How to Make an End-Grain Cutting Board
TOH general contractor Tom Silva, with help from TOH TV host Kevin O’Connor, transforms a single piece of scrap pine into a handsome, useful butcher block
A working shop generates lots of scrap wood, most of which is usually too small and common for anything except kindling. But occasionally, a piece calls out for special attention, like the slab of salvaged heart pine left over from a bench that Tom and Kevin had built earlier. Heart pine is the heartwood of longleaf pine, a tree prized for its strength, rich color, and hardness. Sadly, overharvesting has driven the species to near extinction; the wood that is available today comes from lumber pulled out of old buildings or logs fished from rivers.
Shown: This Old House contractor Tom Silva (left) and TOH host Kevin O’Connor admire their butcher-block cutting board, a 10-by-17-by-2-inch slab made from a plank of longleaf pine.
Tom’s plan was to slice this rough-sawn scrap into strips and assemble them into a cutting board with the wood grain running vertically. This creates an attractive mosaic that also serves a practical purpose. “On edge-grain cutting boards, every knife nick shows,” Tom says. “But when a knife blade hits end grain, the fibers separate. The board is undamaged and the blade stays sharp.” Even better, the pine’s high resin content makes it naturally antibacterial.
You can pay $100 or more for a similar end-grain cutting board. Or spend a few enjoyable hours in the shop building your own one-of-a-kind piece. If that sounds like an appealing use of your time, just follow the steps ahead.