Introduction: How to Make a SUPER SWEET End Grain Cutting Board!

Picture of How to Make a SUPER SWEET End Grain Cutting Board!

Hello and welcome to the best guide to making a SUPER SWEET end grain cutting board. By the time this is over you'll have a killer cutting board showcasing the beautiful natural end grain of wood so nice you'll be proud to show mom. The unique part about this cutting board is that the grain of the wood is running vertically, up and down, instead of the traditional horizontal, left to right. This increases the durability and longevity of the piece and also makes it absolutely stunning when done well. The cutting board will have a more "patterned" look than a traditional cutting board.

CAUTION: This instrucatable requires the use of power tools that can be dangerous. If you are unfamiliar with these tools or how to use them you should seek help with their use. They can be dangerous, especially the table saw, and should not be used without experience or experienced supervision.

Materials:

1. Hardwood (See step 1 for details)

2. Wood glue

3. Wood finish suitable for food(optional)

Tools:

1. Table saw

2. Planer

3. Router with a bit for the edges and a bit for the handles

4. Clamps, the more the merrier. (I used 6)

5. Paper and pencil (for planning)

6. Calculator (not necessary but can be helpful)

7. Measuring tape

Step 1: Get Your Wood

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Pick a nice hardwood, preferably one with interesting end grain. Soft woods such as pine, doug fir, or cedar are not acceptable and will lead to a short life and unsanitary conditions. It is important to pick woods that will give you the desired result. I'm a big fan of contrasting colors and styles. I look at the end of the boards I'm checking out and look at the color and grain pattern. The more variety and style the better(in my opinion).

-Purple Heart, Teak, Mahogany, Oak, Jatoba, Iron Wood, are all great choices. Your options are only limited by the woods availability.

PRO TIP: To find the best selection of wood, search online for a hardwood store or exotic wood shop near you. They are fairly easy to find and usually have a ridiculously awesome selection of rad wood!

Step 2: Plan Your Cuts

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Grab a pad of paper and a pencil(a calculator can be helpful also). You will need to plan out how wide, long, and thick you want your cutting board to be. I would suggest looking at your available counter space and deciding where it will most likely will be used and how much space you have to work with.

My strips were at least 44" long, 1.25" wide and 0.75" thick. I cut out 18 strips so my cutting board will be 12" wide. I will be cutting the strips into 2.44" wide pieces to make the cutting board 2" thick. I made the strips a little extra wide to accommodate planing off some which will help get rid of defects in the wood surface.

Step 3: Cut the Wood Into Strips

Picture of Cut the Wood Into Strips

Rip = To cut lengthwise with a table saw.

Rip the wood into the strips according to your plans. Right before you start ripping the strips is a great time to double check your math. Even checking your math again after you rip your first piece is smart. Doing that has saved me a lot of headache in the long run. The rips will go fairly quickly and the most important detail is making them all the same width.

Step 4: Clamp

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Lay out the clamps that will hold your strips together. Equally spacing them ensuring proper distribution of clamping strength.

Lay your wood strips into the clamps and set it up as if it was going to be glued. This is when you check for proper order of strips and make sure everything lines up. When everything looks good to go you're all set to glue.

Remove the strips of wood from the clamps and keep it in the same order it was in the clamps.

Step 5: Glue the Strips

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Put a generous bead of glue in a zig zag pattern on one side of every piece of wood except the last piece. Smooth out the glue so it is covering all parts of that one surface.

Lay the strips back into the clamps in the same order you removed them. Ensuring every two pieces put together has at least one of the connecting surfaces covered in glue. Tighten the clamps evenly until the strips are tight together and cannot be tightened any more. Leave to dry for 24 hours.

Step 6: Plane It

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After the glue has had time to dry, you will run the plank through the planer and plane the whole assembly smooth on both sides. Unclamp the assembly and prepare it to be planed. Set the planer height to take off a very small amount at first. The smaller the amount cut off the smoother the cut will be and the better the final product will be. Run the plank through the planer gradually lowering the cut height until each side is perfectly smooth. Once each side is smooth you're ready for the net step.

Step 7: Cut Into Strips

Picture of Cut Into Strips

Now you will cut the plank widthwise into strips. These strips will be flipped 90 degrees vertically and stacked side by side to make up the bulk of the cutting board.

You will want to set up a jig on your chop saw to get the same exact cut every time. I set mine to 2.25". I used a block of wood clamped to the chop saw base to act as a stop.

It helps to have someone to hold up the end of the plank as you begin cutting as it can be long, heavy, and awkward.

Cut the plank into even strips and set them carefully aside.

Step 8: Clamp Again

Picture of Clamp Again

Set the strips on the table face to face to form the shape of the cutting board. Their planed surfaces should be touching one another and the grain of the wood should now be vertically oriented on the table. Set up the clamps to glue all the strips together.

As before, set all the strips on the table with the same side of each strip to be glued face up.

Step 9: Glue Again

Picture of Glue Again

Make a zig zag of glue on each face and smooth out the glue using a finger, brush, credit card or anything that will work to cover the entire face.

Set the strips back in the clamps in order and clamp them finger tight. Evenly crank down the clamps until they are all as tight as possible. Leave to dry for 24 hours.

Step 10: Cut to Size

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Using the table saw, slice each side of the block until all the sides are straight and square to one another. This may take patience and multiple passes. But don't worry, the more passes the less likely you are to have saw marks on the edges and the straighter your cutting board will be.

Step 11: Router Time

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Using a router, round each edge to your liking. I chose a 0.5" round bit to make the edges a semi-circle. I found it helpful to rout the edge gradually and not all at once, to prevent splintering.

PRO TIP: Use a scrap piece of wood and test out the router with the appropriate bit before you use it on the cutting board. This will allow you to check the cut and the depth and make sure it is exactly what you want.

Step 12: Sand It Smooth

Picture of Sand It Smooth

Using an orbital sander and 200 grit paper, smooth every surface of the cutting board. Smooth the top, bottom, sides, and the edges. You really can't sand too much so now is time to go to town! Keep smoothing until you are completely satisfied you love every surface.

Step 13: Finish It(OPTIONAL)

Picture of Finish It(OPTIONAL)

It is totally fine to leave the wood bare, as wood is a natural product and poses no threat to you or your food. I chose to not finish mine.

If you would like to finish it I suggest using mineral oil and to rub down every surface of the cutting board and saturate every surface thoroughly.

You're done! Enjoy.

Comments

pattiemelt (author)2014-06-03

I finish all my cutting boards & dough boards with mineral oil, using the steps ehensel1 posted in his comments. The rule I use for treating/retreating them is pretty simple: Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, then once a year after that. This keeps my boards sealed & basically water proof so that I can wash them and I don't worry about contamination. I have a 50-year-old hickory cutting board I treat this way that is still in great shape & is used daily.

JamesK204 (author)pattiemelt2016-11-25

I wonder what type of glue was used on that 50-year-old board? Did they have Titebond III back then? Not meant to be a rhetorical question.

John Sphar (author)pattiemelt2014-06-03

If you're worried about contamination, I pour an amount of straight bleach covering the surface for an hour or so and then wash them in soap and water. I, too, oil them annually with mineral oil. I have walnut-maple end grain boards that are 40 years old and going strong.

ttemple2 (author)2015-12-04

Nice work. However, I would suggest sanding from 80 grit up to 200. You'll get a better end result than going straight to 200.

Basil09 (author)2015-01-04

We're there any issues running hardwood end grain through the thickness planer? Chip outs etc?

lbilhalva (author)Basil092015-09-23

An option is to glue 'sacrifitial' pieces of (scrap) wood at both ends of your board, so when you done planing, you just saw them off

zoogamorph (author)Basil092015-01-04

Yup. I recut the ends to take out the chipped part and routed the edges to make'em pretty. Now I just build the board a little long to account for the predicted loss OR rpute the edges before planing so the end pieces don't get planed as they are a little low to the finished surface. Does that make sense? Details can be a bit hard to describe accurately.

Basil09 (author)2015-01-04

I love this cutting board but I have one question.... Between steps 9 and 10 do you run this through the thickness planer again? If not how do you make it perfectly flat?
Thank you

zoogamorph (author)Basil092015-01-04

Yes. I definitely ran it through the planer. I sanded both sides with coarse sand paper to make it pretty smooth and then ran it through the planer to make it perfectly smooth. Good catch! I totally missed that step.

werwer12 (author)2014-11-02

Great idea, looks great! I added a walnut trim around mine

ErnestM (author)2014-09-16

unbelievable thanx

michaelgc (author)2014-09-10

My wife would love this, but she really doesnt like the time it takes me to do all of my projects so I need to balance the cost and benefits of making this...

Verga (author)2014-06-04

Excellent Ible, and great photos

I agree with the comments about finishing with Mineral oil, DON'T ever use baby oil.

One word of caution about Oak. Oak contains tannin which is one of the things that was used to tan leather hides. Also some of the exotics like teak contain oils that make them difficult to glue up.

craftytony (author)2014-06-04

Wow, very cool.....thanks!

fixfireleo (author)2014-06-03

this is a really cool instructable for those with the tools to do it. i was thinking that you could probably use this same technique with larger blocks to make your own butcher block countertop for an island. you might want to add a support board underneath in that case and maybe use different glue? but the result would be so amazing! (and practical)

Warp Nine (author)2014-06-03

This Instructable is magnificent. One could expand upon the technique and go for an entire countertop. Anyone who spends the time and energy to make one of these should likely be sure to care for it properly. I found an article that may be helpful as a starting point in that regard.

http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/Care%20and%20Cleaning%20of%20Butcher%20Blocks%20and%20Wooden%20Cutting%20Boards.pdf

ehensel1 (author)2014-05-30

On my boards, I usually finish them with mineral oil, just in case someone decides to run the board in the sink, which tends to warp it fairly good. The technique I learned was simple. Place the board on wax paper, or something you don't mind getting mineral oil on. Then, spread a generous amount of oil all over the top of the board. It should cover the whole top, and be shiny. Then, wait an hour or two. By this time, the board should have wicked up the oil, and should start to bleed through on the other side. If it hasn't, apply more oil, and let it sit a little longer. Once you get the bleed through, flip it over, apply oil to the other side just like you did the first, and wait the same amount of time. After the time is up, wiped down the sides, and buff off the top and bottom with a clean, lint free cloth. You should be all set to go! This doesn't make your board waterproof, but it does help prevent it from a spill or an accidental dip in the sink.

EF Tupt (author)2014-05-30

On the wood choices, i'd stay away from exotics as they have some nasty oils/compounds in them. Best bets for anything that touches a 'food surface' is wood from food we eat - apple, pear, cherry and maple. Even mulberry. Nut tree woods a perfect too. Hickory, beech, etc. Oak, especially end grain is too porous. You can take a small oak board and blow through it with it in water and make bubbles! The end results and the final board are great BTW.

Triclaw (author)2014-05-30

wouldn't oil show the grain contrasts ?

Triclaw (author)2014-05-30

wouldn't oil show the grain contrasts ?

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