knife edge. 

On the other hand, edge grain, also known as long grain, cutting boards are generally more budget-friendly and have a simpler appearance, with the long wood fibers running horizontally. 

However, they may dull your knives faster and be more prone to displaying cut marks over time.

Both end grain and edge grain cutting boards have their pros and cons, and the best choice for your specific needs will depend on factors such as your budget, personal preferences, and cooking habits. 

As you weigh your options, it’s essential to consider factors like durability, knife maintenance, and the overall look of the cutting board, ensuring a perfect fit for your kitchen.

End Grain vs Edge Grain Cutting Boards

Definition and Differences

End Grain Cutting Boards

End grain cutting boards are made from the end pieces of wood, which usually result in a checkerboard pattern. 

The fibers in this type of cutting board have a vertical orientation, providing a soft and open structure.

Edge Grain Cutting Boards

Edge grain cutting boards, on the other hand, are constructed using the long side of the wood pieces, producing a more uniform appearance. 

Compared to end grain boards, the wood fibres in edge grain cutting boards are aligned horizontally, making them less porous and more resistant to moisture absorption.

Pros and Cons

End Grain Cutting Boards 


  • Gentler on knives: The open structure of the end grain cutting board prevents knife blades from dulling quickly, as the fibers move aside when slicing cleanly on the board.
  • Self-healing: Due to their fibrous nature, end grain cutting boards show fewer knife marks and damage compared to edge grain boards.
  • Warp-resistant: The arrangement of the fibers in end grain boards makes them less likely to warp over time and maintain their shape better.


  • Expensive: End grain cutting boards are usually 4 to 15 times more costly than edge grain boards.
  • Heavy and bulky: These boards are often thicker and heavier than edge grain versions.
  • Requires regular maintenance: To prevent drying out and cracking, end grain cutting boards need frequent oiling and conditioning.

Edge Grain Cutting Boards


  • Affordable: A good reason to opt for edge grain cutting boards is to save some money, as they are more budget-friendly than end grain boards.
  • Easier upkeep: These boards require less maintenance, as the ends of the grain are not fully exposed.
  • Versatility: Edge grain boards come in various colors, different sizes, and intricate designs.


  • Less knife-friendly: Due to their harder surface, edge grain cutting boards may cause knife blades to dull faster.
  • More visible knife marks: The surface of edge grain boards is more prone to showing knife marks and damage.
  • Greater moisture absorption: The fibers of edge grain boards are more likely to absorb moisture, which may lead to warping over time.

Materials and Construction

wooden cutting board with knife on it

Types of Wood

There are various types of wood used in the making of end grain and edge grain cutting boards. 

Some common choices in the woodworking project include:

  • Maple: A popular choice for the hardness and durability of its tree trunk makes maple ideal for cutting boards. This wood type also has a closed-grain structure, which helps prevent bacteria growth.
  • Walnut: Known for its rich, dark color and relatively high hardness, walnut is another piece of wood that is a great option for cutting boards.
  • Bamboo: Technically a grass but often used as a wood alternative, bamboo is an eco-friendly choice. It is harder than many types of wood and has natural antimicrobial properties.
  • Teak: Highly resistant to moisture and warping, teak is ideal for heavy use. Its high oil content also helps protect the wood from stains, whether you’re using an end-grain or edge-grain board.

While a plastic cutting board may seem alright to use, it does not withstand damage for long, as grooves start to become visible once your knives damage the board. 

Moreover, bacteria is more likely to stick around on plastic boards, which is why butcher shops prefer using wooden cutting boards when it comes to working with meat. 

Grain Orientation

Wood cutting boards can have different grain types and orientations that affect their appearance and functionality:

End Grain

These cutting boards are made by aligning the hardwood strips vertically, revealing the growth rings that are part of the wood at the top of the board.

This construction of end grain wood is more gentle on knives and allows for self healing of the board where small cuts can close up after use.

Edge Grain

In the construction of edge grain wood, the long strips of wood are aligned horizontally, displaying the face grain, or the edges of narrow boards of wood that are glued together, on the surface.

While this type of cutting board is generally less expensive, it can dull knives more quickly and shows more wear over time.

Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process for end grain and edge grain cutting boards involves a few key steps:

Lumber selection and preparation: The chosen wood species is cut into a smaller piece of lumber and planed to achieve uniform thickness.

  1. Grain orientation: For end grain cutting boards, the individual pieces are arranged vertically, while for edge grain cutting boards, they are placed horizontally.
  1. Gluing: The wood pieces are glued together to form a single, solid cutting board. End grain cutting boards require a strong, waterproof glue to hold the grain pieces securely.
  1. Sanding & Finishing: The wooden board is sanded smooth and finished with a food-safe oil or finish to ensure durability and protection. Regular maintenance, such as applying mineral oil, is necessary to prolong the life of the board.

While the construction methods for end grain and edge grain cutting boards are quite similar, the differences in grain orientation can make a significant impact on the final product’s performance, feel, and appearance.

Aesthetics and Design

Visual Appeal

End grain and edge grain cutting boards each offer unique visual appeal due to the orientation of the wood fibers. 

The contrasting ways in which the grain of the wood is constructed for these two cutting boards result in the end grain design being different from the edge grain design. 

End-grain boards display the wood’s natural tree rings, creating an attractive, intricate pattern that many people find aesthetically pleasing. 

On the other hand, similar to face grain boards, edge grain cutting boards have a more uniform and clean appearance, showcasing the wood’s linear grain patterns. 

The strong and durable design of an end grain chopping board can offer a more rustic and artistic look.

Shapes and Sizes

cutting boards with utensils and bowls

Both end grain and edge grain cutting boards are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, catering to different preferences and kitchen needs

Standard shapes include rectangular, square, and round options. 

You can also find boards with more unique shapes and built-in features, such as handles or juice grooves, to enhance functionality.

Styles and Patterns

When it comes to styles and patterns, end grain cutting boards often have a checkerboard pattern, thanks to the contrasting grains of different wood pieces. 

This creates a visually appealing design that can also serve as a conversation piece in the kitchen, while the wood’s variances also help hide stains or scratches.

Edge grain cutting boards offer a variety of styles too, with options such as simple, clean lines, or more complex inlaid patterns. 

Custom designs and monograms are also possible for edge grain blocks, allowing for a personal touch.

You can use a paint brush to paint your own design on the edge grain butcher blocks. 

  • End Grain Cutting Boards:
    • Natural growth ring patterns
    • Rustic, artistic appearance
    • Checkerboard patterns
  • Edge Grain Cutting Boards:
    • Linear wood grain patterns
    • Uniform, clean appearance
    • Variety of inlaid patterns

In terms of brands, John Boos is well-known for producing high-quality end grain and edge grain cutting boards in various designs and styles. 

Their boards use sustainably sourced wood and showcase precise craftsmanship, making them a popular choice among professionals and home cooks alike.

Performance and Ease of Use

cutting boards on a blue background

Cutting Experience

An important factor when choosing a heavy chopping board is the cutting experience and how it affects the surface of the board. 

End grain cutting boards provide a superior cutting experience due to their fibrous nature, allowing the knife to slide between the wood fibers of the faces of strips of wood instead of cutting across them, as with edge grain boards. 

An end grain butcher block gives you a better grip of your knife against the cutting board.

This results in a gentler cutting surface for your knives and a reduced likelihood of knife marks and scratches. 

The main characteristic of end grain boards is that they tend to be thicker and more durable, making them better suited for heavy duty chopping tasks.

Food Preparation and Serving

Both end grain and edge grain cutting boards can be used for food preparation, but there are some differences in their performance and appearance. 

End grain boards are often more expensive, but their durability and resistance to warping make them a worthwhile investment for serious home cooks.

You could use the end of the board to cut different foods, such as meat or vegetables

Edge grain cutting boards, on the other hand, offer a more affordable option and an ideal surface for food presentation. 

The edge grain side is generally thinner and lighter than end grain boards, making them suitable for serving boards or lighter food preparation tasks. 

The bright side of using these wood cut, small blocks of edge grain is that they make preparing and chopping food on the edge of the board simple on table tops.

However, these boards are less durable and more prone to damage over time.

Board TypeFood PreparationServing BoardsDurability
End GrainExcellentGoodDurable
Edge GrainGoodExcellentLess Durable

Knife Care

Maintaining the sharpness and lifespan of your knives is essential for any cook. 

End grain cutting boards are softer on knife blades, as their open wood-cell structure allows knives to slide more easily without causing significant damage to the cutting surface of the cutting board. 

This means that you’ll need to sharpen and hone your knives less frequently when using an end grain cutting board.

Edge grain cutting boards, however, can dull knives more quickly, as the knife cuts across the wood grain. 

This may result in more frequent sharpening and honing sessions to maintain optimal knife performance. 

Regular application of oil to both end grain and edge grain cutting boards will help maintain their durability and resist food stains.

Durability and Maintenance


End grain cutting boards are known for their durability and longevity. 

Their construction allows most grain to absorb the impact of knife cuts, which results in a self-healing surface that reduces wear and tear.

An end grain butcher block lasts for a long time due to its ability to withstand most damages caused by sharp knives and blades. 

In contrast, edge grain cutting boards are more susceptible to knife marks and damage, although they are generally more affordable than end grain boards.

Damage Factors

Factors like moisture absorption and warping can impact the lifespan of both end grain and edge grain cutting boards. 

End grain cutting boards typically absorb moisture more readily than edge grain boards, making them potentially prone to splitting or warping if not properly cared for. 

However, they are less likely to dull knives due to their fibrous, open wood-cell structure. 

Edge grain cutting boards, on the other hand, are denser and more resistant to water damage, but can cause knives to become dull faster.

Proper Care and Upkeep

To maintain the appearance and functionality of end grain cutting boards, it is important to regularly apply mineral oil or other conditioning treatments.

 This ensures that the wood remains hydrated and less prone to warping or cracking.

Moreover, it is recommended to store an end grain board on its edge, as it can help prevent warping.

Edge grain cutting boards also require maintenance, such as the application of beeswax or mineral oil, to protect the surface from cut marks and maintain aesthetics. 

Additionally, since edge grain cutting boards are less forgiving on knives, it is crucial to regularly sharpen your knives.

To summarize, end grain cutting boards are more durable, but require regular upkeep and proper storage to ensure they last. 

On the other hand, edge grain boards are an affordable alternative with lower maintenance requirements, though they may not last as long due to the wear they inflict on both knives and the board surface.

Cost and Value

Price Range

End grain cutting boards are generally more expensive than edge grain cutting boards due to their construction and durability. 

An end grain cutting board can cost 4 to 15 times more than an edge grain board. 

For instance, end grain cutting boards could easily cost $300 or more, while edge grain cutting boards may be found in the $100 range.

TypePrice Range
End Grain$300 or more
Edge GrainAround $100


End grain cutting boards are typically thicker and more durable than edge grain cutting boards. 

They are softer and gentler on your knife blade, as their short ends have an open wood-cell structure, which helps maintain the sharpness of your knives.

Conversely, edge grain cutting boards may wear down your knives relatively faster. 

It is relatively easier to leave a cut mark on an edge grain cutting board, as it is not resistant to sharp knife edges. 

If your blade edge is razor-sharp on a regular basis and you don’t want to leave any marks, consider opting for an end grain butcher block for minimal damage.

Furthermore, end grain boards are warp-resistant due to their construction, offering a longer lifespan. 

However, they may require more maintenance, including periodic oiling to ensure longevity. 

Edge grain cutting boards typically demand less maintenance.

Personal Preference

When choosing between end grain and edge grain cutting boards, personal preference plays a significant role. 

Some individuals may prioritize:

  • Aesthetics: End grain boards often have intricate patterns and designs, making them visually appealing and Instagram-worthy.
  • Budget: Those on a tighter budget may opt for the edge grain cutting boards, which offer decent quality at a lower price point.
  • Maintenance: For those who prefer low-maintenance cutting boards, edge grain boards may be more suitable.

The choice between end grain and edge grain cutting boards depends on your budget, preferences for maintenance, and aesthetics. 

Consider these factors to determine which type is the best fit for your specific needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

cutting board with food on it

Pros and Cons Comparison

End Grain Cutting Boards:

  • Pros:
    • Gentler on knife blades due to open wood-cell structure
    • More durable and warp-resistant, often thicker
  • Cons:
    • More expensive, often 4 to 15 times costlier than edge grain cutting boards
    • Requires more maintenance, such as the application of food-grade mineral oil

Edge Grain Cutting Boards:

  • Pros:
    • Cheaper than end grain cutting boards
    • Low-maintenance, requiring less frequent conditioning with mineral oil
    • More water-resistant compared to end grain cutting boards
  • Cons:
    • Can dull knives faster due to their compact structure
    • Less resistant to damage, may accumulate cut marks, affecting aesthetics

Choosing the Right Cutting Board

When choosing between end grain and edge grain cutting boards, consider your personal preferences and usage patterns. 

Some factors to keep in mind:

  • Budget: If you prefer a more affordable option, an edge grain cutting board is the better choice.
  • Maintenance: End grain cutting boards require more frequent care, consider your willingness to perform such tasks. A good cutting board for those who don’t want the hassle that comes with high maintenance is the edge grain.
  • Knife health: If preserving the sharpness of your knives is a priority, opt for an end grain cutting board.
  • Aesthetics: Consider how important the appearance of your cutting board is, as edge grain boards may accumulate more visible cut marks.
  • Material: It’s advisable to avoid softwoods like pine, as they are less durable and more prone to bacteria growth in the long term. Choose hardwoods like maple or walnut for better performance.

Take your preferences, budget, and usage into account when choosing between end grain and edge grain cutting boards. 

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so opt for the one that best suits your needs.

Tips to Remember

End grain cutting boards are often preferred for their ability to maintain sharp knives, as they offer the most durable surface for heavy-duty tasks such as butchering and carving. 

The unique construction of end grain boards allows the knife to sink into the fibers, reducing pressure and wear on the blade. 

Similar to flat grain boards, end grain cutting boards are beautiful in their design and appearance, as well as sturdy to use.  

Additionally, end grain boards are suitable for working with raw meat on butcher countertops, and are ideal for working with juicier ingredients due to their better absorption capacities.

On the other hand, edge grain cutting boards have a lower initial cost, making them a more affordable option for many households.

They are functional and visually appealing, making them a popular choice for food presentation and appetizer platters

However, they tend to dull knives faster than end grain boards due to the surface grain orientation and may require more frequent resurfacing to maintain their appearance.

When it comes to maintenance, edge grain boards are considered low maintenance compared to end grain boards, which require extra steps, such as more care and attention, to avoid cracking or warping. 

Seasoning both types of boards with food-grade mineral oil or beeswax can help prolong their longevity and maintain their aesthetics.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much difference between the two boards regarding material choices. 

Hardwoods such as hard maple are the most common wood for both end grain and edge grain cutting boards due to their durability and ability to withstand repeated use and pressure.

In comparison, many users choose between these cutting board styles based on personal preferences and specific usage goals, as each cutting board is great for different things.

Remember that the right cutting boards must be able to meet your needs in the kitchen in order to be effective. 

Ultimately, whether you choose an end grain or edge grain cutting board, the best way to make the right choice is to prioritize your needs, such as functionality, durability, and overall performance in your kitchen when buying a new cutting board. 

end grain cutting board vs edge grain Pinterest image

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