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Thread: Surfacing End Grain Cutting Boards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Ames, IA
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    534

    Surfacing End Grain Cutting Boards

    I'm intrigued about making some end grain cutting boards. However, most of the utubes I watched put the boards through a drum sander for surfacing. I don't have a drum sander. I have a thickness planer, but that, given it's equipped with standard blades, isn't recommended. I have belt sanders, hand-held and floor model. I thought about a hand held electric planer (I don't have one at present). Does anyone suggest a good way to surface these other than a drum sander? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    SE Pennsylvania- Chester County
    Posts
    58
    I've sent my end grain cutting boards through the planer before with no issues, but ymmv. If you do, take very light passes and glue a sacrificial board to the back end. Other than that, try to make sure everything is as lined up as possible, clear squeezeout before its dry, etc., and go to town with a ROS.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    New Westminster BC
    Posts
    1,685
    I've only made two end grain cutting boards, if you do a good job of alignment when doing the glue up it's not that hard to flatten with a hand held belt sander or ROS. Not sure why so many are hung up on making the surfaces perfectly flat, it's a cutting board, slight imperfections really don't affect it's functionality or looks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    39
    I 've make alot of end grain cutting boards. I have run them thru the planer until I had 1 fly back at me. Since then I use a belt sander or drum sander. If you do use a planer I agree with adding a sacraficial board to the back. Mike O'Keefe

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    893
    Not an expert, but took a class on making end grain cutting boards once. The instructor mentioned some of the hazards of the different machine options and that he avoided them by using a hand plane. He used a low-angle jointer plane to great effect. (I'd bet a LA jack would work well too.) Since he was careful about alignment there was really very little material to remove and, OK he was a young guy, it didn't look like too much work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    1,525
    This is one application where a Rotex shines. I have done them with belt sanders and used a drum sander on the last one I did. The drum sander tried to burn it and put some very deep scratches in it, so need to troubleshoot that, or could be operator error.

    A Rotex with 80 or 120 Grit is where I start. I also wipe off all squeeze out that I can and use parallel clamps instead of pipe clamps.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Posts
    612
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael W. Clark View Post
    This is one application where a Rotex shines. I have done them with belt sanders and used a drum sander on the last one I did. The drum sander tried to burn it and put some very deep scratches in it, so need to troubleshoot that, or could be operator error.

    A Rotex with 80 or 120 Grit is where I start. I also wipe off all squeeze out that I can and use parallel clamps instead of pipe clamps.
    This is how I do them also. Careful glue up to keep things aligned and 80 grit Rubin to start out at.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    873
    I have a byrd head planer, and i still dislike planing end grain boards. It has a tendency to blow out the back of the cut quite a bit, and it tears out the surface of the board. Its one thing if your glue ups are off by something crazy like 1/8", but if you have slight ridges between your glueup, then i suggest sticking to a sander. Thats my 2 cents. Its certainly possible to plane end grain in light cuts, but it can cause more harm than benefit.

    Drum sander is certainly easier. However, i found 60-80 grit on my double drum sander would leave scratches that were difficult to ROS out. Not to mention the occasional burning. I sold my drum sander, but it was similar to the planer in that the results werent always worth the effort.

    I make a handful of boards a year, but i used to make a ton to pay for tools and i think it comes down to your final glue up. Its hyper critical your end grain crosscuts be dead nuts on to one another. Im about to make an odd statement, but i believe my sliding table saw to be more efficient in processing end grain boards than my supermax 37x2 drum sander was. One of my first commissions after setting up my used KF700 was a large end grain walnut island. It was like 4-6' long and 3ish wide, but more importantly, super thick around 6". One, that project nearly paid for the machine on its own, and two, it was immensely eye-opening after having made 100 end grain pieces prior to using the Felder. Between the slider and the domino, that final glue up was excellent.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    56,616
    If you have a belt sander, that will do a similar job to using a drum sander. Just have the workpiece locked down well. Once it's fully level and on the way to smooth, you can use your ROS to take over and run up through the finer and finer abrasives.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Belt sander is fine or the grown up version a stroke sander. Simple work on a stroke sander.

  11. #11
    Cutting boards dull knives quickly when they have been sanded. To test ,run knife over an unsanded board a few times . Hard to not notice
    how much longer it will stay sharp. Those beautiful multi piece boards are for hanging on the wall !

  12. #12
    Mel, what you said in my mind as i typed. ive said before not to machine stuff after its been sanded old guy taught us that 40 years ago. Embedded grit. I guess I draw the line at a kitchen knife, I usually hone knives fast before I use them

  13. #13
    I have used a router sled (like for flattening a slab but smaller) followed by a sander. It worked fairly well.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Burlington, Washington
    Posts
    62
    I run my end grain cutting boards through my planer with a byrd head. But, I round over the edges with a 3/8 radius router bit before doing so, which removes the chance of blowout. And I take very slight cuts each time.

  15. #15
    Glue a sacrificial long-grain piece on the edge(s) to avoid blowout when running through the planer.

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