Can I flatten an End Grain Cutting Board with a CNC?

Can Face, Edge or End Grain Cutting/Charcuterie Boards be flattened on a CNC?

The image pictured is of a Walnut and hard Maple End Grain Charcuterie board.
One of the hardest and most frustrating things when making a cutting board is the final leveling of the board, with end grain especially, it can be catastrophic if done wrong.

Can you surface end grain on a CNC? Point blank, Yes.

The bottom line is that if you are using the right techniques and tools, the process of surfacing (or flattening) your cutting board with a CNC machine will be simple.  I will admit, I work slowly, I cut slowly, I surface slowly.  But when you have time and money invested in what you are doing taking that extra moment to surface really is a money saver in the end. 


  1. So my step one starts with cutting. I try to make my end grain cuts as perfect as possible using a Festool chop saw and a SawStop table saw. Their are tons of options and trust me I get it, these are expensive. Perfect cuts = Not many flaws in flattening.

  2. I lay out my design on a PERFECTLY flat surface. I use 1/4 thick acrylic but I imagine glass would do as well or better. This again makes the future board as blemish free as possible.

  3. Glue up. Again using the flat surface, do your best gluing and not leaving ANY of the touching surfaces uncovered. Place the pieces back on the flat surface.

  4. Clamp up. We all know clamp up, but for the sake of this tutorial, just remember you need equal tension in all directions. Any flaw will cause uneven glue lines.

It’s not rocket science, but it does take finesse and some patience. I would rather get it right the first time as opposed to fixing flaws later.

This image is an example of an end grain charcuterie board with poor preparation in gluing.
This end grain charcuterie board has poor preparation in the gluing phase.

Setting the Software (CAM)

    1. I use Vectric VCarve Pro for all things to do my flattening, the software in my experience (I have used several brands) is much more user friendly and capable than other softwares. I also use Fusion 360 a good deal, but surfacing an end grain cutting board doesn’t require the depth and power F360 provides.

    2. On my software and you can do this on basically any software, I create a box that is a full inch bigger that the entire board I am cutting out. This allows the cutting surface to ease into the board. My preference is to always set it the start point for the bottom left corner, but that is just me.

    3. I then set my Pocket Toolpath on VCarvePro with a start depth of 0.0 and cut depth of 0.1. I set my bit, for End Grain it is always my Amana Tool RC-2265 Spoilboard Surfacing Bit.  And I am going to tell you it is for a reason. If you look at almost all other surfacing bits, the first area that touches the wood is at a 90 degree to the material. The RC-2265 is at a 45. Again, not here to sell you on the bit, just on how I do it. Set the program to Raster, and however many passes you think you need. Taking .01 a pass is slower than all get out, but it ensures your 100 dollars of wood isn’t damaged!

    4. The RC-2265 runs at 18,000 rpm, get a good Z height and then it is ready to run. 

This is an affiliate link to the Amana Tool RC-2265 Spoilboard Surfacing Bit.

I am an affiliate for this product. However, I could be an affiliate for many different products but I specifically chose this one because it is the product I actually like and recommend. By using my links, you help support this website.

This picture is of a cutting board with standard tear out due to improper surfacing.

Preparing the CNC

I’m not going in depth on “how” to set up and prepare your CNC, I’m just going to give some advice for the securing of material. Generally, I think the best method of securing the cutting board is by Vacuum Table. I have one at the shop, love it to death. Unfortunately I do most of my side-hustle work at home and don’t have that option (yet). 

The next best option I have found, and I have tried several, is the double sided tape. I use XFasten Double Sided Tape and love it. I use the 4″ version and usually 3 strips depending on the board size. In my shop I usually make large charcuterie boards. Bottom line, the board can’t move, if it does this will fail. 

I have a second runner up for hold down. The old painters tape and CA glue trick. It works. I just find it messy and to be honest, CA glue is a little expensive.

Pro Tip (that shouldn’t be a Pro Tip) make sure your Surfacing Bit is tight in the collet! I would also blow out/clean the collet before mounting.

Surfacing an End-Grain Charcuterie Board is achievable with a CNC and the right bit!

While endgrain cutting boards can be difficult to surface with traditional tools, a CNC can be used to do the job quickly and accurately. With the right bit and settings, a CNC can flatten the surface of an endgrain cutting board without burning or tearing the wood. This makes it a great option for woodworkers who want to create a high-quality endgrain cutting board without the hassle of hand-surfacing.

And that's it. I have surfaced tons of end grain cutting boards like this and it works flawlessly every time.

Make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog! My store has many of the common items I personally use and the WHY behind it.

Have a great one!


Hill Country CNC & Woodwork

Hill Country CNC & Woodworking is an affiliate marketing business, but it is one with ethics and morals. We only promote the items that we use in our daily business. Let’s help each other! I will give you my experience (and discounts sometimes) and you can help me grow.

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