Introduction: Bass Clef Cutting Board

I wanted to make my girlfriend a gift for Christmas. She's a musician (teacher + performer), so what's better than a pixelated music note cutting board? I drew inspiration from this instructable ( but deviated a little bit in the process. The gift was a surprise, so I had to work on it while the lady was out, including the trip to Rockler to buy wood and supplies. The end result was great and the lady loved it. So here's the instructable.


1. For the wood I went with purpleheart wood (1/4" thick) and african mahogany (1/4" thick). Pick the wood with the color that your design dictates. The purple heart would cover the clef sign, and the mahogany would cover the rest, so I picked two boards of mahogany and one of the purpleheart.

2. Butcher block oil or mineral oil. Something food safe.

3. Sanding pads and supplies.

4. Acrylic sheet

5. Painting props (Don't know what they're really called, but I kept the board on them to dry)

6. Scrap wood for jigs

7. Cloth rags and applicators


1. Miter Saw

2. Table Saw

3. Belt Sander

4. Orbital Sander

5. Protective gear (safety glasses, ear protection and respirator)

6. Acrylic sheet

7. Drill

Step 1: Design

I did a general web search for musical pixel art and saw this image on pinterest. I decided that every pixel would be a square half inch on the side. Based on that I calculated the wood required for the clef sign and the rest of the board.

Step 2: Cut, Rip, Saw!

Time to cut the boards into pixels.

1. Use the table saw to cut the boards into strips 1/2" wide.

2. Once you have the strips, cut them into blocks using the miter saw. I went with six strips at a time, to save time.

I stored the pixels in different boxes based on color.

Step 3: Get Yer Glue On!

I made a jig to create a boundary for the pixels. It's basically two narrow planks of wood screwed at the corner. Place the jig onto the acrylic sheet. Line up the pixels and start gluing.

I created three blocks as shown. The boards will be covered with glue and will look messy. This is OK, we'll clean up in the next step.

Step 4: Sand and Clean the Blocks

Now to clean the blocks and cut the sides so they align properly.

The boards have to be level. We have two ways of doing this. One, use a planer and plane small layers off until you reach the desired depth. Alternately, you can use a belt sander and sand away the glue and level at the same time. I went with the belt sander. For this step, I just went with 80 grit sand paper.

The sander can hurl wood that's not clamped down, and you can't sand the area that's been clamped. So I made a 'jig' that would hold the boards as I sanded them. Nothing fancy, just four blocks of plywood, drilled in place.

Place the board in the 'jig' and sand away. Be careful with the belt sander, it's a powerful machine and can take away a lot of wood if kept in one place for a long time. I just ran the sander up and down the blocks until they were level and all the glue was removed.

To verify the level, run a ruler lengthwise over the block.

Once the blocks have been sander and leveled, I took them over to the table saw to align the edges.

Step 5: Align the Edges

Use the table saw to snip off protruding pixels from the edge. Do this for all the sides, so that the blocks align properly.

Step 6: Join the Blocks and Sand Them

Glue the blocks and clamp them.

Sand again using the belt planer and 80 grit belts.

Step 7: Add the Border

Now to add the border. I cut 1" wide strips of pine and glued them around the block, as shown.

Step 8: Trim the Border and Level the Board

Once the glue had time to work its magic, I used the miter saw to chop the edges down to 1/2". Then I used the orbital sander to level the entire board, starting with 150 grit and finally 220 grit.

Step 9: The Finish

I intended to use this board as a cutting board. So I drowned the board in butcher block oil and mineral oil. Place the board on the paint props (or whatever they're called) while it dries. I applied multiple coats until the wood wouldn't soak in any more.

Step 10: Enjoy!

The lady loved the gift and didn't want to use it as a chopping board, so it's to be kept in the music room on a dish display rack.

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