Introduction: Stratocaster Chopping Board - A.k.a. the "StratoChopper"

Picture of Stratocaster Chopping Board - A.k.a. the "StratoChopper"

A simple-to-make chopping board from scrap kitchen counter board (a la IKEA) in the shape of a Fender Stratocaster guitar. Next time you have a dinner party for your muso friends, amaze and confuse them by serving cheese on this retro-shaped chopping board.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

* Kitchen Counter board, like oak, maple, ash, about 35mm thick. Mine is a leftover from a kitchen refurb project. Or just go to IKEA and buy a section of kitchen counter. Do not use chip-board kitchen counter!
* Sandpaper
* Tung oil, Counter top oil or Danish oil (not so good as it is not food-quality)
* Liquid paraffin (and old-fashioned medication for rot gut)

* Fender Guitar or other guitar with well-known shape, e.g. Les Paul, Telecaster (this is for tracing the shape only - your guitar will remain intact for this Instructable!)
* Band saw or jigsaw. Recommend a band saw, but I managed OK with a jigsaw
* Router with a 10mm-radius roundover bit
* Belt sander, drum sander, orbital sander, linisher, or all of them
* Various grades of sand paper
* Drill and 32mm spade bit for an optional hole
* Pencil

Step 2: Trace Shape From the Real Thing

Picture of Trace Shape From the Real Thing

Carefully place your precious guitar on the scrap board and trace the outline as accurately as possible with a flat-sided carpenter's pencil.

Redraw the lines with a dark marker pen to help you better "understand" the curves and avoid mistakes in the next step when cutting the board.

Step 3: Cut Out

Picture of Cut Out

Cut along the line on the board, being careful to always keep the blade perpendicular to the board. Avoid breathing in the oak dust - it is nasty stuff. If you can connect a vacuum cleaner to the jigsaw of band saw, so much the better.

Step 4: Add Optional Hole

Picture of Add Optional Hole

Make an optional decorative hole where the neck would have been attached. Round the corners over. This is one possible way of elegantly dealing with the familiar guitar shape that is now bereft of a neck.

I used a 32mm spade drill bit, but an auger or Forstner drill bit would have been much better.

Step 5: Sand Out Shape

Picture of Sand Out Shape

Use whatever sanding tools you have available to smooth out the shape on the perpendicular axis. Don't worry about rounding over yet, since this will be taken care of in the next step with a router and a round-over bit.

Step 6: Round Over Edges & Final Sanding

Picture of Round Over Edges & Final Sanding

After smoothing the outer shape of the 'guitar body', I routed it by hand on a routing mat using a 10mm radius rounding-over bit. 

Remember to move your router in a clockwise circle when routing the inside of the hole, and to route in a left to right direction with the work piece edge facing you.

Smooth any remaining imperfections from the routing operation with increasing grades of sandpaper. 

Step 7: Apply Wood Finish

Picture of Apply Wood Finish

The best choice of finish for use with food is tung oil, with a final finish of liquid paraffin for a matt finish.
Other choices for finish are kitchen counter-top oil (which presumably is of food grade?), and Danish oil - which judging by its smell, is probably not the best finish to use on good that are in contact with food. 

Apply a diluted form of the finish as a first coat and let it draw in for 20 minutes or so. Wipe off the excess finish with an old rag. Leave to dry for a few hours. Give a light sanding with fine sandpaper. 
Repeat these steps using a non-diluted wood finish. 3 coats of finish did the trick here.


mwatson16 (author)2014-03-07

I traced my Guitar Hero shape, will show how it goes. gonna do one out of mdf, so the wife can mosaic it with mirrors.

jcookson (author)2011-12-30

here's the cutting board and the cheese board...

rilokiley77 (author)jcookson2012-05-09

Really like your addition to this amazing project. Thumbs up to both you and Gerrit!

gerrit_hoekstra (author)jcookson2011-12-31

Fantastic - that worked out really well. Thank you for sharing!

kilgore64 (author)2012-01-02

Thanks for the great idea, Gerrit! I whipped one of these out in a few hours on New Year's Eve to give to my friend who is a guitar nut. I had a wooden cutting board that I salvaged from the top of an old portable dishwasher that we got rid of about 20 years ago. I knew I'd find a use for it some day!! I was short on time so I skipped the hole (I just finished oiling the board as my friend was coming up the driveway).

You're welcome! Nice finish you got there.

Great to see photos of other folks' work.

jcookson (author)2011-12-29

Great idea! Made this as our gift to our guitar aficionado son-in-law. Great hit! I added a cheese cutting board the shape of a strat headstock (pictures when I get on my laptop -can't load from my iPad).

elhauk (author)2011-12-19

Thanks for the Xmas inspiration. Making a jazzmaster board as a gift for my guitarist brother. Found blueprints here that I resized to the width of the board I was working on. And with a little neck to use as handle

gerrit_hoekstra (author)elhauk2011-12-19

Oh yes, what a great collection of plans! Been looking for a collection like this for when I build a proper, non-culinary guitar.

elhauk (author)gerrit_hoekstra2011-12-23

Thanks for the inspiration.
Came out pretty good :)

Sorry bout the photo being rotated.

gerrit_hoekstra (author)elhauk2011-12-23

Lovely curves, hope your brother likes it!

wizard124 (author)2011-12-23

Awesome idea and well done!

DIY Dave (author)2011-11-30

I'd like to make an acoustic cutting board

WoundedEgo (author)DIY Dave2011-12-08

You could throw the discards in the sound hole...

DIY Dave (author)WoundedEgo2011-12-11

That would be great

shorepatrol (author)2011-12-05

Finally something to do with that crappy old jap strat in the corner...thanks

cmalone (author)shorepatrol2011-12-05

hey! we jap strat owners have got to stick together.

shorepatrol (author)cmalone2011-12-09

Great, we can do this one together ! I certainly hope you do not mean twice as thick a one. All strats are good but I have a 66 with the original pickups and.....well it just"dont get no better". ENJOY YOURS TOO

WoundedEgo (author)2011-12-08

I'm so baffled by creativity... was this "out of the blue"?

WoundedEgo (author)2011-12-08

Slap a neck and some strings on that baby, because it looks ready to rock!!

MissouriVillian (author)2011-11-30

Excellent. I'll be awaiting the optional guitar string cheese slicer attachment.

Actually...I was in a little kitchen supply store the other day and they had a cheese slicer that was a hand-sized slab of wood with two metal supports on one edge, and a spiral wire running from a screw on one side, over the metal supports, and to a thumbscrew on the opposite side. They said specifically that the wire could be replaced at need by a .020 steel guitar was actually (the size) engraved on the wood, so you could remember that. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the brand was.

Jordo! (author)MissouriVillian2011-11-30

When I'm at a kitchen store, I always play those egg slicer gadgets like some kind of weird harp, lol.

cforeman (author)Jordo!2011-12-05

Same Here.

Brilliant.. hit the design Villian.

DIY Dave (author)MissouriVillian2011-11-30


aspir8or (author)2011-12-06

Great project. I may just have time before xmas to make one about 80% size Alembic bass for my son. I've been wracking my brains for weeks about what to get him. He's an awesome bassist, teaching as well as playing, so this will be perfect. Now the only problem will be what I get him in the future, as this is going to be hard to equal, let alone top.

I Hate Your Guts Too (author)2011-12-04

Awesome idea and well executed! I do have some concerns about your choice of material though. Oak is not particularly suited for cutting boards because it is a very open grained wood and will retain bacteria from anything that has juices (like veg) and possibly even cheese. Does the parrafin seal it enough for this to not be a problem?

I would recomend to anyone who would like to build this cuting board to use beech or maple (both available at ikea) as they are designated as "food safe" woods.

Oak creates an enzyme when bacteria from juices of meats and poultry hit it.
As long as you wash your board and, periodically give it a bleach and water wipe down, it's fine. Another poster put a link into the Food Science research at UC Davis. I have used oak butcher blocks and cutting boards for years.

I wouldn't worry much about bacteria... go here

You can skip to the last paragraph, but it is a very interesting read concluding that wood is safer than plastic cutting boards and that plastic should be considered a health hazard. And if it fits, wet your wooden board and microwave it for about 45 to 60 seconds.... watch out that you don't burn it. It will come out germ free and kinda warm.. LOL

Thank for the article, I read it. The upshot seems that a wooden board closes up after the cut and therefore does not provide space for bacteria to reside in, unlike plastic chopping boards. So LONG LIVE WOOD!

elatrommi (author)wanna beco2011-12-05

still though does not include any information as to wood species type. As a general rule you should not use open grained woods like oak as it is more likely to retain contaminates. So as this article (for a woodworker) is great info (i printed it out for customers) though as with anything with food it is all how you maintain your cutting board. For home use it is probably just fine.

another tip is to use end grain or edge grain for you cutting boards that see more knife action.

all in all i dig the ible great job!

I toyed with the idea of embedding an end-grain section in this board, because I also make end-grain boards from oak, but eventually decided against it because it would not be easy to for the average "bloke-in-a-shed" to make.

The liquid paraffin (not to be confused with plain paraffin / kerosene) is used in cosmetics and old-fashioned gut remedies, and seals the pores (both end-grain and side-on) very nicely. Ikea sells this stuff in 250ml bottles - under some weird scandinavian-sounding product name, of course :-)

mischka (author)2011-12-05

Great !

hoo-t (author)2011-11-30

This is incredibly cool! Congratulations on a great instructable! I'd like to mention that there are printable templates on the web for lots of guitars designed for actually building guitars. Additionally, since maple is a preferred wood for guitar bodies, and a preferred wood for cutting boards, it would seem to be a great choice tor this project! Neat idea!

wanna beco (author)hoo-t2011-12-04

ohhhh, could you imagine a nice flamy maple PRS... that would rock!! could you use nitrocellulose as a finish?

hoo-t (author)wanna beco2011-12-04

Nitrocellulose may not be the best choice for a finish on a cutting board used for food. I think I'd stick with one of the oil finishes recommended by the op.

wanna beco (author)hoo-t2011-12-04

I know, it just used to be a great guitar finish... I was kinda be silly... but I still want a flame maple PRS cutting board!

steelchef (author)hoo-t2011-12-04

Hey Hoo-t,

Would you have a link to these templates by any chance? Would be greatly appreciated!

hoo-t (author)steelchef2011-12-04

Well there's a good telecaster template on the tdpri forum, located at

Other than that you could do a google search for your preferred guitar and the word template..... stratocaster template, or "gibson les paul template", etc.

buckshot00 (author)2011-12-04


wanna beco (author)2011-12-04

OMGAWD!! DUDE!.... You're a genius!

Icedvovo (author)2011-12-04

That's the best Instructable I've seem for ages. AWESOME!

danfrsc (author)2011-12-04

Never mind 3/8

danfrsc (author)2011-12-04

What equals a 10mm router bit in inches?
Thanks I am actually making this one. Good work

steelchef (author)2011-12-04

I just called a buddy who works at a local music store. I told him of my need for an outline of a Strat and he has agreed to allow me to bring a sheet of art paper and a pencil to trace the outline of a similar design. This seemed to be easier than working from a template.

Knightsabre (author)2011-12-04

Just a suggestion for finishing...I've become a fan of using beeswax for finishing wood. It's food-safe, and polishes beautifully. Of course, it takes a little more work to apply...
That said, I LOVE this instructable! I want to make this one, plus a Telecaster, then maybe a Gibson SG-shaped one! Heck, maybe even a "baby" acoustic, or a ukelele (hmmm...cheese board?), mandolin, violin, the possibilities are endless!

Thanks for the 'ible, and the inspiration!

Merlmabase (author)2011-12-04

Ha! This can't be coincidence. Is there any chance your instructable was inspired by last week's This American Life?

@ 43m 18s

steelchef (author)2011-12-04

A very creative project Gerrit. Thanks for the share. I made a fish shaped serving plank, (for whole salmon) a few years ago. Started with a 2 cm slab of red cedar which needs little care as it is naturally water resistant. An occassional sanding, (to remove knife marks) a light coating of veg oil prior to use and into the dishwasher when done. It eventually had a fatal accident during a family disagreement.
I'm going to have a go at the 'Strato-Chopper' using cedar again.

Beekeeper (author)2011-12-04

Very nicely done and an excellent idea. Being a woodworker myself it would look even better if the grain of the wood went lengthways, though I realize you might have been constrained by your original piece of wood. With the grain the other way, the 'ears' would be less likely to get knocked off as time progresses.

About This Instructable




Bio: At heart an engineer, musician, polyglot, cook, computer programmer, wood worker, brewer and hacker.
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