End grain is the grain that appears at the end of a piece of wood rather than on the face of the piece of wood. I recently read in Woodsmith.com…
“End grain naturally looks a little different than face grain. And it also acts differently, too. The reason is simple. The end of a board is made up of open pores that work like a bunch of straws. Whatever is put on the face grain of the board won’t be absorbed very quickly. But any liquid (like stain or glue) applied to the open pores of the end grain will be pulled deeply into the wood.
So end grain creates a real problem when applying stain. The open pores suck up stain like a kid at a soda fountain. And the deeper the stain gets pulled into the wood, the darker the color will be at the surface. The result is that the ends are noticeably darker than the face of the piece.”
Not only does end grain usually appear darker, you will also notice that end grain, especially after staining, typically does not feel as smooth to the touch. Even though it has been thoroughly sanded prior to staining, end grain will (depending on the wood species) feel less smooth than the face board.
You will notice this most on the top edge of doors and on the side edges of drawers – when they are constructed from solid wood and not veneers. From our perspective – this adds to the beauty of your cabinets being made from solid natural woods. If this is objectionable to you – choose less natural materials such as veneers or laminates.