Introduction: Easy Chopping Board

I had some leftover time and material at after another project so I used the tools at Techshop SF to make this chopping/serving board.  It was very simple to make, here's what I used:
  • Piece of nice hardwood.  I think the piece I had was maple but I got it from a bargain bin so I'm not sure.
  • Mitre saw.
  • 1 1/8" Forstner bit.
  • Belt sander.
  • Random-orbit palm sander.
  • Sand paper in 120, 22, 320, 400, 600grits.
  • Butcher's block oil/wax.
  • Bag-o-rags for applying/buffing the wax.

Step 1: Shape the Piece

I started with a small rectangular plank.  To add a bit of interest, I used the mitre saw to cut both ends at a shallow angle.  If you don't have a mitre saw, you could simply mark a pencil line across and cut by hand with a crosscut saw.  The shape and angle are up to you.  If you have a belt sander or a band saw you could cut along a curve.

Once I'd cut the ends, I used the belt sander to round all the corners.  The tension in the belt gave the slight round on the long sides, which I like.  The belt sander cuts very quickly so be careful you don't take away too much material.  It's really easy to round over the edges of the long sides by hand using 120 grit or a file if you want to be cautious.

Once you have the shape you want, use a drill press and a Forstner bit to cut the finger hole.  It's best to go slowly and keep backing off the cut to let the shavings out.  I used a sacrificial MDF board underneath since it reduced the amount of tear out.

Step 2: Sand Sand Sand

Once you have the shape you want, use a palm sander to sand the board on all sides.  I went all the way up from 120 to 600 grit, which makes it feel incredibly smooth and shiny.  You can use the palm sander to fine-tune the rounded corners as you go.  Between each grit, you can use a tack cloth to remove the dust from the previous grit.  That gives an even better finish and lets you see your progress.  The wood I had was very hard and it took a long time to get it smooth at 120 grit before I moved on to the other grits.

To sand the inside of the hole I did it by hand.  First I used 120 grit to round over the edges of the hole and remove the burrs from boring the hole then I worked up through the grits.  I'm not 100% happy with the result I got inside the hole, sanding dust tends to fill in all the little cracks while you're working, making it feel smoother than it is.

Step 3: Finish

Once you're happy with the shape and smoothness, use a food-safe finish to bring out the lustre of the wood.  I didn't have an electric buffer so I just used elbow-grease.  The wax I used was dissolved in mineral oil and it was simple to apply: 
  • Apply a thick coat with a rag, especially on the ends, which will soak up the wax.
  • Let it soak in the wax for 20 mins.
  • Wipe off the excess.
  • Buff to a shine.
  • Repeat.