Make a Cutting Board From Scrap Wood





Introduction: Make a Cutting Board From Scrap Wood

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You can make an awesome looking cutting board and it only takes a few hardwood offcuts to do it. Check out how I used 4 offcuts of walnut, cherry, mahogany and maple to make this designer looking cutting board!

Update: I've included a video above I made with similar steps showing my process.


  • Hardwood scraps (preferably 12"+ long)
  • Glue
  • Mineral Oil


  • Tablesaw
  • Planer
  • Sander
  • Clamps

If you want a little more detail about the process and my secret to making boards super smooth even after they are washed, then go check out my blog post on it:

Step 1: Get Some Hardwood Offcuts

The project starts with some hardwood offcuts. The longer and thicker you can get them, the better. Here you'll see I had some cherry, walnut, mahogany and maple strips. I actually got all of these for FREE from a local millwork shop. Go by one and see if they have any offcuts they'd be willing to part with. If you call them "offalls" then you'll almost certainly get some as that is the industry lingo for the pieces left over after ripping a board to size.

I made my board 15.5" long, 9" wide and 1.25" thick. These boards were all about an inch thick and at least 1.5" wide, which was perfect.

Step 2: Cut Your Boards to Length and the Same Approximate Width

I cut all my boards to 16" long. I'm made this board an edge grain board, which basically just means all the boards are on edge. After you cut your pieces to the same length then you can start playing with the design you want to have in the end. I figured out the boards I wanted to use and a rough design.

After you have all the boards you will use, rip all the boards down to approximately the same width (which will be the height of the cutting board). This means find the narrowest board (the white maple one in my case) and cut the boards to the same size.

Step 3: Prepare the Boards for Gluing and Finalize Your Design

I ran all the boards through my planer to get faces to be glued up parallel and flat. You can see I ran the mahogany, cherry and maple boards through the planer more times than the others to get them down to a smaller size. I also ripped some of the boards smaller to get more small pieces rather than one large one.

Play around with the layout and sizing of all the pieces until you land on your final design.

Step 4: Glue Up the Board

Use a waterproof or water resistant glue and apply liberal amounts of glue to one face of each board. Clamp the boards together until you get some good glue squeeze out between the boards. Make sure the joints are as flat as they can be so you'll not have to do as much work on the next step. Let the board sit overnight for the glue to cure.

Step 5: Flatten the Board and Trim It to Final Size

After the board is out of the clamps it will have all kinds of nasty glue residue on it. Run it back through the planer and take very light passes. Flip the board each time you run it through so you maintain parallel and flat faces. When you get down to fresh wood all across the board you are done. If you don't have a planer you can also do this with a belt sander.

Cut the board to size on your table saw to clean and true up the ends. You'll usually lose a 1/4 to 1/2" in this process so factor that into the dimensions of your initial pieces.

Step 6: Sand and Oil Your Board

Sand the board starting from 80 grit and then going through 120, 150, and 220 with an orbital sander. Finish the sanding by doing 320 and 400 grits by hand. If you want a profile on the edges you can use a roundover bit in a router to do that now as well.

I finish all my boards with food grade mineral oil. That's just a fancy way of saying mineral oil, really :) It's pretty much all food grade since it's commonly used as a laxative...yeah, that's right. Put 2 or 3 coats on the board, letting it sit for 5 minutes after each application and wiping off the excess.

I go over this process in a little more detail on my site, so if you want to see more you can check it out here:



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    Looks so great! Now I want one! ^^

    I love this cutting board and now I know how to make it, I will look for the materials and have a go at making one with the instructions.

    Thank you!


    2 replies

    Awesome, I'd love to see it. Post a pic back here when you make one.

    I wish I could do it that quick! Sadly I have none of the implements to help me. It is just a dream at the moment, but I have the opportunity to make this happen, then I will let you know!!

    So beautiful. One day, I'll be able to afford the tools to do stuff like this. Definitely going to use the "offcuts" term, though. I can use those whether for other things. Thanks!

    Beautiful board! Give Walnut OIl a try. It is an edible oil that is also one of the few commonly available (as in supermarket) drying vegetable oils. I've used it for years and love it. Some notes on Walnut Oil: "Some woodworkers favor walnut oil as a finish for implements that will come in contact with food, such as cutting boards and wooden bowls because of its safety. People who mix oil & wax to formulate wood finishes value walnut oil as an ingredient because of the edibility of both ingredients. The oil typically is combined with beeswax in a mixture of 1/3 oil to 2/3 beeswax." I just use it straight out of the bottle. Also have used it for years to protect my carbon steel knives.

    4 replies

    Mineral oil has the advantage of not going rancid. Walnut oil may also not be suitable for those with a nut allergy.

    True, but Walnut Oil has the advantage of being renewable. Mineral oil, not so much. In actual point of fact, while I use it on various steel kitchenware, and on the wooden handles thereof, I don't put anything on my cutting board, which was made from oak cutoffs from the trash bin when I was an organ builder. Wood has oils that provide some anti-microbial activity, too. For info on this, Google "wood cutting boards safer than plastic." Mine gets scrubbed regularly with Clorox Clean Up and then rinsed. Other than leveling it out once with a hand plane and occasional cleanup with a hand scraper, that's all the attention it's gotten in nearly 30 years of daily use.

    Unfortunately I'm allergic to walnuts! Good info though.

    Technically, mineral oil is also renewable, just on a vastly different time scale, hahaha! Seriously though, your points are well made. :-)

    Beautiful work, but I do have a few safety notes. Various woods can cause mild to sever allergic reactions in some people. Oily woods, walnut, and the mahoganies are amongst the worst for this. Walnut has a natural fungicide in it and I personally wouldn't use it for a cutting board except for accent along the side. Maple is the most hypoallergenic wood (followed by cherry), which is why wooden baby toy are almost exclusively made of maple. I strongly discourage any open grain wood (oak, ash, walnut, mahogany, etc.) being used for a cutting board for meat. The blood can get into the pores and cause food poisoning.

    About finishes, all vegetable and nut oils are discourage as treenware finishes by the FDA because they all can go rancid. That means that unless you strip every bit of it out of the wood each time you clean it, it could be breeding bacteria. Most bacteria are relatively harmless, but there are a few truly nasty food-related bacteria out there. One of which is so nasty and hard to get rid of that if a food processing plant discovers it in their machinery, they just replace the machinery rather than try cleaning it. That was the bacteria that shut down Blue Bell Creamery and got every bit of their products pulled off the shelves last year.

    Last time I checked, only mineral oil is approved for this purpose, and is even approved by the FDA to be used orally as a laxative.

    What a beauty! I'd love to make one of these cutting boards!

    You mentioned on your site that the wood should be wettened, Should this method be done on all woodworking projects, Or only ones that get wet? But doesn't the mineral oil block the water from touching the wood?

    What type of wood is the 3rd from the top (one over the lowest) in the first picture of step 1? I think I might have used that type for making My Homemade Wooden C-Clamp

    2 replies

    The woods are cherry, walnut, mahogany and maple from top to bottom. Your wood is oak, which is great for that application because it's very hard.

    When you wet the wood it "raises the grain" and the board feels very rough. Once the grain is raised and you knock it back down with sanding then it won't feel rough after getting wet. Though the mineral spirits blocks the water it won't block it all.

    You only need to do that if you project will be getting wet. Test it out though. Sand something to 220 then spritz water on it and let it dry. Notice how rough it will be after.

    That is very nice. Going to try it myself. Thanks for posting.

    1 reply