Homemade cutting boards are one of the most popular woodworking projects on the internet. Some people have Youtube channels dedicated specifically to making them, such as mtmwood. Despite all of the examples out there, I decided to make my own. I got the idea for the pattern from this instructable
, but in the end, it didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I continued to make a video and this Instructable.
The board is made up of over 50 small trapezoids of different species of wood, which are all laminated into hexagons, which are then glued together into a big single piece.
The wood that I used in this project are: hard maple, red oak, and cedar. I wanted to use another hardwood instead of cedar, but since I made the entire thing from recycled wood, I didn't have anything else on hand. On the good side, the cedar that I did have was a really nice consistent reddish brown color.
Step 1: Video
To go along with this Instructable, I put together a video. It wasn't exactly professionally shot, and there isn't music, but it is still probably more interesting than reading what I wrote. Also, watching this video helps me pay for more materials and tools that go into making these projects, so please watch the video, and hopefully you will enjoy
Link if the embedded video doesn't work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPeSxhdP6Dw
Step 2: Beginning
I started out with three different boards boards of different species. The oak board was actually really warped, but when I only needed two 1 1/2 inch strips, the bow doesn't really show up much. I ripped 2 or 3 strips off each board. At this point I didn't really have any specific measurements, so I made sure I had plenty of materials. Make sure that you do know the width of the steps that you cut, as that measurement will come in later.
Step 3: Measuring and Cutting Angles
After a lot of trial and error I found the measurements to make the trapezoids fit together nicely in large bundles. The small top side of the trapezoid needs to be the same length as the slanted sides. I marked out a few pieces with a bevel guide, and set my miter gauge on the table saw for 60 degrees, after a few cuts I came up with a faster method of setting up a stop block on the mitre saw and making 30 degree cuts. This turned out to be much faster and repeatable, so I went into assembly mode. I made lots of extra pieces in case I made a mistake, which turned out I ended up doing a lot.
Step 4: Sanding
After the pieces were cut, there was a small burr on one side, so I cleaned it up with some 60 grit sandpaper.
Step 5: Gluing Part 1
I decided to lay out all my pieces before I started, and glue all the pieces in steps, which turned out to be a really good idea, because it is easy to become confused when you start gluing.
I took two pieces of the same kind of wood and glued them with the longest sides butted up against each other. To clamp them, I used thick rubber bands, which don't have an insane amount of clamping pressure, but they did the job. I glued all the pieces and waited a couple hours for the glue to dry.
Step 6: Gluing Part 2
The next step of gluing is to put the hexagons into groups of three. Again I used rubber bands, but it was a little harder to put it around the pieces. The glue I am using is Gorilla wood glue, which is a very strong glue, and is moisture resistant.
At this point I am trying to keep all the pieces level and flat as they are drying, but some unevenness is starting to show up, which I will have to take care of later. Also, there are slight gaps showing up between the pieces, which come from slight imperfections when cutting them. The gaps are amplified over all the little pieces and grow to pretty substantial sizes. I took care of them later with little wedges of wood glued in or sawdust mixed with wood glue.
After those pieces were dry, I glued them all into each other to form a big block. This is the point where it became pretty messy. I used lots of glue, clamps were strayed about, and sawdust covered everything, but after the glue dried, it became more manageable.
Step 7: Cutting Square
At first I couldn't figure out how to cut a flat side from the mess, but I ended up drawing lines with a straight edge, and tried to follow them best as I could on my bandsaw. After they were cut, it was pretty square, and I thought about running it through the jointer, but decided it would be safer to use a belt sander instead.
Step 8: Flattening
Now that the sides were flat, I needed to flatten the faces, which would have been a breeze by just passing them through a planer. Only one problem: I don't have a planer. Instead, I fixed up my old portable belt sander, and sanded for a LONG time time. Even with a course 50 grit belt, it took a while to get all the pieces to the same level. Also at this time I filled a lot of the gaps with wood glue, and sanded over them until they were gone. After it was all done and smooth and level - I flipped it over and repeated everything again.
It is the least fun part of the process, but also one of the most necessary.
Step 9: Routing and Final Sanding
Coming to the end of this project, I used a 1/4 inch round over bit in my router to knock off the edges and give it a more finished look. Also I rounded the edges of the board before routing. It might have been easier to use a router table to do this but I currently don't have one.
The sanding on this board was done in multiple steps:
1. First initial sanding down to 220 grit (make sure corners are smooth as well)
2. After a couple days of use, the grain is raised again and I re-sand it smooth again, this time up to a higher grit, and it stays smooth
Step 10: Finishing
This is the most fun part of the project. You get to see if all your work pays off or you have to go beck to step one (or 7).
I used a mineral oil/beeswax mixture meant for butcher blocks, but works fine for cutting boards. I applied a thick, generous coat, and let is soak in for a few hours then came back and buffed it to a shine (or almost a shine). Of course after a while of use, it will get scratched up and I will need to refinish it, but that is what it is made for. Right?
I made this for a Christmas present, and an entry for the Wood Contest
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