Introduction: Simple DIY Cutting Board
Making a cutting board is like a right of passage with woodworking. There are so many ways to make one, but we started simple. We used a single piece of wood to avoid needing 20 clamps and made it with a face grain instead of a side grain or edge grain.
There are a lot of strong feelings out there about the different grains, but basically a face grain is the the easiest and least durable, but is often pretty because it shows off the wood well. End grains and edge grains are more durable, but require a lot more tools and time, so are often beyond the capabilities for most people to make (and the amount of labor that goes into them often makes them too pricey for anyone to buy/sell). We'll still be making another tutorial on these though - we are excited about the challenge.
Here's what you'll need:
- Nice piece of wood (we’ll get more into this later)
- Miter saw (or circular saw could work)
- Drill press (or a power drill could work) with a 1-⅛” hole saw
- Router with a ⅛” radius roundover bit
- Random orbit sander with 220 grit sandpaper disk
- Some extra 220-320 grit sandpaper for hand sanding
- Wood oil (we love Natchez Solution but anything rated for cutting boards will do!)
- Combination square
Step 1: Wood Selection
So pretty much as soon as we could, we found the closest lumberyard and got our butts over there. Side note, we realized that lumberyards are often closed on weekends and evenings, so if you work full time like we do you might want to check their hours before you drive all the way over there *cough* learn from our mistakes *cough*.
Walking in, we had a “a whole new wooorrrld” moment. It was amazing, we could have stayed there all day. Literally, they had to politely ask us to to make our purchase and head out because they were closing. But enough about our lumberyard adventure, let’s get to the real meat of this tutorial.
Wood selection is key in this project. There are a few different things you need to look for when choosing it. It needs to be durable, close grained, food safe.
Some good options we came across in our research are maple, cherry, and walnut. Maple is on the cheaper end, so we started with that.
When picking your board, check for damage and flatness/straightness. Damage is pretty obvious, just know that even little imperfections that might be ok in other projects will cause you extra headache on this cutting board, like little dinks in the wood or a cool knot.
A good way to quickly check for flatness is to look down the length of the board at a steep angle and see if it still looks straight. The steep angle amplifies any changes in the straightness. If it looks bendy or wavy at all, see if you can find a straighter piece.
We ended up choosing an 8-inch wide piece of hard maple.
Step 2: Shaping
First, we cut our board to about 16 inches long using our miter saw. The length (and width) are really up to you, but we thought the 8”x16” size looked good.
We also decided to cut off one corner to add some visual interest, but again, totally optional. We just liked the look of it.
Then we marked where our hole would be drilled. The hole can be used for hanging the cutting board, and it also adds even more visual interest. We marked the center of our corner cut, and made a mark about 1 inch inward from the center (we used a combination square). That mark became the center of our hole.
We used a drill press with a 1-⅛” hole saw to cut the hole. Make sure to not drill all the way through from one side of our board. This could damage the grains on the other side. Instead, just as the tip of the drill exits the wood, stop drilling, flip the board, and continue drilling from the other side, using the tiny hole you made with the tip of the drill as your guide.
Step 3: Sanding and Corners
Now it’s time to make it smooth and pretty. First, sand top side, bottom side, and outer edges with a random orbit sander using 220 grit sandpaper. I spent some time on the edges of the 45 degree cut to round the sharp edge. Don’t worry about the 90 degree corners, we’ll handle those later.
Then use a router with a ⅛” radius roundover bit to take the corners from a sharp edge to a round edge. This bit is a game changer! I never thought about how much of a difference having that rounded edge made.
I also rounded over the 90 degree corners with this. It makes the finished product look extra nice because all the corners will have the exact same radius.
Next, we hand sanded our newly rounded corners and the inside of our hole with some 220-320 grit sandpaper. We found that sanding a higher quality hardwood is much easier and quicker than something like pine, that gets more splintered when you cut it.
Step 4: Finish It With Oil
Final step – oil your wood! Make sure to get the outside edges and inside the hanging hole too. We are in love with Natchez Solution wood oil, it’s what we use for pretty much everything, from furniture to butcher block. It’s got mineral oil, lemon oil, and beeswax.
After waiting 24 hours (or whatever is recommended for your finishing oil), your cutting board is ready to be used! Cutting on it for the first time was a little nerve-racking, I’ll admit. It was so pretty and perfect I didn’t want to mess it up. But I’m happy to report that it works and washes up well! A few light knife marks and no staining so far.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Hope you guys like this tutorial! If you want one of these cutting boards but not sure if you want to tackle the project yourself, we actually sell them too! You can find them in a few different wood options on our Etsy shop.
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