Face Grain, Edge Grain, or End Grain? What is the best use for each?

There are stark aesthetic and physical characteristic distinctions between different woodcuts. For anyone looking to start his/her own woodwork project, these key differences must be understood.

Face Grain

Face grain is what you'd normally see on the "outside" of the board. It is where you see most of the grain and beauty of a piece of wood. Woodworkers typically use the face grain to make table tops or panels that you might see on cupboard doors. Although face grain fully showcases the striking natural beauty of the wood grain, it is more susceptible to bruises of daily use. It will show knife marks faster than edge grain or end grain boards and is not recommended for heavy chopping use.

Edge Grain

Edge grain is the "side" of the board. It usually displays tighter and more linear wood grain. Edge grain boards will be tougher and more durable than a face grain board. It requires less upkeep as the grains of the wood are not exposed to the elements. It will soak up less moisture, making it less likely to warp or crack if not oiled regularly.

End Grain

End grain is the grain of wood seen when it is cut across the growth rings. Rather than cutting a plank of wood the length of the trunk, end grain wood is actually cut at a 90-degree angle to the grain. This type of cut exposes the character of the wood rings and gaining. End grain patterns are unpredictable and can be difficult to match or replicate, creating a more unique, one of a kind aspect.