In this Instructable, I'll show you how to build an awesome end grain cutting board from scrap wood! These turned out amazing, and they would make some awesome last minute gifts. Make sure not to miss the video above for even more details!
Step 1: Gather Materials & Supplies & Details on the Type of Wood You Should Use
You'll need a decent amount of scraps for this project, so make sure to look in all of the nooks and crannies of your shop to make sure they aren't hiding from you. You'd be surprised how many pieces you'll find.
You want to use hardwoods for this project. Pine and other softer woods are not a good choice, as they will wear too quickly. Some good choices here in the U.S. are Walnut, Cherry, and Maple. I also used Hickory and Padauk.
The tools used are a little involved, for sure. You could maybe get away with doing this with a belt sander instead of a planer, but you'll end up with a lot more gaps. Here are the tools I used:
- Dewalt 20V Max Impact Driver : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7w
- DEWALT DW735X 13″ Two-Speed Planer : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7w
- Bosch ROS65VC-6 Random Orbit Sander : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7w
- SawStop PCS 1.75-HP Professional Cabinet Saw : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7w
- DEWALT FLEXVOLT 120v MAX* 12″ Double Bevel Compound Sliding Miter Saw : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7
- HNT Gordon Block Plane : http://amzn.to/1QxJD7w
The materials are pretty basic, just glue, finish, and rubber feet.
Step 2: Break Down Scraps Into Cutting Board Blanks
Start by breaking down the pieces into similar sizes and group them by size. You want the pieces to be relatively similar in height so that you don't waste time flattening it later on.
Step 3: Plane Pieces & Glue Up Cutting Board Blanks
Once you have your blanks ready to go (for reference, I made 7 roughly 13" long blanks to end up with 3 finished 18" x 13" x 2" cutting boards), plane two sides of each piece. This will give you two flat faces to glue together, making for a much tighter glue joint. If you don't have a planer, you could sand the sides of the pieces, or just count on filling gaps later. I used Titebond III wood glue, which is a food safe and waterproof glue. I highly recommend it.
Step 4: Flatten Cutting Board Blanks
After the glue has dried, plane your blanks flat using the planer. If you do not have a planer, you could try and use a belt sander, but you will never realistically get the boards perfectly flat. If you stopped here, you'd have a long grain cutting board.
Step 5: Cut End Grain Slices From Cutting Board Blanks
Now comes the fun part! After all that work, we get to see what the final cutting boards will look like. Decide on the thickness of your final boards and add roughly ⅛" to account for flattening after the final glue up. I wanted 2" thick cutting boards, so I cut slices at 2 ⅛" thick. After cutting each piece, turn it 90 degrees to expose the end grain. Keep cutting until you run out of blanks.
With all of your blanks cut up, you can now mix and match your end grain strips to form a cool pattern. This is the advantage of using multiple blanks, as you can get some really cool patterns by mixing things up. Make sure to orient any knot holes and imperfections towards the bottom of the board, so you don't have to fill them later.
Step 6: Glue Up End Grain Cutting Boards
Once you have your boards arranged how you want them, glue them together, again using a waterproof wood glue. Make sure to keep the boards as flat and straight as possible here, as any amount that the pieces slip is wasted thickness, since you'll have to remove it later.
Step 7: Flatten End Grain Cutting Boards
This is my disclaimer, do whatever you feel comfortable with here, I am not responsible for your choices in the shop! I used my planer to flatten these cutting boards, but some people don't think this is a good idea. To mitigate any issues, I did the following:
- Made sure my planer blades were sharp.
- Took shallow passes
- Chamfered the trailing top edge
These three things made for an easy and problem-free flattening.
After flattening, clean up each edge at the table saw.
Step 8: Sand End Grain Cutting Boards & Chamfer Edges
After all of the edges are cleaned up, start your sanding. I started with 80 grit, making sure to remove any scratches, tool marks, etc. Once that was done, I moved onto 120 grit. I then chamfered all of the edges with a block plane and filled any gaps with wood glue and sawdust. Once that was done, I did my final sanding at 180 grit.
Step 9: Apply Finish to End Grain Cutting Boards & Add Rubber Feet
For finish, I stuck with the classic mineral oil finish. It's dead simple to apply, just pour it on and let it soak into the wood. Spread it around and make sure all of the wood gets covered. Allow it to soak in for an hour or two, then wipe away the excess. Do the same thing again, after waiting 24 hours, and then you're done. Easy!
After the finish is done, add some rubber feet and you're done!