The process behind Andrei Muntian’s “Butterfly” 3D end-grain cutting board is as mesmerizing to behold as the finished product.
It’s hypnotizing to see a master craftsman at work, and watching Russian artisan Andrei Muntian in action is a prime example of this phenomenon. With painstaking attention to detail and almost preternatural precision, Muntian assembles a wood cutting board featuring what he calls a “Butterfly” 3D design. The optical illusion the alternating colors of wood panels creates is truly a testament to craftsmanship at its finest. This video does not simply show a saw cutting wood arbitrarily but rather a skilled worker demonstrating proper technique.
For those brave enough to attempt to replicate this stunning piece, Muntian has made the plans available to download on his website, MTM Wood, for $14. As you would expect, these plans are a study in fastidiousness. Though these projects may appear daunting at first, Muntian explains the thoroughness of his tutorials: “I made a lot of mistakes making end grain cutting boards. I don’t want you to repeat these mistakes. So I show the correct techniques and ways of making end grain cutting boards.” In addition to downloadable plans, Muntian also sells completed cutting boards, chessboards and other household goods.
Muntian’s style is defined by his preference for end-grain surfaces. For those who are unfamiliar, the term end-grain refers to the grain of wood as seen when a cut is made perpendicular to the growth rings. Not only do end-grain cuts provide an interesting pattern on the wood in the form of natural striations, but they also serve an important functional purpose. There is some debate about whether end-grain or edge-grain — where the wood is cut with the grain instead of across it — surfaces are better suited for cutting boards, but according to Muntian, end-grain is the superior choice for a myriad of reasons. Because of the configuration of the grain, Muntian claims that the wood is firmer, providing a harder cutting surface. Also, since the grain is exposed, he observes that knives stay sharper longer as the blade slips between the natural grooves in the wood rather than slicing across them. As a result, it is far less likely for splinters to end up in food, and bacteria is simply wicked away into the interior of the board. The BoardSmith, another cutting board company, supports Muntian’s reasoning, and the Robot Chef further confirms this argument using dry spaghetti noodles as a visual aid. However, Cook’s Illustrated notes that end-grain boards, though self-healing, are more prone to wood warping, so both end-grain and edge-grain cutting boards have their advantages and disadvantages.
Regardless of where you fall on the end-grain versus edge-grain cutting board debate, it is irrefutable that Muntian’s work is remarkable. Tune into the video below to see this craftsman in action, and be sure to let us know what you think of this functional work of art in the comments section!