After making dozens of end grain cutting boards over the past couple years I wanted to share a bit about which woods I consider the best (and most available) for constructing boards.
We’ve said, time and again, that end grain is the premium construction method for cutting boards because of it’s antibacterial properties and kindness to our knife edges. A crucial basis for determining the wood we use is in it’s hardness. I’ve found the best online source for wood characteristics, including hardness is: http://www.wood-database.com/
When looking through the database, try to select wood in the hardness range of 850 - 1700; You also want to look for a hardwood with a relatively tight grain pattern, free of knots and other blemishes.
The most common and accessible woods are hard maple, walnut and cherry; others similar to these are padauk, mahogany, and beech. I like the contrast in the colors of these woods and also their distinctive grain patterns; as well as the fact that they can be easily sourced at most lumber places.
There are plenty of other popular woods out there that folks use in their cutting boards; exotic woods like purple heart, bubinga and bloodwood are not uncommon, however these are not as highly recommended because they are actually too hard. The hard dense qualities of these woods defeats the purpose of end grain boards, which is to allow the knife blade to pass between the wood fibers.
Experiment with different woods and do your research, and if you want the opinion of some “experts” (my term not theirs, they are far too humble IMO) try the guys I use; they know their stuff and graciously pass on their brilliance.
Enjoy your woodworking!