Introduction: Mosaic Scrap Wood Cutting Board

About: Hey, I'm Zac, I'm a Toronto area contractor turned furniture maker and lover of DIY.

Do you have a bunch of pieces of scrap wood collecting dust in your workshop? You know, all of those random offcuts that you can't quite bring yourself to throw away. We all have them, there's no shame in admitting it! Let's take all those random pieces and turn them into something beautiful.

In this post, I'll show you how I turned some scrap wood leftover from another project in a cool mosaic cutting board.

If you'd prefer to watch this project as a video I've included a link to my YouTube video of it, but if you'd prefer to read how to do it, simply scroll down!

Step 1: Materials

Ok so here's everything you're going to need:

-Some scrap wood (the amount will vary depending on the size of the board you want to make and the species doesn't really matter, but I like to use two different hard woods that have contrasting colours)

-Wood glue

-Wood filler

-Butcher's block oil

-Kitchen cabinet handles

-Spray bottle and water

Step 2: Cut All of Your Wood

The first order of business was ripping all of my wood into uniform dimensions. I started with 2 - 1x4” boards and ripped each of them into four 1” strips using my table saw. The great thing about this project is that it doesn't matter what size of wood you start with, so use up all of your little pieces. You just want to rip everything into 1"x1" strips. I then used a miter saw to cut off any jagged edges and chop the wood into random lengths.

Step 3: Prep Your Wood

After I was done cutting everything to random lengths I was left with a bunch of wood blocks. Depending on how sharp your blades are and how patient you are when you're cutting you might have to clean up the ends of your blocks a bit. I spent 15 minutes sanding off any loose splinters and tear-outs using a 120 grit sand block on the wood blocks. It was a tedious, time-consuming task, but important since I needed each block of wood to fit very closely to the pieces next to it.

Step 4: Prep Your Work Area and Pick Your Pattern

With my wood all prepped and ready to go, I used a large piece of plastic sheeting to cover my work surface and secured it with tape. This helps to keep glue off of your work surface. I knew I wanted my board to be 12” x 20” so I grabbed my tape again and marked those measurements on the plastic using blue painters tape, creating a template for my build. This step really helps to keep me organized while I work and prevents me from inadvertently making my board too big or too small.

With all of the prep out of the way, it's time to have a little fun and unleash some creativity. I started arranging all of my blocks into a visually appealing pattern. I decided to go for a gradient faded look. When it comes to picking a pattern, there really aren’t any rules, just make sure you stagger the wood pieces a bit, so the seams don’t line up right next to one another. The board will be more stable that way. I moved pieces around until I had a pattern I was pleased with and then I was ready for glue.

Step 5: Glue and Clamp It

In order to prevent myself from losing my pattern, I just rolled the blocks on to their sides and started applying glue. Once I had a healthy bead of glue on each block I rolled them back into place and clamped them together. I clamped the board until a little bit of glue squeezed out between the joints, if it didn’t, I tightened the clamps a bit more. Once the clamps were secured I let the glue dry for about 45 minutes.

Step 6: Smooth It Out

The next step was to put my newly created wooden board through my thickness planer, to completely smooth and even out the surface. By running it through the planer a few times, adjusting the blades a little lower with each pass, I eventually flattened out the board. Of course, not everyone has access to a planer, you could achieve similar results using a belt sander, or even a regular palm sander, but it would take considerably more time.

Once I was done planing the board I sprayed it with a fine mist of warm water. The warm water helps to swell the grain and raise any loose grains of wood. Once the board had dried I used a random orbital sander to sand off all of the swelled grain and raised loose ends. This helps the board feel smooth and also means that if anyone puts anything wet on it in the future the grain won't swell and ruin the texture of the board.

I started sanding with 80 grit sandpaper and used progressively finer grits until I reached 220 grit, at which point I was satisfied it was smooth enough.

Step 7: Trim the Ends and Break the Edges

The board was really starting to look good, but it wasn’t square yet. To fix that, I used my miter saw to cut both ends, so they were perfectly straight. Once that was done, I needed to take care of the edges since they were a little sharp. I used a chamfer bit in my cordless trim router and applied a slight chamfer to every edge on the board.

Step 8: Add Handles

All serving trays need handles, otherwise, how would you ever pick them up?

Here’s a little trick to add handles. Turn the handles upside down, take a piece of tape and put it over the bottom. Then grab a pencil or anything sharp and poke holes through the tape, where the screws would go. Then peel the tape off, place it on your wood and drill your screw holes in the places you marked the tape. Super easy!

Using my tap trick I drilled 4 holes and screwed two black kitchen cabinet handles to the tray.

Step 9: Apply the Finish

Moving into the home stretch it was time to seal my new board. I applied butcher’s block oil, which is a food-safe finish, to protect the cutting board and also to enhance the colour and bring out the grain of the wood. I dipped the rag into the oil and rubbed it on in the direction of the wood. Once it dried, I was done!

Step 10: Enjoy Your New Tray!

In less than a day, I had a really beautiful new accent for my kitchen or dining room. My DIY scrap wood mosaic cutting board, or tray, is functional and attractive. It was an easy build, great for beginner woodworkers, and I hope that I’ve inspired you to give it a try.

If you do try this one out, be sure to let me know in the comments! And feel free to ask me any questions about the process if I missed anything!

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