What are the different types of grain? Which one is better for cutting boards?
Face grain is the wide face of a board, where you see the "face" of the grain horizontally. It shows the most grain and is often the part of the grain you see on furniture and some serving boards.
While it's beautiful to look at, it is a softer side of the wood and not particularly suitable for cutting on. It can develop cuts and scratches more easily than edge or end grain. This side of the grain is mostly good for decorative purposes.
Edge grain is the long narrow side of the board. It is stronger than face grain and better at hiding scratches, but not as strong as edge grain. They cutting boards made with edge grain are typically long pieces glued together in patterns and stripes. This grain is good for both decorative purposes and everyday cutting use, though it will develop knife marks faster than edge grain. It's more economical than edge grain and has decent durability.
End grain is the strongest part of the wood, found at the end of a milled board. End grain is most suitable for heavy chopping and slicing, and will rarely develop knife marks and cuts. Since you're cutting vertically into the end of the grain, it has some recovery ability, as the grain snaps back in place when a knife cuts through it. This also keeps your knives from becoming damaged or dull since they are not cutting across the grain, as they are on face or edge grain boards.
End grain boards are the most difficult to make as they are comprised of many small cuts of the ends of the boards glued together. There are all kinds of possibilities for designing beautiful patterns with all the smaller pieces that it takes to create an end grain board.