Home Projects Home Decor How to Make a Cutting Board from Any Wood

How to Make a Cutting Board from Any Wood

How to Make a Cutting Board

Today I’m going to show you how to make a cutting board from any wood.  I’m using leftover scraps as it’s a great use for those skinny odd length offcuts you have hanging around your shop.  Depending upon the scrap wood that you have, the design possibilities are endless, and of course you can buy wood specifically for the project to get exactly what you want.

I’m making a thick edge grain board today, but you can also make face grain and end grain boards with all kinds of designs.  I now also have a post on How to Make an End Grain Cutting Board that you can check out as well.

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Here is what you’ll need for the project:

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You can make a cutting board in 5 easy steps

  1. Prep the stock
  2. Layout the design
  3. Glue-up the board
  4. Final shape the board
  5. Sand and oil the board

1. Prep the Stock

These are the outcast boards I wanted to find a use for.  I had 2 long offcuts, one of cherry and one of walnut.  Then I had a thicker piece of mahogany and a small scrap of maple.  All the boards were about 1″ thick and all but the maple were at least 1-3/4″ wide.  Perfect for making a cutting board!

Scrap Wood Cutting Board-4

The maple piece was 16″ long, so the first thing I did was to cut everything to 16″ chunks.  I used my Mobile Miter Saw Station for this and just set the stop block at 16″ and went to town.  Use whatever size you have available or the size you want your boards.

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The side supports on the Miter Saw station really came in handy on the 10′ walnut piece!

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Lay out the cut pieces and start thinking about what kind of design you want for your cutting board.

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Next make all the pieces approximately the same width.  I set my table saw to 1-7/8″ (a little wider than the smallest piece of maple) and ripped all the boards down to that size.  Again, use whatever width you have.  I recommend staying above 3/4″ to keep away from warping.

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2. Layout the Cutting Board Design

For my cutting board design I wanted to have full sized walnut pieces with stripes of accent wood on one side.  For small strips, use a bandsaw or table saw to cut the scraps downs.  I went with 2 small strips of maple and 3 strips of mahogany.

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Do another rough layout of the cutting board see the design start coming together.  My cherry pieces were still too wide, but I’d address that later.

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Flat and smooth gluing surfaces are a must for good cutting boards.  Run each piece through the planer on both glue faces until they are smooth.  I ran the cherry through several more times to thin it out. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

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3. Glue Up the Cutting Board

Now is the part I get the most questions about, the cutting board glue up.  I use Titebond II when making my cutting boards.  That’s all you need to hold things together.  No dowels, no biscuits, just the wood glue.

Lay the boards on your clamps with some clamping cauls between the end boards to be glued and the clamp faces.  This helps keep dents off the finished cutting board and spreads the pressure evenly.

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Flip the boards over one by one and put glue on one the planed faces and then stand it back up against the other pieces.  Using a glu-bot bottle and glue brush save some time here.  Make sure as you tighten down the clamps you adjust the boards as needed to keep them flat and even.  Here is what the final clamped glue up looks like.

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I’ve started taking a wet rag and wiping up as much of the wet glue as I can.  This is way easier than scraping off the hardened glue blobs off your cutting board later.

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4. Shape to Final Size

Take the cutting board out of the clamps and send it through the planer using a skip-planing method.  That’s a fancy way of saying flip the board end for end at each pass.  Do this until you have fresh smooth wood on each face.

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Trim the ends of the cutting board to make them clean and get your final size.  I used a crosscut sled on my tablesaw for this.

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If you want to put a decorative edge on your cutting board then do that now using a roundover bit in a router.  I prefer a very small roundover on my cutting boards that I mostly do by hand, but sometimes I’ll go with a chamfer if I’m feeling macho that day.

5. Sand and Oil the Board

Now it’s time for sanding…ugh.  This is the sanding station I use for my cutting boards.  It’s a Downdraft Sanding Table Box I have plans for, so check it out if you want dust free sanding.

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I start at 100 grit and work my way through 150, and 220.  At 220 I spray the whole cutting board down with water and wipe it off.  This is known as “raising the grain”, and basically you are making the cut wood fibers stand up so you can knock them down for a smooth feel.  If you don’t do this then the first time you wash your cutting board it will feel very rough.

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After the cutting board dries, hand sand it lightly with 220 until it feels smooth again.  Wet the cutting board one more time and hand sand with 220 again.  Now when you wet the board after use it will still feel smooth to the touch.

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Finish it off by sanding with 320 grit and 400 grit by hand for an ultra smooth cutting board.

And now for everyone’s favorite part of making a cutting board, applying the finish.  I almost always use straight mineral oil.  Nothing special, just any ole mineral oil you can get at the drug store or grocery.  Pour on a big puddle of mineral oil, then sit and stare at it.  No seriously, you are going to be mesmerized by how amazing your cutting board looks.

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Okay, now snap out of it and spread the oil around.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes then wipe off any excess.  Repeat this process with 2 more coats until the board is nice and saturated.

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Oil the board whenever it starts looking dry by just applying more mineral oil.  The rule of thumb is to do it once a day for the first month, once a week for the next month, and once a month there after.  I totally don’t do that.  If it looks dry, I put more oil on it 🙂

And that’s it!  Now you know how to make a cutting board out of any type of wood.  You can add feet, hand holds, juice grooves and all types of other things to cutting boards, but I like them simple.  I leave the feet off because then you can use both sides.

Go check out my other home decor projects on my Home Decor Projects page and if you build a board post a pic of it in the comments so I can see it!

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  • It’s beautiful Brad! I have been wanting to make one of these for a long time, maybe someday, great tutorial!

    • Thanks, Mindi! You should totally make one.

      • jeff shinholster

        Brad, I have been very fortunate to a have a saw mill very close to my farm in rural Ga. The owner lets me “rumage” through his scrap piles. I ran across a ton of black walnut pieces recently. After building a few coffee tables I used the 2nd run of scraps to build roughly 2 dozen cutting boards using various designs as you have done. This is by far the best feel good projects that you can do. The results are not only fast but beautiful as well. Thanks for sharing your post.

  • Goodness Brad, this piece is so gorgeous! The tones are simply outstanding. I think this needs to be mass produced!

    • Thanks, Donna! But I have a hard time making something the same over and over. All my boards tend to be slightly different to keep it fresh for me 🙂

  • Love this! Seeing the wood come to life from the mineral oil is my favorite!

  • Curt

    Nice cutting board! Do you get snipe when running the glue faces through your planer or skip planing?

    • I get a little snipe here and there. But I’ve got my planer pretty well tuned at this point.

      • Curt

        That’s great! I get snipe so I’m trying to figure out how to tune the planer or whether there’s a workaround using sacrificial scraps ahead of and after the cutting board. Maybe you can do a blog entry on planing some day?

        • That would be a good one!

        • modk09

          Leave one or 2 pieces longer than the rest of the cutting board. That way, any snipe that happens will be cut off when you cut the board to length.

        • modk09

          Leave one or 2 pieces longer than the rest of the cutting board. That way, any snipe that happens will be cut off when you cut the board to length.

        • Ryan Gratland

          I find gluing two scraps to the ends then running it through the planer keeps anything from being wasted. It’s easy to cut them off at the end on a crosscut sled. ?

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  • David Kemper

    Love your tutorial.

  • Neels

    Nice board indeed. I have 40 Rhodesian Teak planks 2.4 meter x 95 mm x 32 mm. Should I cut the 95 mm in half to use the edge grain. This will be my 1st board

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  • Fred Levine

    I urge you to NEVER use pallet wood for anything that will touch food. You never know what the pallet was used for. It might have been used for chemicals or poisons.

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  • Brian Stewart

    Extremely nice pattern. I was thinking of making these and selling them during the summer. I would be using maple, walnut, and red oak. My dad has a shop to mill everything. My question is what should I charge, is $30 too much?

    • $30 is far to low in my opinion if you are making it with a nice finish and the same dimensions as mine. Check Etsy to see what others are selling for. You could go to 40 or 50 with nice designs.

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