End grain cutting board

I’ve been making end grain cutting boards for years, but this was the first time I had one to make and I had an MPCNC machine. Since this was a wedding present, I got a picture of the napkin they used and carved this into the underside of the board. I was a tad concerned about carving into end grain, but it worked very well.

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MPCNC 24x24" DW660

Inkscape and ESTLCAM

Thanks Ryan and the MPCNC Forum!


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That’s awesome! I have been doing inlays into edge grain cuttingboards and want to try end grain but I worry about how an end mill will do. Do you use a drum sander and are the white joints glue or wood?


I think the end mill will work fine cutting into the end grain board, but I don’t think it would cut the inlay portion well if it is detailed. Big block letters would work, but given how the grain is orientated, the wood fibers would tear as you get more detailed. If you are doing edge or long grain inlay, I don’t see an issue.

I use a drum sander and it saves me a ton of time and ensures the board is flat. After the drum at 80 grit, I sand out the drum sander marks with 80, then 120, then 220.

This board is all maple, so no additional wood at the joints, but I do a walnut and maple simulating a brick lay or subway tile pattern.[attachment file=“MPCNC - 1 (9).jpg”]

Can you tell me how you do your inlay. I can’t find a defined process for ESTLCAM yet.


I use inkscape to layout my design then use estlcam to cut holes and parts to 6mm deep. My first bit is a 1/32 end mill .5mm d.o.c. at 10mm/s then depending on how intricate it is I step up to a 1/16 or 1/8 end mill to clean out the pocket. I like beefy cutting boards so I start with a 1 3/4" slab. After the pockets are cut I use a 1/8 x 3" 4 flute end mill at 24mm/s to cut the outline of the board. Any less than 3 flutes cause too much chatter in the longer bits and they break. I plane my inlay material to 6mm and use opposite cuts with a 1/32" bit to create the inlay, the inlays are usually pretty tight and need pressed in then I plane everything level.

Thanks Josh,

In ESTLCAM are you using the same line, cutting a part for the inlay and hole for the cutting board? I was always thinking I would cut the inlay upside down and turn in over into the part in the board… Do you have to prepare the inlay in anyway or does it just fit tightly (as you said) into the board.

Could you share a pic of your work?

Yes, I cut a pocket with the hole function then use the same line and cut a part, no need to flip anything. The only cleanup is the holding tabs and I keep them minimal around .5mm wide by 1.5mm tall. I might try to figure out how to do some type of instructional something rather with inkscape this weekend.

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There can be small gaps but overall it’s way better than I could do by hand

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Thanks Josh,

Beautiful work!

Now I’m ready to try it.

I appreciate it and yes, a tutorial would (or wood) be great!




How are you dealing with the gaps?

  • filling with slivers of wood
  • off the shelf filler
  • sawdust from the wood mixed with glue

Just sawdust and wood glue. I forgot to tell you that I offset the lines 1/16" just to be sure the 1/8" bit doesnt get to the outside edge.

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So you offset your line in Inkscape?


Yes, in one of the drop downs there is a linked or dynamic offset. I make an offset to the inside of the cut to keep lines crisp.

Thanks and this makes perfect sense. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work without some sort of offset, but was willing to try it.

Have you thought about a process where the base portion of the cut (hole portion) is carved with a slight angle (60 degree or 90 degree bit) and the design portion (the part) is carved with the same slight angle (same bit). This would cause the ‘part’ piece to be flipped over into the ‘hole’ piece, but the angled (as a V into a V) pieces would fit tightly as clamping was applied. I woke up at 2 in the morning thinking about this and want to give it a try at some point. Especially since ESTLCAM has a flip vertical and flip horizontal (but Inkscape has this too).

I haven’t tried your method yet and will, but keep thinking that this method would yield less patching… maybe not, so looking for your input. Any thoughts?


I have seen other people talking about doing it this way, I have not tried it. I feel I get clean enough results as it is. My other concern is when you sand them down you lose detail. I make my inlays as deep as possible so they can be refinished over and over.

Thanks Josh,

I agree with your point about re-surfacing boards. You should be able to do that over and over with your process.

Thanks again!