124 – How to Fix a Cracked or Split Cutting Board

124 – How to Fix a Cracked or Split Cutting Board


Marc:The Wood Whisperer
is brought to you by POWERMATIC the gold standard since 1921, and by Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, Create with Confidence. Without a doubt the end
grain cutting board is the most popular project here
at the Wood Whisperer. So I feel it’s my
responsibility to let you know what could happen
to your boards if they’re mistreated, and what you can do about it. So here’s a little story in pictures. A few weeks ago I woke up and noticed a major crack in my cutting board. How in the world did this happen? I turned the board over and found a small wet spot in the center. It must have been trapped
there for a couple days, and the result was disastrous. I took the board into the
shop to survey the damage. The crack was easily an eighth of an inch at its widest point, and the
bow was a solid quarter inch. I thought the board was
trash so I just put it on my workbench and left
it alone for a while. Well low and behold, two
weeks later the moister left the board and the crack
nearly sealed itself up again. Not only that, but the
board was flat again too. With so little space for glue though, the real trick was figuring
out how to do the repair. Well here’s what I did,
I started by placing blue tape around the wound,
just to minimize the clean up. I then poured a generous
amount of epoxy over the crack. The epoxy was too viscous to
simply drip into the crack, so using a trick that I learned years ago, I pulled my Shop-Vac over and carefully applied suction from below. You could see the crater
that’s left behind as the glue is pulled all
the way into the board. Now you have to keep an
eye on the underside. When you see the epoxy coming through, you could stop applying
suction in that area. Now it’s time for the clamps I not only clamped across the joint, but I used two small
clamps to hold the board down flat to the bar of the outer clamp. The joint closed up very nicely. The next day I had a
little scraping to do, and honestly a card scraper was just built for a task like this. With the glue and tape removed, you can see that it was a
pretty effective repair. I gave the board a light
sanding with 220 grit, and a fresh coat of thin varnish. My boards are already sealed with varnish, many of you guys know
the technique that I use. So they don’t absorb all
that much at this point. The final result is a renewed
board that’s ready for action. Boy am I glad I didn’t throw it away. So, the moral to the story,
make sure there’s no standing water under your boards or simply install some rubber feet on the bottom.

100 comments / Add your comment below

  1. @LFWOL CA doesn't have a whole lot of structural integrity and doesn't do a great job at gap filling. Epoxy is a little better in both regards.

  2. @BikeManDan1 I used Arm-R-Seal, which is not labeled as "food safe". But I am of the belief that any film finish is food safe once completely cured.

  3. Thanks for the ideas .. i thinkin that pattern would make an excellent electric guitar body .. i will have to do somemore research ..

  4. When you said that the epoxy is too viscous to simply drip down into the crack, do you mean that the epoxy is not viscous enough to simply drip down into the crack (I'm not being pedantic here, I'm just trying to make sure I understand. 🙂

    Also, the best part about wood are the crazy undefined ways it can behave. The worst part about wood, however, are the crazy undefined ways in which it can behave. Thanks for the videos, wood whisperer. Cheers.

  5. @TheScientist0000000 Nope. Meant it exactly as I said it. The epoxy is too viscous to simply drip into the crack. Thinner liquids have a lower viscosity and thicker liquids have a higher viscosity. In other works, the epoxy is too thick to drip into the crack. Make sense?

  6. @TheWoodWhisperer OhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh….. Sorry, I miss heard you. I was thinking that the problem was that the epoxy was TOO thick and gummy, but instead it is in fact not too gummy enough. Believe it or not, it makes more senser now. Thank you my friend.

  7. I honestly don't remember clicking on this video but i watched it all the way through. and i'm not into wood working (if thats what its called) but i bet in like a few years i will randomly have to repair a cutting board to save somebody's life or something and now i will know how. Thank you sir.

  8. @calypsobomber "food safe sealer" doesn't really mean much. Mineral Oil can be sold as a food safe sealer. What specific product are you talking about?

  9. @calypsobomber Yeah despite the FDA approval, that's just another type of long oil varnish. It contains the same resins and solvents found in any regular varnish.

  10. @kburke18 Well it is hard to say for sure but that certainly could have been a factor. The board absorbed excess moisture in one localized area. Even if the board were made from only one species, this would have been bad news. But under normal usage conditions, these woods are fairly stable together.

  11. do you caulk a maple cabinet door, to paint it? My friend did… and there is a 1/8" crack betwin the frame and the panel? do you think the wood is expandidng, or you just not supous to caulk maple??????

  12. @Cuautemoccc Personally I wouldn't use caulk for repairing a wooden door. Caulk is flexible and wood isn't. I would use epoxy or a wood filler instead.

  13. Good repair…

    Two thoughts which came to mind…

    1) End grain Board must be made with woods that are all equal in moisture.
    2) End Grain boards must never rest flat on a surface, I usually pit feet or a runner under each side to keep air on all 4 sides.

    If you want them to lay flat, then they need to be picked up and allowed to air on all sides when not in use.

  14. When you varnish your boards do you just varnish the top and sides? Is that why the water found a way into the board. Or was it varnished top and bottom and the water got throught the varnish through persistence?

  15. The board is varnished on all sides. But after sitting on a wet spot for several days, there's only so much you can do. Ultimately the wood will absorb it.

  16. Probably not a great idea. The board needs to expand and contract and gluing it to an immobile substrate would definitely cause issues. Also, I'm having trouble imagining any way to make that look attractive.

  17. Not only that, I think the plywood would have de-lamination issues, as cutting boards are often washed.

    Using a bread-board on all 4 sides that is attached via a sliding dovetail seems to work OK for me. However, I don't glue them on. I use pegs and slotted holes in the pin to allow for some expansion/contraction. I've yet to have one crack or warp, and my father's lives over one side of his kitchen sink, so you know it gets wet often.

  18. I put rubber feet on my cutting boards. First I used some small hardware store ones that I had sitting in a closet, but the built-in glue didn't stick well enough to handle vigorous cutting action. In the end, I used a hole saw on some thin stock to make little round feet, and glued bicycle inner tube bits to the bottom with contact cement. Trim off the excess rubber and glue those with wood glue to the board for some great sturdy feet.

  19. Problem is there's a distinct design here. You can't cut it and glue it back up without making it look odd. Of course you could just remove one row of blocks if you don't mind changing the dimensions of the board, but I didn't want to do that. Also, I use varnish on all of my boards. Works great and it's non-toxic when cured.

  20. I make endgrain tables + boards + tend to use epoxy as waterbased glues expand + contract too much. I make the endgrain section + then using epoxy again add a layer underneath of timber running lengthways to give the surface strength. This works well on cutting boards but you need to treat the surface with a waterproofer, to enhance timbers natural anti bacterial properties I dont seal them rather I use a gum turps/ bees wax mix + melt it onto the surface using a heat gun in layers. works well

  21. My wife is redesigning the kitchen featuring copper and copper colors. I'd love to give her a cutting board using copper in the design. Any thoughts on working with copper sheeting or inlay on a board like this? ie, cutting, sanding, finishing?

  22. Interesting idea. I don't work with metal much other than using metal dowel rods once in a while, so I might not be the best person to ask

  23. A copper band around the perimeter of cutting board would add some nice contrast whilst giving the impression that it's holding the pack of blocks togethers. You could inset it into the edge by routing a channel in the cutting block and possibly even make the copper "belt" in sections held together with copper rivets.

    Just a suggestion. I hope the project goes well 🙂

  24. After seing this video, I just added small feet to my board, using 1/4" wooden dowels about 1/4" proud. Works great for the moisture issue and makes the board easier to pick up!

  25. I have same problem withmy oud (String instument) and the crack in the neck of the instrument. is your crack solving will fix MY instrument? please notice that the pull of Strings are so strong – it seems like the strongth of propubly100 Lbs pulling down … kind regards –Ahmed

  26. I don't see why it wouldn't work. But if the crack is with the grain, you might be able to just use wood glue and clamp it together.

  27. My roommate makes protein shakes constantly, I keep my board right by his blender and he started letting the pitcher drip dry onto it, I didn't mind until this same thing happened!! Not quite as bad, pooling water on top trapped inside a pitcher. I will try this technique thanks 🙂

  28. I also have some 3/4" stainless rod I will inset and come out about a 1/4" for feet to keep it up off the counter.

  29. Thank you for the video's, I would have never thought to use a shop vac to pull epoxy through the crack. Keep up the good work!

  30. Guitar strings typically are only pulling around 13 – 17 lbs.
    Use Titebond wood glue to repair the neck. All my best…

  31. Ok. I used to watch woodworks back in the day the blanket chest he did with the purpleheart base now would that get darker over time too??

  32. You can reduce the viscosity of (some) epoxies by heating them with a heat gun. One would think it would make it set faster, but it only makes it thinner. I found this out when I wanted to make some epoxy set faster.

  33. I've been wondering if this kind of a cutting board can be put into oven for disinfection without cracking it? Chefs use this trick to kill the bacteria in the deep knife cuts on the board (it's the reason why wooden cutting boards are preferred over plastic ones). When one uses more than just one material in creating the board, the problem is that these materials have different coefficients of thermal expansion. So are these just display pieces or can you actually use one?

  34. I would never put a cutting board that I cared about into the dishwasher or the oven. The board won't last very long with that kind of treatment. And as you mention, a board with two different woods is even more likely to have major issues with an oven treatment. With wooden boards in the home, I'd say it's best to avoid that all together.

  35. You can disinfect with dilute vinegar or dilute bleach solutions. There's even a method involving rubbing the surface with salt. If you feel you need more disinfection than what the wood naturally provides, those are reasonable options. Soap and water is a great way to prevent bacteria from building up in the first place.

  36. If you are concerned about bacteria perhaps you should avoid using a wood cutting board for raw meat. I have a commercial plastic board I only use for raw meat. They can go in the dishwasher. My wood boards can stay out out on the counter to be used for low risk foods; fruit, veggies, bread, cheese, ect. While my plastic boards are stored away out of sight. Best of both worlds and it minimizes the risk of cross contamination.

  37. That's a nice idea.. and one that's recommended anyway, if I'm correct.
    One for each: beef, pork, fish, chicken and veggies. But that might be too much 😛

  38. Personally I wouldn't use a cutting board which is glued, varnished or treated with epoxy because these are toxic substances going into the food if one cuts on it. These toxins are partly deposited in the body and stay there because they don't break down completely (e.g. like plastic molecules). Just a plain wooden board is the right thing for cutting food since knifes were invented. A cutting board is a working part in a kitchen and doesn't have to last for years.

  39. I recently ordered a hinoki cypress cutting board.  When it arrived from Japan, I noticed a bit of a gap in between where two pieces were glued together, about 3/4" long and very narrow.  The gap does not extend to the edge of the board, but it does extend to the other side of the board (it's narrower on the other side too).  Should I follow this procedure to repair it?

  40. Is the epoxy food safe? I just noticed a small crack in my cutting board from lack of oiling it (shame on me). I have since oiled it and am letting it dry, but I'd like to fill the crack with something so it doesn't collect bacteria. That said, I also don't have access to a wood shop and a bunch of tools. 

  41. interesting from a couple of viewpoints.  What glue is safe for food?  What varnish is safe for food?  What dynamics were at work here?  Interesting that you had the forethought to clamp against the clamp, as they say.  Excellent job.  Kudos.  

  42. Hi,

    I saw some other woodworking guy applying the most liquid form of CA glue to a crack.

    Wouldn't that be applicable in this situation as well? It looked a bit simpler in my layman eyes. But I'm not a real woodworker.

    EDIT: This one:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZd65PVd-0A

    I hope to hear from you.

  43. Moral of the story is one should never you varnish with food preparation tools… True oil and canola oil will go rancid so use a blend of pharmaceutical mineral oil (paraffin oil ) mixed with beeswax or carnauba wax, this is completely non toxic and will seal and protect the board for many years to come.

  44. Or use camphor wood which is naturally rich in antibacterial and antiviral oil and you will never have to worry about cracks or contamination..

  45. Question, would that work on a IKEA birch cutting board counter top. The manufacturer of IKEA birch cutting board counter top, did not use hardly no glue, or bad glue. And it's cracking at the seams.

  46. Very nice job repairing ur cutting board.
    I use rubber slip resistant feet on all of cutting board builds. Raising them up nearly 1/2"
    Love ur channel bud

  47. I have a large old wood bowl that was dropped and cracked with a nice size piece just waiting to fall off. How in the world do I repair this so that it is strong and beautiful again?

  48. what is the advantage of using epoxy over the same wood glue used during original construction? Is it because the wood is "sealed" due to original finish?

  49. Epoxy and varnish? This goes against the "food safe" rules. Would you want to slice your fresh salad up on a cutting board that has varnish on it and possibly get varnish peels in there? Kind of gives it that fresh crude oil flavor. Yum!

  50. I built this board a few years ago as my first real woodworking project. Not long ago, my wife sat a big cardboard box of mushrooms atop the board for a day or two and it wound up bowing like a cowboy's legs. Fortunately, it did not crack…but it never did flatten out completely. So yeah, keep the water away from the board!

  51. Since moving in together, my boyfriend has broken a few of my kitchen items. Some I don't care about and others……well, lets say that's why I'm here. He split my prized vintage English cutting board. It's round with the word Bread on it. Without consulting me, he used plain old white glue and put it back together. I noticed this of course. When the glue dried, it expanded and stayed white and my board now had a big gap in it and I could see the glue. I split it in half again and the glue is just sitting there waiting to be sanded off before I decide how to proceed. It won't fit back together once I sand it so what would you recommend? I'm in Los Angeles so if you can advise on what to do or who to go to, I would like to repair this board. Thanks!

  52. I have a large (5.5ft x 3.5ft) end grain board that's broken in half…too embarrassing to explain. My question is, since the exposed faces to be re-attached have oil in certain areas I'm skeptical that epoxy will bond to those areas and that the Type 3 glue I used will face the same problem. This piece has taken FOREVER to make. I have now entered the dreaded Money Losing Phase and simply want to finish and deliver to the client. Any advice might help me to sleep again. THX.

  53. You could make the exact same repair with standard wood glue, and then it would still be food safe. I have also only ever used mineral oil, and sometimes a food-safe oil/wax blend on cutting boards. If you apply several liberal coats of mineral oil until the board is saturated, this is also an effective way to repel water.

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