Introduction: A Unique Style of Cutting Board

Cutting boards are a great skill builder for woodworkers. I enjoy making them from time to time and like to challenge myself. My wife makes some pretty intersting cutting boards as well - like the one featured in this instructable

In this Instructable, I will walk you through making this cutting board:

Essential tools Required:

Table saw
Router
- 1/4" straight bit and guide bushing
- 1 1/4, long flush trim bit
- 1/4" roundover bit
Clamps
Random orbit sander
14" or larger bandsaw
Smaller bench plane or a scraper

Tools that make your life easier but can be replaced with hand tools or other methods

Jointer
12" or larger planer
Spindle Sander

Step 1: Use Caution!

Power tools are dangerous. I chose not to remove any guards when creating this. Some operations my be obscured a bit by the safety equipment, but it is very important to use the safety equipment supplied by the tool manufacturer. In addition, personal protection equipment such as safety glasses, hearing protection, and dust masks are required for certain operations. If you have active dust collection equipment, use it wherever possible.

Never wear gloves,  jewelry, or loose clothing around power tools!

Step 2: Prepare Your Lumber

Here is the walnut I will be using. This came from a rough sawn board and was planed down and cross cut to rough length

Step 3: Joint an Edge Flat

After plaining, you need a square reference edge. I joint one edge on the jointer. I then check the flatness against a known flat surface - like the cast iron on my table saw

Step 4:

Once jointed, the jointed edge is placed up against the fence on the table saw and the other edge is cut clean. This ensures your edges are parallel to each other 

Step 5: Rip the Lumber Into Smaller Strips

Due to the natural tendancies of lumber to warp and shift, I like to work with thinner pieces. Especially on something like a cutting board that will get wet often. I am using a jig called the GRR-Riper

Step 6:

Here is my collection of 2" strips. The board will be 12 inches wide so there are 6 2 inch strips

Step 7: Glue and Clamps

Now it's time to glue these together. On the glue table I lay out the clamps and flip the boards. I apply glue to all of the edges at the same time. Once complete I spread the glue evenly with a silicone brush. A basting brush sold in your grocers kitchenware section works great for this. Since this is a cutting board, I am using a waterproof glue that is FDA approved for food contact.

Step 8: First of Many Times in the Clamps

Apply even clamping pressure from both the top and bottom. Wait about 20 minutes for the glue to dry a bit then scrape off the squeeze out

Step 9: Time for Clean-up

After several hours in the clamps, I remove the board and scrape the remainder of the glue. Follow the manufacturers directions in regard to clamping time, and take into account the temperature and humidity level of your work area. 

Step 10: Planing the Board Flat

After scraping the glue, I ran this through my planer to flatten it. I was careful in initial prep and cutting as well as clamping, so only one pass through the planer was needed. This can also be accomplished with a larger hand plane (#6 and up) or with a sander. It's very important to have a perfectly flat surface on both sides. 

Step 11: Trim the Edges

I square the edges on my table saw using a cross cut sled

Step 12: Prepare Your Template

I am using a 1/2 inch sheet of MDF. MDF makes great template material because it sands really easily. Draw your pattern right on the MDF

Step 13: Create Your Template

I cut the template on my bandsaw using a 1/4 inch wide blade. After that I take it to the spindle sander to clean up any rough edges the bandsaw left behind and refine the shape a little. Since MDF sands very easily, a 120 grit drum is recommended. 

Step 14: Apply Your Template

Decide where you would like the intersecting stripes and clamp your template to the workpiece.

Step 15: Prepare Your Plunge Router

I am using a 1/4" straight bit and a 1/4" guide bushing. Some may wonder why I don't just cut the curve on the bandsaw as I did with the template. Because I will be adding 1/4 inch strips, I need to remove 1/4" of material from the board. If not, when I insert the inlay strips, the profile will no longer match on both sides and I will have a really ugly bad fitting joint.

Step 16: Route It

With the guide bushing against the template, route a groove 3/8" deep. Do not go all the way though.

Step 17: Slice Down the Middle of Your Groove on the Bandsaw

It doesn't need to be exactly down the middle, but leave a bit of material on either side and be very careful not to cut outside of the groove formed by the router. 

Step 18: Prepare Your Router Again

This time I am going to use a flush trim bit. This bit has a bearing on the tip the same diameter as the cutter. Using the groove cut with the first routing operation, we have a clean reference surface to ride the bearing on

Step 19: Clean the Edges

Clamp your board to a flat surface with the rough edge left by the bandsaw on top. Set your router depth so the bearing rides in the groove we cut with the first routing operation. With the bearing in that groove, route along the profile of the curve. The bearing will prevent you from cutting past the pattern, and the cutter will remove the excess the bandsaw left behind.

Do this to each half of the board

Step 20: Prepare Your Inlay Strips

I am using maple and bloodwood. You will need 4 (four) 1/16" strips per inlay. Since ripping a board that thin is impossible traditionally, I made a "thin rip jig". These are commercially available. It lets you set a consistent distance for the off cut piece and makes ripping very thin strips as shown below possible. 

Step 21: Back to the Clamps

Apply glue to the curved edges of your board. Arrange the strips in the pattern you want and apply glue to them as well. Lay them on the clamps between the two pieces of your cutting board and draw them together. go slow and make sure the curves and edges line up. You'll find it actually cinches right up very easily.

Step 22:

After clamping overnight, I cleaned up the inlay stripes with a small hand plane. 

Once clean up, apply your template again and repeat steps 14 through 22

Step 23: Time to Finish It Off!

After I repeated those steps and made another inlay, I cleaned the second one up with the plane again

Step 24: Edge Profiles

I like to round over the edges of my cutting boards. Not only does it add a nice aesthetic touch, it removes the sharp edges which can be prone to splintering later on. I prefer to use a smaller laminate/trim style router for this. It spins much faster which leaves smoother cuts and less hand sanding.

Step 25: Time for Sanding

I go from 80 grit all the way to 400 grit. Be sure not to skip any sanding grits inbetween. You will likely have scratch marks. Since this will only be oiled and won't have a film building finish, it's important to get the board really smooth.

Step 26: Ready for Finish!

After sanding, wipe down the board to get the dust off. Don't use water as it will raise the grain and you will need to sand again. 

Step 27: Apply the Mineral Oil Finish

I like to apply mineral oil to cutting boards. The finish needs to be food safe and easy to reapply. Mineral oil fits those qualifications quite well. Pour some on and let it soak in. Once fully oiled, I like to apply a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax. The beeswax gives you a little more protection and adds a lot of shine.

Step 28: Get Creative!

You have a lot of possibilities with different species of wood and configurations. Have fun and be safe! 

Comments

author
Sam DeRose (author)2013-09-13

This is amazing! I love the technique you're using... I'll have to try this soon.

author
Harold Hill (author)2013-09-13

Blade guard in place: check
Eye protection in place: check
Thanks for being a good safety role model.

author
joelav (author)Harold Hill2013-09-13

I need my eyes and fingers for my day job (IT), so I use whatever precautions I can.

author
Tangski (author)2016-07-21

This technique would make a beautiful native flute too...once layered as above, before oil, cut to make flute sections...very nice project and beautiful woodworking!!!:) And I do agree,...good safety model as well!:)

author
alisterdark (author)2015-08-16

I'm a bit of a newbie, but may I ask why you didn't just bandsaw the pattern? It seems like adding extra steps to route, bandsaw, route, and glue. I would think transferring the pattern, bandsawing along it, and gluing would work. But, as I said, I'm a newbie...

author
joelav (author)alisterdark2015-08-16

Because you have to take out what you put in. A bandsaw kerf is very thin. Your laminations won't line up anymore. My inlay banding was 1/4". When I do 1/2", I use a 1/2" router bit.

Plus it's very difficult to cut super clean with a bandsaw. With a router it's very simple

author
skyboy_psu (author)2013-12-27

Can you post more details on your thin rip jig? FYI, I saw your mineral oil in one picture. Cvs sells it for about a third of the price of the big box retailers.

author
lluna6 (author)2013-11-27

Very beautiful work!

author
OTP1 (author)2013-11-21

great, love the result. thanks you for sharing

author
explosivemaker (author)2013-10-04

looks nice

author
a.steidl (author)2013-09-15

Very nice instuctible, joelav. Personally, I love end-grain boards in the kitchen, but this would look great as a tabletop, etc. Cheers, and keep up the awesome work.

author
joelav (author)a.steidl2013-09-15

Here are some pictures of a hall table I applied this technique to

halltable.png
author
a.steidl (author)joelav2013-09-18

Very nice!

author
markmoran (author)2013-09-15

Wow! Great instructable, thanks Joe! I've just started reading Woodwork by DK Publishing and am really excited about pursuing this as a much more serious hobby. (I started out just wanting to make small platforms and enclosures for hobby robots and electronics platforms, but now would love to build real furniture, etc.)

I don't have any of the tools yet, but I'm intrigued to see that a hand planer is still useful even if you have a power version. Do you have recommendations for a decent inexpensive table saw to get started with, or any other tools you found really useful starting out? Thanks for sharing this.

author
joelav (author)markmoran2013-09-15

I have a kind of unique style which is often referred to as hybrid woodworking. I use a good mix of hand and power tools. Sometimes a hand plane, scraper, bench chisel, etc is a better choice than a comparable power tool. With a properly sharpened/tuned tool, (I feel) you have a bit more control.

As far as inexpensive table saws, I would recommend the one I have, the Ridgid R4512. It's not the cheapest on the market, but I feel it is the least expensive saw capable of the precision needed for fine woodworking. A table saw is your workhorse, and with the right jigs, you can make just about any cut you need.

author
srilyk (author)joelav2013-09-17

I've actually found that only rarely does a power tool seem to take me less effort, skill, and time than a comparable well-maintained hand tool. Though I suspect if I had a planer I might feel differently ;)

A great resource is a TV show called the Woodrights Shop - it's a fantastic view for anyone who wants to work with wood.

author
marjorieallea (author)2013-09-16

Beautiful craftsmanship!

author
happyDays85 (author)2013-09-15

Those are great methods man. Looks awesome. Gotta try it now. This makes me wanna dug my blade guard back out of the drawer. Good stuff. Thanks

author
hhemphill (author)2013-09-15

Beautiful. thank you for sharing this how to.

author
lbrewer42 (author)2013-09-15

Excellent idea with beautiful results. Thanks for sharing this great instructable.

author
shallnot (author)2013-09-14

Fine Woodworking's May/June 2013 issue has an article on the same technique and online an accompanying video

author
kenbob (author)2013-09-14

I like this technique! I had a wooden chair seat break a few years ago and I glued it back together... Now i am thinking about taking the seat back off and adding some laminated 'pizazz'.

author
longwinters (author)2013-09-13

I was going to mention it was a lamination but thought that would sound snarky I've been doing inlays for about 20 years now and always want to learn more.
Here is a lacewood and Podunk one I did ten years ago keep up the good work looking forward to your next instructable.

13, 6:48 PM.jpg
author
joelav (author)longwinters2013-09-13

Wow, that is really nice! That's some pretty maple too

author
longwinters (author)2013-09-13

Why go all the way through? A channel keeps the board whole and does not allow for misalignment and eliminates the need for a band saw and sanding
I would love to see your procedure for thin cutting your inlays

author
joelav (author)longwinters2013-09-13

This is technically a lamination. A true inlay would be very difficult. Bending a 1/4" of material would be a challenge - especially dense tropical hardwoods. You need lateral force if you are doing multi-colored strips also. You would still need sufficient depth because after all people will be taking knives to these things. I can capture that in more detail on my next instructible. I am making a box and use the same procedure for the miter splines.

author
Yoshinok (author)2013-09-13

Wonderful instructable! I might just have to try that myself!

author
joelav (author)Yoshinok2013-09-13

You should, and post the results! It looks a lot harder than it actually is. If you are familiar with router operations, it's not too bad.

author
Yoshinok (author)joelav2013-09-13

When I get some time I will. I think it would be really nice to make accents in risers like this.

author
jessyratfink (author)2013-09-13

That's gorgeous! Fantastic work. :D

author
joelav (author)jessyratfink2013-09-13

Thank you!

author
millerdiver (author)2013-09-13

Where do you get your different species of woods from? I live in NJ and need a starting point for a supplier. Thanks! Beautiful cutting boards!

author
joelav (author)millerdiver2013-09-13

I get the domestic hardwoods direct from a lumber mill near me where they are sawn. Buying from a mill can be a little tricky since they don't normally sell directly to consumers. You have to be patient and may wait for a while, know what you are looking for, understand lumber grading, and understand board foot calculations. You save a considerable amount of money though (60% less than hardwood retailers). To find a supplier, put your zipcode in here: http://www.woodfinder.com/

I also work with a lot of exotics. I get those at a woodcraft store near me. There are a lot of online sources as well, but my local Woodcraft has a huge selection of exotics and is moderately priced.

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Bio: IT professional that likes to play with tools. I do quite a bit of woodworking in my free time making anything from shaving razor handles ... More »
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