Instructables
Picture of Scrap Wood Cutting Board
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Finding ways to use up scrap wood in the shop is always a fun challenge.  This scrap wood cutting board is a great project because it's made from a wide variety of different kinds of wood that are all a bunch of different sizes - which is to say, it can be made with virtually whatever you've got lying around.  The multicolored boards work and look great in the kitchen, but the basic process of making the stripped stock material can be applied to virtually any woodworking project for a colorful outcome.  The key elements to this project are using a good waterproof, kitchen friendly glue, like Elmer's® Carpenter's® Wood Glue MAX, and adding in a few bold and colorful woods like purple heart (purple) and paduck (red) to really make the boards pop with color.

 
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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials
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I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to materials and supplies, so it's no surprise that my wood shop is filled with a lot of cut-offs that perhaps other people might just throw away.  It turns out that all these odds and ends actually have some real value for making small projects like jewelry boxes, thin strips for inlays, or joined together to form larger boards.  This Instructable shows you how to join multiple different sized boards together to make a scrap wood cutting board.  Here's what you'll need:

Tools:
  • table saw
  • jointer
  • planer
  • router with round over bit and round nose groove bit
  • router table
  • clamps
  • cauls
  • glue brushes
  • palm sander

Materials:
  • various scrap pieces of wood (read below for explanation)
  • Elmer's® Carpenter's® Wood Glue MAX
  • food safe finish such as mineral oil or butchers block oil and rags

The woods that I chose to use were basically just what I had lying around from other projects.  The cutting board contains maple, walnut, mahogany, paduck, purple heart, cherry and sapele.  I've found that one wood to stay away from using in a cutting board is a deep grained oak - the pits allow for food to build up and they are harder to clean.  How much wood you need will depend upon the size of cutting board that you're making.  I always think that it's a good idea to prepare more wood than you think you'll need because sometimes there are sections of scrap material with knots or blemishes that end up not being suitable for a project.

To be perfectly clear, when I say "scrap wood" I mean scrap hard-woods.  And at no point should you attempt to make a cutting board out of a composite material like plywood or MDF, or out of any lumber that's been treated in any way, like pressure treated lumber.
Can you use olive oil to finish it?
Datawolf1 year ago
Is flaxseed oil food-safe ?
noahw (author)  Datawolf1 year ago
Yes. It's a nutritional supplement.
vandalex1 year ago
You my friend are a master craftsman
zer61 year ago
we make these in my school's woodshop and sell them for funding. if they are warped after you remove the clamps from gluing you can always joint one side first before planing, as long as your jointer is wide enough. we have a fairly wide planer so we glue all the wood strips together into one board to plane all at once. we've also actually done some of the juice grooves with the CNC machine. all of these things come in handy when you are mass producing these cutting boards. great instructable- it was cool to see a process i am familiar laid out in steps so other people can learn how to do it!
Waterwalker2 years ago
Walnut is a diuretic, not the best material for a cutting board. Padauk has toxins that can cause respiratory failure when you sand or cut it. Oak is open pored, and will retain bacteria.

It looks like all of these wods are in this cutting board. As a woodworker, I only use hard maple when I make a cuttung board.

What you don't know can hurt you. If you want to use your scraps, make a box, not a cutting board.
noahw (author)  Waterwalker2 years ago
I totally hear what you are saying and appreciate your concerns and cautions. I'd just like to respond by saying that there is no oak in this cutting board, and in fact, I warn against using it for the very same reason you pointed out in my tools and materials section.

Regarding the walnut, that's truly the first I've heard of anyone saying that it's not food safe. Horses are allergic to walnut dust and shavings, but not humans. Even people with walnut nut allergies are save to eat off of the wood. Humans have been making bowls out of a walnut for as long as we've been eating out of bowls. Perhaps you have to eat a large amount of walnut to feel it's diuretic effects?

And finally, for the padauk, your point about the dust being caustic to some people is spot on, however, in an inert setting, like a cutting board, where, even under the most extreme chopping conditions the wood is not being aerated as saw dust and inhaled, I feel that it's safe to use.

We all make our own choices about risk management and the way we understand adverse effects. I appreciate your input and thank you for your comment.
I agree, wanut cutting board seems to me to be expensive rather than diurtetic. I have one wholly walnut made and never noticed any duretic effect. I guess it may depend on the several thousands times it has been washed. That jewel is more than fifty years old and is a monument to walnut hardness and durability Great working wood. Olive wood is very hard and aesthetically nice. Hard woods saw dust is thinner and so more dangerous for lungs as any sort of thin powder including baking flour. I advice against detergents, just brush in warm water (on both sides to avoid crakings, as soon as possible.
nbowes2 years ago
over the years I found using a planer does make boards smoother, but DOES NOT MAKE THEM FLAT. If its warped or twisted going in , it will be the same coming out
Hand planing helps here. If you ink a flat surface like glass then place your board on top where it is inked on the board are your high spots, plane these until you get the board reasonably flat on one side then run it through your planer
ddw_az nbowes2 years ago
set the planer to "skim" the serface of the outside of the cup. then when you have a flat area on the outside then flip the board to "skim" the inside of the cupped board.
nbowes ddw_az2 years ago
I was referring to twisted or warped. Cupped is easy
ddw_az nbowes2 years ago
i agree, twisted or warped is HARD.
the only way i can think of is to rip the board into strips, then glue and clamp.
Lewis34562 years ago
This is a very nice project.
Lindie2 years ago
Nice! Great job!
korgoth252 years ago
T hers another ible like this but you take it 1 step further. instead of them all stacked you then take it to the table saw do a few more cuts and its checkered. Either way they turn out great my combo was wenge, blood, brazilian, and maple. the colors really popped.
dantistus2 years ago
This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your great work. I am so sorry right now that I do not have a workshop and tools so I could do something similar!

And I was just walking home today and saw a couple of guys breaking pretty long (~1 meter) leftover planks of fine wood into smaller pieces and throwing them into trash :(
jaiacosm2 years ago
Its a beautiful table man teach us how it is done. Another way to make it look cool as well is after you"ve glued the strips together and taken all the residual glue away (step 9). Cut the table perpendicular in 1in strips. Then rotate 180 deg every other strip glue it together and sand. you"ll have a cool effect!
Nice wood by the way, I see some cocobolo, purpleheart, some Koa and Cedars maybe?

NICE WORK MAN.
Cheers from Panama
temper2 years ago
LOL - about $300 worth of "exotic" wood there... but as you say, if you have it laying around...
caitlinsdad2 years ago
Be sure to research your "exotic" woods that you use. Although they may be pretty, some do cause allergic reactions and sawdust created in the process should not be inhaled. Cutting with a knife will break the finish and allow it to come in contact with food.
noahw (author)  caitlinsdad2 years ago
Good point caitlinsdad - woods like cocobolo and even the oils in cedar are known offenders on the possibly allergic woods list. Heck, the EPA has found that even the general category of "sawdust" can be carcinogenic in nasal tissues.

What's a woodworker to do?

I'd recommend using proper protection, like a respirator and goggles when cutting, planing and sanding. Wear long sleeves if you get an itchy skin reaction too. That being said, I wouldn't let it get in the way of my project.
Jens242 years ago
Please be sure and note that some wood is treated to be "insect free" which means it should NOT be used with food! If you know where your wood came from it can be safe, if you do not know make sure you ask, many people get ill from "homemade cutting boards" because the wood has been treated!!
noahw (author)  Jens242 years ago
That's a good tip. You should never build anything that you're going to "live with" using pressure treated wood. The tip off's would be to stay away from anything that's bright green or soaking wet with chemicals. Pressure treated wood can be full of all kinds of preservatives, including chromium, copper and arsenic. It keeps the bugs out, but it also has all kinds of serious health effects in humans.

It was assumed in this Instructable that of the scrap wood that you've got lying around to make a cutting board, pressure treated lumber would not be one of them.