Introduction: Cutting Board With Curved Inlay

About: I love making things in my workshop, whether it be fine furniture or a simple tool or jig. Hopefully you'll be inspired and maybe learn a thing or two while following along. I look forward to your comments!

Typically when you make a cutting board, you just glue pieces of wood together in some fashion. It's a little trickier when adding a through inlay that does not run parallel to the grain or other pieces of the wood because you want to be sure that the grain lines up after inserting the inlay.

To do this, it is relatively simple but involves multiple steps because you have to remove a band of wood from the cutting board that is the same width as the inlay that you will insert. That way, the grain will continue to line up after you glue the boards together.

Step 1: Materials


  • I started with an edge grain cutting board that I had already made from alternating strips of cherry and maple.
  • I also created some strips of wood that I would use for the inlay. The wood has to be thin enough so that you can bend it along the curve without breaking it. Therefore, I used multiple thin strips that were roughly 1/8" thick or less. You can use whatever material you like. I used a combination of walnut, maple, and padauk.
  • You will need some MDF to create templates for the curves that you will cut. I made three curves, so that required at least three pieces of MDF: one for each curve.
  • Waterproof glue that is food safe. I used Titebond III
  • Cutting board oil (mineral oil). I used this one: Howard Products Butcher Block and Cutting Board Oil


Step 2: Draw the First Curve

Use one of your MDF templates to draw a line on your cutting board. It's not really necessary to draw the line, but I like to do this to view the placement of the curve before I do any cutting.

Then move and clamp the template away from the line to account for the width of your router base. My router base is 3" from the center of the bit, so I moved the template 3" to the right of the line.

Step 3: Route Along the Template

Position your router tightly against the template with one of your dado bits installed. I used a 31/64" bit for my first cut.

Set the depth of the dado bit so that it cuts far enough into the cutting board so that there will be enough of a smooth edge to position your flush trim bit's bearing along the edge. You don't want to cut all the way through the cutting board. A 1/2" depth should be fine.

Now use the router to cut a path along the line, but be sure to follow your template so that you get a nice, smooth cut.

Step 4: Cut Through the Cutting Board

Now use your band saw (or jig saw) to cut all the way through the cutting board. Just be sure that your blade stays away from the smooth edge that you just routed. You'll use your flush trim bit to clean up the edge after you have made the cut.

Step 5: Trim the Edge

Using your router with the flush trim bit, position the bearing against the smooth part of the curve (the part you cut with the router) and clean up any wood that is left over from your cut on the band saw/jig saw.

Step 6: Glue and Clamp

Apply glue to the edges of your cutting board along the curve and also to the thin strips that you will inlay. Clamp tightly and be sure that the ends of your cutting board are lined up.

Step 7: Trim the Excess Off the Strip

Trim the excess material off the strip by using your dado bit. Position the router on top of your template so that you can follow along the curve. Set your bit depth so that it is just a bit higher than the surface of your cutting board.

Clean up any remainder of the strip using a card scraper or by sanding.

Step 8: Repeat the Steps for the Second Curve

Repeat the same steps to make the initial cut with your router along your second curve, then cut it all the way through using your band saw or jig saw. Then use your flush trim bit to clean up the edge of the curve, and then glue in your inlay pieces.

For my second cut, I used a smaller (7/32") dado bit and then used padauk for the inlay to have a nice red color.

Step 9: Repeat for the Third Inlay

Repeat the same steps again for the third inlay. I used walnut this time and a 7/32" thickness.

Step 10: Finish the Cutting Board

Use a round over bit on your router to round over the edges of the cutting board. Then sand it smooth.

After sanding, soak the cutting board in water for a few seconds and let it dry. This will raise the grain. After the board has dried, sand it smooth with 220 grit sand paper and then wet it again to let the grain raise up one more time. After a final sanding, apply cutting board oil to protect the cutting board and to make the wood appear more vibrant.

Step 11: Watch It on YouTube

You can watch my video to follow along as I make it. If you like what you see, please Like, Share, and Subscribe to my channel !