End Grain VS Edge Grain (or Face Grain or Long Grain)

Bullet Points

  • End Grain keeps your knife sharper longer
  • End Grain is more susceptible to bowing, contraction and expansion without regular treatment
  • Long Grain (aka Edge or Face Grain) is very durable
  • Don't buy plastic, okay?  And don't cut on glass or ceramic.  Chrimmety, cut on plastic before that.

So you've done your research, and you've gone into the depths of various forums and you're finding there's just too much information about something as seemingly simple as cutting boards.  Well, let's expedite this for you, hm?

But before we do, let's address a common question... what's long grain?  We use this term instead of edge grain or face grain.  For what we're making, it doesn't make much difference and more importantly we find that edge and end just sound and look too similar for people quickly browsing the web or explaining it in person.  That's why we've adopted the term Long Grain.

Okay, so what's the deal?  End Grain is wherever you can see the tree rings.  The other sides, that's Long Grain.  The conventional wisdom is that End Grain is better for your knife's edge and Long Grain is more economical

Why?  Thick of the wood fibers that make up wood like bristles on a brush.  On Long Grain, it's like the brush is lying left to right, and you're chopping those fibers in half.  On End Grain, you're actually cutting between the wood fibers, keeping the board sharper longer and making it easier to clean and thus more sanitary.  That's all definitely true however I'd like to throw you a few situations where the answer, you'll find, really depends on your usage.

1. You cook occasionally, and even when you do, you don't necessarily use a cutting board.  Generally, you'll find this kind of person has a long grain board, and it makes sense because the user only periodically uses the knife and block.

2. You cook most nights, and your knife is your best friend.  Maybe you have kitchen gadgets, maybe you don't, but you know that your knife is going to do everything you need it to, and any gadgetry is just a cherry on top.  Few will have a Long Grain board, and many will have an End Grain cutting board.  Sorry, scratch that--you probably have multiples of each, but your End Grain is your go-to, must-have for making dinner.  

3. You are a butcher and chop 8 hours a day, if not more, for 7 days a week.  Like most butcher shops, you might have an end grain piece but mostly likely only one and it is about a foot or more thick.  But if you check out the work surfaces in the butcher shop, you'll see that in terms of surface area, Long Grain has End Grain beat.
"But wait, why?  It seems that the more serious about cooking you are, the more likely you are to own and use an End Grain butcher block?"
Up to a point, yes.  But the butcher needs to sharpen their knives regardless. They're just cutting so much, that the wood grain really isn't going to change the day-to-day dullness so much so that the butcher could say, "eh, I'll skip sharpening my knife."