2x4 End Grain Cutting Board / Butcher Block




Introduction: 2x4 End Grain Cutting Board / Butcher Block

This is my first Instructable ever.

I want this post to be informative and simple.

Let's do this! ^_^

Step 1: Materials


  • 2 - 2x4 UNTREATED: $1.95
  • TiteBond III Glue "Waterproof": $8.00
  • Mineral Oil: $3.99 "Food Safe Finish"
  • Gulf Wax: $3.99 "Food Safe Finish"
  • 1" Anti-Skid Pads w/screws: $2.95
  • Sand Paper (not shown)

Machines and Tools

  • Bar Clamps
  • Quick hand clamps
  • Glue Scraper
  • Power Miter Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Surfacer/Planer
  • Radial Arm Saw
  • Random Orbit Sander
  • Router

Step 2: Power Miter Saw

  • Cut two 2x4 in half. Right at 48"

Step 3: Table Saw

1st Cut

  • Rip all 2x4's in half at 1-3/4", USE A PUSH STICK!!!

2nd Cut

  • Set the rip fence to 1-1/2"
  • Cut off all the curved edges.

Step 4: Clamps

Clamping - 5 total clamps

  1. Lay cardboard on the table.
  2. Lay 3 bar clamps on the cardboard. (1 clamp in the middle, 2 for the outsides)
  3. Lay 2x4 material on clamps.
  4. Spread glue on the "smooth" edge of every joint, (do not glue your boards to your metal clamps) ^_^
  5. Put the last 2 clamps on top.
  6. Apply pressure. ALSO use a rubber mallet to hit boards that warp up.
  7. Allow the glue to cure for minimum of 1 hour (longer is better). Do not stress joints for 24 hours.

Step 5: Surface

Glue Scraping

  1. Use 2 hand clamps to hold material.
  2. Use a glue scraper.
  3. Scrape the BIG beads of glue. (don't sweat the small stuff) ^_^

Surfacer Machine

  1. Measure your material thickness. Mine comes out to be around 1-7/16".
  2. Set surfacer to above measurement.
  3. Make 1/16" cut every pass until the glue beads are completely gone.
  4. Do the same on the other side of the board until the beads of glue are gone.

FYI: I feel that any and every cutting board project practically requires the use of a surfacer somewhere in the process. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to create a perfectly smooth, even surface...quickly. If you do not have a surfacer, then perhaps call a local lumber company.

Random Orbit Sander (Optional)

  • I used 120 grit on both sides

Step 6: Crosscut

Radial Arm Saw

  • Cut the board in half.

If you have a table saw "sled", then use that.

I didn't have a table saw sled so I improvised and used a radial arm saw for the wide crosscuts.

Crosscut in fourths if that's what you need.

Table Saw Crosscutting

  • Set the rip fence to 2-1/8"
    • 2-1/8" will be how tall my cutting boards will be.
    • By crosscutting at 2-1/8", I will have 1 rectangle cutting board (15"x12") and 1 square cutting board (12"x12").
    • IF you want 2 cutting boards that are rectangle (15"x12"), then crosscut at 1-5/8", give or take.

Step 7: Alternate Tree Rings

Flip Up and Rotate

  1. Align all of the crosscut pieces so they look like the original board.
  2. Flip all of the pieces up on END in the same direction (so you can see the tree rings on top)
  3. Next, rotate every "even number" 180 degrees. 2,4,6,8,10 etc.
  4. Next step is gluing.

Step 8: Clamps

Clamping - 3 total clamps

  • This step is almost identical to the first gluing process.
    • The only difference is to not glue the 2 cutting boards together near the middle.
  • I prefer NOT to wipe the glue on this step. If you wipe the glue, it will push the glue into the end grain and then cause you to have to sand more in the next step.

Boards on the sides

  • I used 3 quick grip clamps to clamp two boards on the sides so the cutting boards would stay straight.
  • Once the metal bar clamps are tightened, then uninstall the two boards on the side.
  • Do not let them cure on the sides.

Step 9: Surface and Edges

Glue Scraping

  • Scrape just the BIG beads of glue.

FYI I did not use the surfacer for the end grain surface. I think it is too tough on the blades to make a cut on the end grain. If you have a surfacer and you want to use it, then that is up to you.

Random Orbit Sanding

Sand both cutting boards, top and bottom.

Time: took me 20mins to thoroughly do the job.

Sand evenly on the surface. Otherwise, you will have low spots like mine. oops ^_^

  • I used 3 different grit levels: (it's what I had at the time)
    1. 40 grit
    2. 100 grit
    3. 150 grit

Table Saw - Cut to Dimensions

1 - 12x12

1 - 15x12

  1. Shave a little on any given side.
  2. Rotate 90 degrees clockwise and shave a little on that side.
  3. Rotate 90 degrees again and cut to dimension.
  4. Rotate 90 degrees one last time and cut to dimension.
  5. Repeat for the other cutting board at the given dimensions.

Router Edges - 1/2" Round Over

  • Router all 4 corners first. To prevent "chip out" on the edges.
  • Then, router all of the edges, top and bottom.

Sand Edges

  • I used a sanding block with grit levels of:
    1. 120 grit
    2. 150 grit
    3. 220 grit

Step 10: Finish

Paste wax finish - Food Safe!

Most people just use pure mineral oil to finish their cutting boards.

I wanted to make a finish that was more water resistant. So I came up with an 8:1 mixture that uses a food safe wax, paraffin wax!

8:1 Ratio

  • 1 cup mineral oil = 8 ounces
  • Half block of Gulf Wax (paraffin wax) = 1 ounce
  1. Melt the paraffin wax and the mineral oil together. I used a mug in simmering hot water.

Apply the paste wax finish

  1. I heated the paste wax a little before applying. (I feel it spreads better that way)
  2. I applied the paste wax with my hands. My clean hands of course!^_^
  3. Allow the first layer of finish to soak for 20 mins.
  4. Apply three more layers before using!

DO NOT HEAT UP THE CUTTING BOARD. If the cutting board gets hot, it will dry the wood and begin to crack. We do not want cracks in our cutting board.

Step 11: Anti-Skid Pads

Anti-Skit Pads

  • Install pads 1" away or more from the corners.


My rectangle cutting board was a little warped, so I used a small washer to give the pad a boost.

Step 12: Care and Maintenence


  • Apply a layer of mineral oil and wax once a month or when cutting board feels dry.
    • Allow the mineral oil time to soak.
  • DO NOT allow liquids and water to stand on the cutting board for long periods of time.
  • Be careful when cutting raw meat (beef, poultry and fish). Your cutting board must be thoroughly waxed.
    • I personally will NOT cut raw meat on my cutting board. I sometimes will for cooked meats.
  • Sanitize your cutting board with mild soap and water. Dry thoroughly.
    • You could also use a fresh cut lemon to sanitize and freshen the smell.

Sanding - Last result

If you feel your cutting board is beyond worn, then sanding may be your best option.

  1. Use Random Orbit Sander with grit levels of:
    1. 150 grit
    2. 220 grit (optional)

Step 13: ENJOY!!!

This was a fun and inexpensive project! Materials cost me approximately $15.

I hope my post was informative and simple like I said.

Thanks for reading!

Please vote and help me in the 2x4 Contest ^_^

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

-Colossians 3:23

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    6 years ago

    I just finished making an end grain cutting board from red oak. I did it pretty much the same as you did here in your project. However, my assembled board is still pulling itself apart and warping. The wood had been sitting out in the back of my shop for well over a year before I cut it up. I guess it takes a bit of luck sometimes.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I did, and wrote about, woodworking for many years for print magazines and books: kiln dried is one thing for construction lumber, usually making sure moisture content is under 20% , while kiln dried for furniture making--classify cutting boards here--is another thing entirely, often as low as 6%. I'd suggest investing in a low cost moisture meter. Such a little tool can save more than a little heartbreak, especially after a labor intensive project like end grain cutting boards. I have had three favorite woods for a long time when making cutting boards, but generally avoid end grain work (because it's too much work and hardwoods are harder to work than pine and fir): check out hard maple; walnut and cherry.

    Oh, yeah. Moisture content is a variable, changing with the environmental humidity, but the change is slow. Try to make certain wood used for any project is close in moisture content from piece to piece so any changes are close.

    Enjoy. Woodworking of any type is one of the world's great hobbies.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thank you for the informative post!

    I agree, warping can definitely be a moisture issue. Too high of moisture, and too much moisture leaving quickly can cause warping.

    A good practice to prevent warping would be to use a hard woods like maple, cherry or walnut. (Says the guy who use 2x4’s)lol Actually, the best solution is to make your cutting board really thick. Instead of 1” or 1-1/2” thick, try making it 2” or more to prevent warping.


    Reply 6 years ago

    I will be honest, my cutting board was a little warped on one corner.

    I wonder if my sanding caused the warp or if it was because of the way I glued it in the clamps.

    I'm not the luckiest either.^_^


    Reply 6 years ago

    I would think the clamping affected the "flatness" of the project. I have read where the pro's use special clamping devices to keep their boards flat while the glue is drying. But if you have a contrary board in there somewhere it's gonna do something... particularly if a knot was close to a cut edge.


    6 years ago

    apmoritz2, great job on the cutting board. Your instructions and pictures will make it easy for anyone to build a cutting board. Good tips on maintenance of the cutting board as well. Good luck in the contest.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thank you for your kind words!

    FYI, I did place third in the competition! I was so happy! I won an instructables t-shirt and a $50 gift card to Deluth Trading company, however, I got the shirt, but never received the $50. Oh well! The best gift was getting to make something new and being able to share it.


    6 years ago

    that was an awesome first instructable, cant wait to see more.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thank you for your kind words!

    I planned on making new instructables back then, but I got my first teaching job as a woodshop teacher in Kansas and never made time since. I got too busy getting married and having kids after that.lol

    I do plan/hope to make more instructables in the future that are woods related.

    Great job! Did you leave the Wax on there or did you wipe it off...?


    Reply 9 months ago

    When I made the 2x4 cutting board at the time, I let the oil/wax mixture soak in, then I wiped off any extra.


    3 years ago

    OK...I just had to offer some corrections. First, the author was nice enough to post all this info., so how about a nice "thank you" before critiquing him. I do lots of wood working and yes hardwoods are traditionally used. however, there is no rule against douglas fir, most people arent using a cleaver on meat in their kitchens anymore, and it is great practice before spending good money to buy the wood for hardwood boards. also, if you look up the wood density charts, douglas fir actually has a surprising high density rating, which comes in at the lower ranges for maple and mahogany, two woods used all the time for boards. So, just because you wouldn't do it, or it might only last a few years, it will save knife edges and it looks great. on to the mineral oil issue. for you folks claiming mineral oil is dangerous, i can assure you that is we said "put warm water on to seal it"...some people would say that was dangerous. Mineral oil is sold over the counter and while a small percentage of people might have some minor adverse impact, almost nothing in life is completely safe. If you breathe too fast, you can hyperventiate. If you drink too much water, you can die. So, mineral oil is say for 99% of the population and it will not rot on your board as will olive oil or coconut oil. For those folks who claim I am mistaken, go coat your board with either of those two oils....I will do mine in mineral oil. NOW, WE can put them in a nice hot box out in the sun for a week. in a week, you wont even be able to get near your board. it will stink and be putrid. mine will not. hope this helps


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Since my first instructable, six years ago, I have learned so much since then. The 2x4 cutting board has been great. It was cheap and simple to make. Now, with a better paying job, I can afford the nicer woods like maple and walnut. I still use mineral oil and have never had any problems. Sometimes, I will even use a fresh cut lemon to sanitize and hydrate my cutting boards with.

    Roddy Scott
    Roddy Scott

    6 years ago

    I agree with you on the raw meat!

    A good sterilising agent is to use a cut lime and rub it on the surface after cleaning.

    Nice work!


    6 years ago

    Thanks for that. Very cool!

    I did a lot of reading before making some wood items for the kitchen. Mineral oil, especially in the initial quantities and in the upkeep frequency you listed: Not recommended.

    Olive oil, cold pressed, virgin, olive oil is actually best. As long as you don't saturate the wood on initial application or too often after, it soaks into the grain and does not become rancid-the major complaint against it.

    I'd also not use such softwoods either.


    Reply 6 years ago

    Thank you for your input!

    I always wondered if olive oil was a better than mineral oil. I guess, I have heard both opinions, but never knew what was true. Thank you for sharing.

    I agree, that softwoods are not desired more than hard woods (maple, walnut). However, after using the 2x4 material as a cutting board, I would say that it holds up nice so far. As long as I keep a smooth polished and waxed surface, it works for me. ^_^


    Reply 6 years ago

    Surely. The key, as MarkL failed to catch, is not soaking the wood in it. Apply the type I indicated lightly to the surface and give it time to soak in. Any build up on surface will go rancid. If it's in the wood fibre: It will not.
    And besides, removing rancid oil from over saturation is still preferable, IMO, to toxic mineral oil! lolerz


    Reply 6 years ago

    Mineral oil is food safe and Olive oil will spoil. Professionals use mineral oil.


    Reply 6 years ago

    Olive oil is a perishable food and will eventually go rancid. There is nothing wrong with mineral oil especially in these minimal amounts.


    Reply 6 years ago

    As I said: Actually, No.
    Only if you over do it and oil is forced to sit on the surface.
    As I said, if you use the type I indicated and do, as I indicated, it does n-o-t in fact go rancid.
    Again: Only goes rancid if you pile it on and 'refresh' it far too often.