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Thread: End-Grain Cutting Board Failure

  1. #1

    End-Grain Cutting Board Failure

    I've made two simple boards..... Maple & Walnut.... Tightbond III glue. Both soaked in mineral oil, but not waxed.

    Both abused by the end-users.

    The first, while lightly used and oiled somewhat regularly, was found floating in the sink. It had a pretty bad warp to it, but after drying out, it returned to about 95% flatness. I could probably flatten it with my drum sander in the shop. It's in pretty good shape, but does show a very slight failure on a glue line. (almost indistinguishable)

    The second board is a much different story, and is pictured below. It was likely never oiled, used heavily, and probably left wet on the counter. It wouldn't surprise me if it ran through the dishwasher, but I don't know? They're maybe a year old.

    What surprises me is the failure on the glue joints. From reading some similar posts on this forum, I am thinking that maybe it was too much clamping pressure with the TBIII ? I generally clamp pretty heavily, not really thinking about glue creep.

    Any thoughts????

    Last edited by John G Walter; 09-21-2021 at 4:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Doesn't surprise me. For what I read it is rated as waterproof, but not for continued submersion. You want to use epoxy if you want it bomb proof, and then you do need a wider glue line. And by reading I mean from actual users and not Franklin data.

  3. #3
    It's not glue starvation, that's a myth. Simply, the glue joint is an obvious fault line in the structure. Imagine tearing off a paper towel. They have a strong tendency to tear at the separation, because it's easiest for a tear to begin there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So Cal
    I use titebond 3 on end grain cutting boards I also thin it down a bit because I donít like glue lines poking up after some use. Iíve not oiled any of my boards since they went into service.
    I donít let my boards sit in water and dry them after washing.
    My guess is the walnut has been getting really wet and left to dry naturally.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Princeton, NJ
    Blog Entries
    Sounds like the user needs more info on how to care for a cutting board.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Sounds like the user needs more info on how to care for a cutting board.
    Or they need to buy plastic ones.

  7. #7
    I have made many cutting boards and.... I'm ashamed to admit....that after the initial oiling I never get around to oiling them again. They see plenty of water but never sit in it for long. I always use the brown Gorilla Glue when gluing them up and have boards in the kitchen that have been used daily for close to 10 years and I have never had a glue joint come apart.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    If it actually went through the dishwasher it's no wonder some glue joints opened up TB III has really poor performance at 140 F. Add some stress from water swelling the wood followed by heated drying and you have the perfect recipe for failure.


  9. #9
    The glue is waterproof. My guess is that wood was not.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Edmonton, Canada
    I am not surprised the glue has failed. I dont think TB-III is as strong and water resistant many think it is.
    Have seen it fail in similar situations.

  11. #11
    Have seen the same failure in end grain cutting boards in better condition than the boards in the photos. It can happen quickly when the surface treatment has worn away and a small portion of the board, particularly along the edge, is subjected to prolonged dampness, e.g., half of a tomato or lemon sitting wet side down on the board overnight. The natural acid in the fruit juice probably weakens the glue bond while the localized grain expansion pulls the joint apart. Film finishes like Wood Bowl Finish or Salad Bowl Finish by General Finishes protect better than mineral oil, but it will still be necessary to refinish every 6-12 months depending on use. You might be able to put enough clamping pressure on to re-glue those joints but the repair will be noticeable. Epoxy has better water resistance than TBIII but is more brittle. Haven't used polyurethane glue much so not sure about the Gorilla Glue somebody else uses. Anyway, because the failure is along the edge where it always seems to happen, glue starvation probably isn't the problem.

  12. #12
    Perhaps it is the difference in the wood movement between the walnut (radial 5.5 tangential 8.8 t/r ratio 1.4) and maple (radial 4.8 tangential 9.9 t/r ratio 1.9) causing a failure on the weakest point….

  13. #13
    A lot of good responses here. Thank you all.

    My take-away is that abuse is probably NOT the cause. I would think that the 'average user' would not care for them any differently than any other type of board. I suspect that the fault lies in a couple of areas. First, the walnut probably moved more than the maple when wet. Second, the very small glue surface (compared to an edge-grain board) allowed for an easier joint failure. Solutions..... first, the walnut border is probably not the best design, and second, experiment with different glues and techniques.
    Last edited by John G Walter; 09-22-2021 at 8:59 AM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    If it actually went through the dishwasher it's no wonder some glue joints opened up TB III has really poor performance at 140 F. Add some stress from water swelling the wood followed by heated drying and you have the perfect recipe for failure.



    Lots of dishwashers use steam to kill bacteria. As we all know, steam can be much hotter than the boiling point of water. The testing requirement for TB3 only goes up to the boiling point of water, so right away, we have a red flag which makes clear that the glue could have been subjected to temperatures beyond what it is rated to handle.

    Compound that with the thermal and moisture expansion stressing those joints from the heat and water as John mentioned and yeah, I can't imagine an environment more likely to cause glue joint failure than a dishwasher.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    My $0.02.
    I also made a walnut/maple end grain cutting board but I framed mine with red oak, long grain around the board (break all the rules yes) biscuited in the board and splined at the 45 corners. I chamfered the board and the frame for a blood groove. Originally I used pure mineral oil (medical grade) and applied several coats. The boards never seemed to stop absorbing it. The boards see daily use. The MO seemed to do absolutely nothing to protect the board. As you mentioned, my kids left it soaking overnight in water and yes it warped. As you mentioned it also became almost flat after drying. Ran it through the drum sander. to flatten. I use TB I. The glue while NOT waterproof did not fail. This was probably 10 years ago. I still have them and they still see daily use. After the re-flattening I now use Wipe on Poly. Since then I've sanded and refinished the board again. No blood groove though. Running it through a dishwasher will probably make TB I melt and fall apart.
    Bottom line, I have had a failure using TB III, I know people who have had TB III failures, so I don't use it much anymore. I do use it outdoors where glue failure is not a problem. I completely trust TB I.
    Just my opinions........

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