This year I decided to give away crafty stuff for Christmas as much as possible, so I made a batch of cutting boards, and did some wood burning on those and one wooden spoon. It was easy but took some time. But in the end, I was happy with the results and pleased to give away handmade gifts.
Step 1: Cutting the Boards
I started with a 25" x 48" piece of Butcher Block that I bought at a home store called Mendard's for $70. Since I cut this piece down to 5 separate cutting boards, that got the cost of each gift down under $15 apiece, which I was happy with.
My table saw is too small to reliably make the first cross cut, so I used my circular saw. I cut the board in half, making two pieces that were approx 25" x 24". I clamped a straight board to the workpiece as a straight edge, and ran the circular saw against it for a straight cut. I got a little bit of tearout at the end of the cut, but knew that routing the edges would probably take care of it.
Step 2: Ripping the Boards to Final Sizes
I used my table saw to make the rip cuts. My tiny little table saw was barely big enough to set the fence where I wanted it to be. The first 25"x24" board was turned into 2 cutting boards, with one larger than the other. I didn't really measure these sizes, but just eyeballed how large I wanted them to be. I drew lines with a straight edge and made the cut appropriately.
When it was time to cut the second 25"x24" board, I wanted to get 3 cutting boards out of it, so I divided the size into thirds, drew lines with a straight edge, and cut along those lines.
Step 3: Adding a Handle
On one of the boards I thought I'd add a handle. This proved to be harder than I expected - I had to use my jigsaw. I didn't really think this part through before I got started. I am the second owner of the jigsaw, I have no idea how old the blade is on it. I think I'm lucky I didn't break the blade. The blade was barely long enough to cut through the wood. It took forever to make the cuts and I found myself putting a lot of pressure on the blade and then forcing myself to back off the pressure. But in the end, I got it cut out. So all's well that ends well.
I think if I had to do it again, I would change the shape for aesthetic reasons and make the edge of the board more curved instead of a straight edge with a handle sticking out of it.
I used a belt sander and a couple of files/rasps to try to shape the handle a bit. I don't really have any pics of that and didn't think it made a huge difference. I was impatient. If I had put more effort into this I could have done a better job.
Step 4: Routing the Edges and Final Sanding
I used a roundover bit in my router and went around all the edges of all 5 boards, on both the top and bottom (this really helped the one board with the handle as well). I then sanded everything for what felt like forever, starting with 80 grit, and working up to 220. I used a power palm sander for everything except the 220 grit, which I did by hand. My son got into the act and helped sand a bit too.
Step 5: Wood Burning / Pyrography
Ahh, now for me, this is the fun bit. I'm a graphic designer by trade and have always enjoyed drawing. These are some of my very first wood burnings and I was happy enough with how they turned out.
Since these are all one-of-a-kind designs and my first time with wood burning, I did several tests on scrap wood. I used the offcuts from the board with the handle for my test burns.
One design had a paisley pattern, and I looked up several paisley designs online and mixed those together into something I liked and felt like I could probably draw and burn. So I drew it with a pencil on a scrap board, and then burned over it with my finest (smallest) bit. My wood burner came with quite a few bits, but I mostly use the fine point shown in the pic (I think the kit called it a "groove" bit). It's the one that feels to me the most like drawing with a fine point pen, albeit in slow motion.
I did a similar thing with an owl design - I looked up several owl designs online and mixed and matched some elements until I created something unique but with inspiration from multiple other sources.
For the monograms, I designed these in Adobe InDesign on the computer, and printed them out on paper. I scribbled across the back of the paper with pencil until it was covered. I placed the paper onto the boards and drew over the designs/letters. And when I pulled the paper away I was left with a light pencil drawing of the monograms on the wood, which I then went over with the burner.
I really enjoy the wood burning process. I like the smell, and the slow pace of the burning. I zone out and time just passes by as I'm working. These were my moments of Zen, to borrow a phrase from Jon Stewart.
Step 6: Finishing
I picked "Howard Butcher Block Conditioner" for the finish, which I also picked up at Menard's. It's a combination of mineral oil, beeswax, and I think Vitamin E. I like the look of finished wood and it's food safe. It applies most easily when it's warm. I put the bottle in hot water for several minutes and that worked perfectly for me. I applied several coats - the bottle recommends 3-4 coats for new boards. I used almost the full bottle by the time I finished all 5 boards with multiple coats.
Step 7: Some Finished Products
Here are a few shots of finished products. I have now given them away and everyone seemed happy with them.
Oh, I promised you a spoon. My wife bought an unfinished wooden spoon at a store called T.J. Maxx for $4.99. I doodled on it with a pencil and then did the wood burning. I will say drawing on the curved surfaces was challenging with both pencil and wood burner. I would like to do more of these, but so far this is the only one I've done.
Hope you enjoy this instructable! I enjoyed making them and I think the new owners will enjoy chopping them up. :)
One suggestion: my wife suggested that she will likely turn it over do all the cutting on the undecorated side of the board to protect the design on hers. Sounds like a fine suggestion to me. :)
If you liked this, please vote for it in the contests! I've entered it in both the Homemade Gifts contest, and also the Wood contest.