Grain, grain everywhere
and not a one to eat.
Every piece of lumber has 3 different grain directions on it...face grain, side grain, and end grain. Side grain and face grain are very similar, but depending on how the log was cut into lumber, they can be very different.
Face grain is the most beautiful and desirable in furniture making because you can see the grain patterns, and in some cases, the different figure patterns in the wood. Again, side grain is very similar to face grain, but because it is on the thinner side of the lumber,
the grain patterns are not as distinguishable.
End grain is very fiberous ends of the lumber that are usually a bit rougher feeling than the face and side grain. When it comes to furniture making, end grain is usually not a very desirable side of the lumber and is usually avoided visually with exception being granted to dovetailed drawers and other accents. But despite not being the best face for furniture making, the fiberous nature lends itself perfectly to cutting boards. The fibers act as "straws" that allow the knife blade to enter the wood in a manor that is easier on your knives and will help prolong their sharpness. Those fibers will also retract back to their original locations once the knife blade is removed from the wood. The wood fibers are also extremely less likely to break and flake away from the cutting board.
End grain boards that are properly maintained will truly stand up to long term and heavy usage, and will last for generations.
This is not to say that the face grain boards we sell should not be used for cutting. We prefer to label the face grain boards as meat and cheese boards, but they are perfectly capable of being used for cutting. Over the long term, and with heavy use, face grain boards will show more wear than the end grain boards, but they most definitely will work for cutting.
For some added encouragement that end grain boards are superior when it comes to cutting, look closely at the board used by your favorite Television Celebrity Chef. They almost always use end grain boards.