American Flag Cutting Board

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Introduction: American Flag Cutting Board

About: Hi! I'm Matt and you can follow along as I [Build] new projects [Learn] new skills and [Repeat] the process. See all my projects and more at mwawoodworks.com

Amp up your summer gatherings with some patriotic flair! This American flag cutting board is as functional as it is beautiful. I'll show you the steps I used to carefully craft one of these beauties. This would make a great summer seasonal gift or a thoughtful handmade gift for military/veteran loves ones!

This is one of the more complicated cutting board designs to pull off. There are multiple skills to master inside this process that will test your woodworking skills and your patience. You'll learn end grain glue-ups and how to flatten them, building a board in sections, and the process of CNC inlay. This is a project that you definitely take one step at a time and you can pull off one impressive looking design!

Also, check out my other instructable on how I make my cutting board finish : https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Beeswax-Finish-for-Cutting-Boards/

Where to Follow along with my work:

Downloadable Project Plans: https://gumroad.com/mwawoodworks

My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://mwawoodworks.com

My YouTube (all my build videos): https://youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks

My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff): https://instagram.com/mwawoodworks

My Pinterest (things I find inspirational) : https://pinterest.com/mwawoodworks

Supplies

Materials & SuppliesTools
(1) 4/4 PurpleheartTable saw
(1) 4/4 Paduak (or bloodwood)Drum Sander
(1) 4/4 Hard MapleParallel Clamps
Water Resistant Wood GlueRandom Orbit Sander
Mineral OilCNC Machine
BeeswaxV-Groove Router Bit

If you'd like to see a list of all the tools and equipment I use in my shop, you can browse it HERE.

Step 1: Final Dimensions

Here's a helpful diagram of the final dimensions of this board. This can help you material plan for your build!

Step 2: Cutting the Colored Blanks

The first thing I need to do is cut everything to width at the table saw. How many blanks you need is really just dependent on how wide your lumber is. The wider the lumber the less blanks you’ll need. You need seven red stripes and six white stripes and each stripe should be about 1/5/8 thick when you turn them on edge.

The materials of choice for this board are paduak for the red stripes, maple for the white stripes and stars and purple heart for the star field.

You could use bloodwood for the red stripes as well but I think paudak ends up looking nicer.

Step 3: First Glue-up - Colored Panels

The next step is to glue everything up into blanks. I need a red blank and a white blank and these are made by gluing the segments together. Glue them up edge to edge. You should have one red panel, one white panel and one smaller purple heart panel.

The sizes of the panels I made are as follows:

  • Paduak (red) Panel: 12.5" x 22" x 1"
  • Maple (white) Panel: 10.5" x 22" x 1"
  • Purple Heart (blue) Panel - 12.5" x 9" x 1"
  • You also need a piece of maple big enough that it can be resawed and glued into a 6.25" x 9" x .05" end grain panel. This will be used to carve the positive side of the star inlay

Once the blanks are dried I run them through my drum sander to clean them up and flatten them. The reason I’m using a drum sander here is because the grain is running perpendicular to the tool. Depending on what kind of planer you ran this through that could cause a real mess and a bunch of tear out.

Step 4: Cutting the Strips... I Mean Stripes

OK now that these are all cleaned up I need to cut them into strips, or should I say stripes, because these will become the stripes in the final board. Remember, you're going for 1 5/8" strips here to give you enough thickness to plane the final board down to 1 1/2" thick.

I need seven red stripes and six white stripes as well as seven strips of purpleheart. I actually got seven white stripes out of my blank. I’ll save that extra one for another board down the road. You should take four of the red stripes and three of the white stripes and cut them to about 13.5" long. These will be used to make the shorter upper segment of stripes. The remaining three red stripes and three white stripes will be glued together to form the longer bottom half of the stripes.

Once I cut everything to length you can see how everything will end up fitting together.

Step 5: Second Glue-up - Creating the Stripes

The next step is to glue up the red and white stripes into segments. You'll make a smaller segment of red and white stripes (the section next to the union), a longer segment (the bottom half of the board) and a segment of purple heart for the union. And once again I ran them through the drum sander to make them a consistent thickness and clean up all the glue. At this point I have three segments. I have the long stripe section, the blue field section and the short stripe section that will go together like this.

Step 6: CNC Star Inlay

Now I need to use my CNC to cut the star inlays. This starts by making the relief cut in the purpleheart. This is the “negative” of the final image. I then use a maple end grain blank to cut out the “positive” image that will next inside the negative. If you’d like to see a more in-depth video on how to do inlay like this, leave a comment down below and let me know.

Next, I cut off the waste using my bandsaw. You could do this with a table saw if you want to. Then I just add glue to the negative space making sure to get good even coverage. I then press the positive into the negative and apply firm even pressure to ensure everything is glued together without any gaps.

Four clamps might seem like overkill, but seriously this is the main feature of this board. You don't want any unsightly gaps in the star inlays, so use as many clamps as you can get on that thing!

Step 7: Revealing the Inlay

Once the blank is dried I just use my bandsaw to cut off the top and reveal the inlay. This is my second favorite part of this process next to oiling the board. Its so stressful waiting to see if the inlay worked out and a celebration when it does!

Step 8: Final Glue-up - the Complete Board

The next step is to glue the three segments together. I typically like to glue this in two stages. First I glue the star field to the short stripes to make the top half of the board and then glue that to the long stripes to complete the glue-up.

Step 9: Sanding and Edge Treatment

OK, I then give the board another series of trips through the drum sander to clean it up. This is where the drum sander is pretty much a must-have tool. You cant do this step with a planer or you’ll rip out the star inlays.

To finish the board off I nip off the corners with a sander. I then use a sharp blade in my block planer to break the edges of the board. I highly recommend a block plane over using a router bit because even a slightly dull router bit will chew up this end grain, tearing up the board. Sanding end grain is a long process. Start with a low grit, maybe 60 grit to work out the deep grooves left by the drum sander. And then progress upward to 80, 120, 180 and finally 220 grit. Each successive grit takes less time and by the time you get to 220, it takes all of 5 minutes.

Step 10: Finishing the Cutting Board

After sanding everything to 220 grit I pop the grain with water and sand it back again. This will prevent the board from feeling fuzzy when it gets wet in the future. And the last step is by far the best step. I give the board a bath in mineral oil and watch the colors come to life.

I use straight mineral oil on all my boards before I seal them with wax paste. End grain boards are particularly thirsty so I apply enough oil that I don't see the board soaking it in any longer. I do not "dip" my boards into a tub of mineral oil. This usually over-saturates the boards and they leach oil for days. That's no beueno.

I then buff on a coat of wax to give the board a nice soft sheen. I have a tutorial on how to make an oil/wax paste that I use on all my boards. You can read it HERE.

There you have it. A US flag end grain cutting board!!

Step 11: THANK YOU!!!

I hope you found these instructions helpful! If you'd like to see more detail, check out this video where I walk step by step through the build!

If you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful, you can see more of my work in the following places:

My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://www.mwawoodworks.com

My YouTube (all my build videos): https://www.youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks

My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff):https://www.instagram.com/mwawoodworks

My Pinterest (things I find inspirational): https://www.pinterest.com/mwawoodworks

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    23 Comments

    0
    jaymorgan
    jaymorgan

    Question 8 months ago

    What size are the stars? Also can you buy stars already made to inlay if no access to CNC?

    0
    carl5blum
    carl5blum

    1 year ago on Step 11

    Hello: I hope this USA Flag is for display only. Thanks, Carl.

    0
    jjbauer5618
    jjbauer5618

    Reply 1 year ago

    I agree. Its attractive but i dont like the idea of going at the US Flag wit a knife.

    0
    unclehuntyhunty
    unclehuntyhunty

    Reply 1 year ago

    Why? As long as the oil is non-toxic this board would be fine for cutting.

    0
    skylane
    skylane

    Reply 1 year ago

    Apparently your are not an American and aren't aware of the respect that should be shown for the American Flag.
    It's not meant to be used as a tool.
    Here's an excerpt from Title 4 of the US Code.
    "(e)
    The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
    (f)
    The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
    (g)
    The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
    (h)
    The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
    0
    mwawoodworks
    mwawoodworks

    Reply 1 year ago

    All of those things have to do with the use of the flag tho. This is a cutting board, not a flag. Its a cutting board that looks like the flag, but its not a flag. This code only applies to respecting an actual flag.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    For those of us who live in America most of us respect our Flag and there are specific rules that should be complied with. The board is a representation of our Flag and with that representation should go all the due respect. It IS an American Flag made in wood. For all intent an purpose it IS an American Flag. Go look up the guidelines to our Flag you will be surprised.

    0
    mwawoodworks
    mwawoodworks

    Reply 1 year ago

    we're just going to have to agree to disagree. There's no such thing as "for all intents and purposes". It's either a flag that you hang and salute, or its not. This is not and thus doesn't apply. As I mentioned before, the veterans who own my flag boards love them. That's all I want.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    SMH....

    0
    RichardBronosky
    RichardBronosky

    Reply 1 year ago

    It's the intent and respect that matter. I burn hundreds of flags every year. I'm a member of American Legion Post 294. We have a flag deposit box out front and we have an Unserviceable Flags Ceremony 4 times a year.
    So, unless your intent is to disrespect the symbol, it is not wrong. If it's not a flag, it's not our Flag. If it's not a flag, it's a symbol. Treat it respectfully in whatever way conforms to your Freedom.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    You burn the Flags because that is the proper way to dispose of torn or worn American Flags. That is the protocol. Read up on the guidelines please.

    0
    carl5blum
    carl5blum

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hello: I worked for a big company. Someone bought door mats with the company symbol on them. The VP saw them and had them destroyed. He said "We don't wipe our feet on the companies symbol." So I wouldn't be comfortable with taking a knife to the US Flag. It is a nice display though. Carl.

    0
    unclehuntyhunty
    unclehuntyhunty

    Reply 1 year ago

    I didn't realise you live in a such a sensitive snowflake society. Outside your declining country there are genuine freedoms where people have respect for each other, not for meaningless symbols, guns and oppression of anyone who does't agree with the mainstream. If people aren't free to use the flag as the you see fit then you don't really have freedom, you have fascism. But I think you already know what sort of society you've created, the rest of the world feels sad for you.

    0
    jamesdean77
    jamesdean77

    1 year ago

    Do you recommend a specific wax for your last step?

    0
    mwawoodworks
    mwawoodworks

    Reply 1 year ago

    I use beeswax

    0
    ddj0195
    ddj0195

    1 year ago

    Excellent instructable. Your star technique is fabulous. For those who have not worked with paduak previously, a word of caution. Paduak is gorgeous but the wood dust will stain your clothes and is nearly impossible to remove. Wear a work apron and keep your work space tidy. The results are well worth the extra bit of effort.

    0
    mwawoodworks
    mwawoodworks

    Reply 1 year ago

    and your fingers look like you've been eating doritos LOL

    0
    ddj0195
    ddj0195

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, but that does wear off after a while. I always have a box of nitrile gloves handy when I chop jalapeños or work with chemicals in the workshop or play with paduak. 😉