2x4 End Grain Cutting Board / Butcher Block

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Introduction: 2x4 End Grain Cutting Board / Butcher Block

This is my first Instructable ever.

I want this post to be informative and simple.

Let's do this! ^_^

Step 1: Materials

Materials

  • 2 - 2x4 UNTREATED: $1.95
  • TiteBond III Glue "Waterproof": $8.00
  • Mineral Oil: $3.99 "Food Safe Finish"
  • Gulf Wax: $3.99 "Food Safe Finish"
  • 1" Anti-Skid Pads w/screws: $2.95
  • Sand Paper (not shown)

Machines and Tools

  • Bar Clamps
  • Quick hand clamps
  • Glue Scraper
  • Power Miter Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Surfacer/Planer
  • Radial Arm Saw
  • Random Orbit Sander
  • Router

Step 2: Power Miter Saw

  • Cut two 2x4 in half. Right at 48"

Step 3: Table Saw

1st Cut

  • Rip all 2x4's in half at 1-3/4", USE A PUSH STICK!!!

2nd Cut

  • Set the rip fence to 1-1/2"
  • Cut off all the curved edges.

Step 4: Clamps

Clamping - 5 total clamps

  1. Lay cardboard on the table.
  2. Lay 3 bar clamps on the cardboard. (1 clamp in the middle, 2 for the outsides)
  3. Lay 2x4 material on clamps.
  4. Spread glue on the "smooth" edge of every joint, (do not glue your boards to your metal clamps) ^_^
  5. Put the last 2 clamps on top.
  6. Apply pressure. ALSO use a rubber mallet to hit boards that warp up.
  7. Allow the glue to cure for minimum of 1 hour (longer is better). Do not stress joints for 24 hours.

Step 5: Surface

Glue Scraping

  1. Use 2 hand clamps to hold material.
  2. Use a glue scraper.
  3. Scrape the BIG beads of glue. (don't sweat the small stuff) ^_^

Surfacer Machine

  1. Measure your material thickness. Mine comes out to be around 1-7/16".
  2. Set surfacer to above measurement.
  3. Make 1/16" cut every pass until the glue beads are completely gone.
  4. Do the same on the other side of the board until the beads of glue are gone.

FYI: I feel that any and every cutting board project practically requires the use of a surfacer somewhere in the process. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to create a perfectly smooth, even surface...quickly. If you do not have a surfacer, then perhaps call a local lumber company.

Random Orbit Sander (Optional)

  • I used 120 grit on both sides

Step 6: Crosscut

Radial Arm Saw

  • Cut the board in half.

If you have a table saw "sled", then use that.

I didn't have a table saw sled so I improvised and used a radial arm saw for the wide crosscuts.

Crosscut in fourths if that's what you need.

Table Saw Crosscutting

  • YOU MUST USE A PUSH STICK!
  • Set the rip fence to 2-1/8"
    • 2-1/8" will be how tall my cutting boards will be.
    • By crosscutting at 2-1/8", I will have 1 rectangle cutting board (15"x12") and 1 square cutting board (12"x12").
    • IF you want 2 cutting boards that are rectangle (15"x12"), then crosscut at 1-5/8", give or take.

Step 7: Alternate Tree Rings

Flip Up and Rotate

  1. Align all of the crosscut pieces so they look like the original board.
  2. Flip all of the pieces up on END in the same direction (so you can see the tree rings on top)
  3. Next, rotate every "even number" 180 degrees. 2,4,6,8,10 etc.
  4. Next step is gluing.

Step 8: Clamps

Clamping - 3 total clamps

  • This step is almost identical to the first gluing process.
    • The only difference is to not glue the 2 cutting boards together near the middle.
  • I prefer NOT to wipe the glue on this step. If you wipe the glue, it will push the glue into the end grain and then cause you to have to sand more in the next step.

Boards on the sides

  • I used 3 quick grip clamps to clamp two boards on the sides so the cutting boards would stay straight.
  • Once the metal bar clamps are tightened, then uninstall the two boards on the side.
  • Do not let them cure on the sides.

Step 9: Surface and Edges

Glue Scraping

  • Scrape just the BIG beads of glue.

FYI I did not use the surfacer for the end grain surface. I think it is too tough on the blades to make a cut on the end grain. If you have a surfacer and you want to use it, then that is up to you.

Random Orbit Sanding

Sand both cutting boards, top and bottom.

Time: took me 20mins to thoroughly do the job.

Sand evenly on the surface. Otherwise, you will have low spots like mine. oops ^_^

  • I used 3 different grit levels: (it's what I had at the time)
    1. 40 grit
    2. 100 grit
    3. 150 grit

Table Saw - Cut to Dimensions

1 - 12x12

1 - 15x12

  1. Shave a little on any given side.
  2. Rotate 90 degrees clockwise and shave a little on that side.
  3. Rotate 90 degrees again and cut to dimension.
  4. Rotate 90 degrees one last time and cut to dimension.
  5. Repeat for the other cutting board at the given dimensions.

Router Edges - 1/2" Round Over

  • Router all 4 corners first. To prevent "chip out" on the edges.
  • Then, router all of the edges, top and bottom.

Sand Edges

  • I used a sanding block with grit levels of:
    1. 120 grit
    2. 150 grit
    3. 220 grit

Step 10: Finish

Paste wax finish - Food Safe!

Most people just use pure mineral oil to finish their cutting boards.

I wanted to make a finish that was more water resistant. So I came up with an 8:1 mixture that uses a food safe wax, paraffin wax!

8:1 Ratio

  • 1 cup mineral oil = 8 ounces
  • Half block of Gulf Wax (paraffin wax) = 1 ounce
  1. Melt the paraffin wax and the mineral oil together. I used a mug in simmering hot water.

Apply the paste wax finish

  1. I heated the paste wax a little before applying. (I feel it spreads better that way)
  2. I applied the paste wax with my hands. My clean hands of course!^_^
  3. Allow the first layer of finish to soak for 20 mins.
  4. Apply three more layers before using!

DO NOT HEAT UP THE CUTTING BOARD. If the cutting board gets hot, it will dry the wood and begin to crack. We do not want cracks in our cutting board.

Step 11: Anti-Skid Pads

Anti-Skit Pads

  • Install pads 1" away or more from the corners.

Modifications

My rectangle cutting board was a little warped, so I used a small washer to give the pad a boost.

Step 12: Care and Maintenence

Surface

  • Apply a layer of mineral oil and wax once a month or when cutting board feels dry.
    • Allow the mineral oil time to soak.
  • DO NOT allow liquids and water to stand on the cutting board for long periods of time.
  • Be careful when cutting raw meat (beef, poultry and fish). Your cutting board must be thoroughly waxed.
    • I personally will NOT cut raw meat on my cutting board. I sometimes will for cooked meats.
  • Sanitize your cutting board with mild soap and water. Dry thoroughly.
    • You could also use a fresh cut lemon to sanitize and freshen the smell.

Sanding - Last result

If you feel your cutting board is beyond worn, then sanding may be your best option.

  1. Use Random Orbit Sander with grit levels of:
    1. 150 grit
    2. 220 grit (optional)

Step 13: ENJOY!!!

This was a fun and inexpensive project! Materials cost me approximately $15.

I hope my post was informative and simple like I said.

Thanks for reading!

Please vote and help me in the 2x4 Contest ^_^

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

-Colossians 3:23

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    82 Discussions

    I'm sorry, but you shouldn't make cutting boards from Fir trees (Pine, Redwood, Cedar, etc.) or oil bearing trees(Teak). The sap and oil can leech into the food.

    19 replies

    Hello bnaivar,

    Thank you for posting your concerns about the use of 2x4 Douglas Fir wood.

    I would like to say that before I used 2x4 Douglas Fir wood, I did some research to see the level of toxicity of the wood fibers and the sap.

    My conclusion is that neither the wood fibers or the sap is toxic to humans or the human digestive system. However, there have been cases where few have been mildly allergic to the oil/sap. All the research indicates that allergies to Douglas Fir sap are rare.

    Here is the link to the wood database:

    http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/softwoods/douglas-fir/

    As far as leeching into the food, I have been using the cutting board for quite some time and have not noticed a sappy or wood taste.

    Indeed. When you are cutting on the wood it actually frees saps that are anti-bacterial. I always use all sorts of wooden cutting boards (never ever plastics). If the wood has been dried enough you will be okay with almost all wood sorts.

    I would be more concerned with using mineral oil for protection. This is really not a good idea. Use natural oil and wax instead!

    Thomas, I have made end grain cutting boards for years using mineral oil which is a safe natural product and does not interfere with the self sealing properties that cause the end grain style to be safest. While you are correct regarding the antibacterial properties in the wood itself, you will not find any recommendations for making cutting boards with soft open pored woods because that invites bacteria growth. Rockhard maple is your best and safest bet. My end grain cutting boards have always been made using tight grained wood and mineral oil and I personally cut raw meats, poultry and shellfish on them without any incident.

    That article addresses ingestion of large quantities of mineral oil as a dietary supplement - not as a wood treating agent on a cutting surface. Apples to oranges.

    The fact that you did not suffer from using mineral oil does not mean it's without influence on your health. Our former chancellor Helmut Schmidt died at over 90 while smoking (at least) one pack of cigarettes each day his whole life. That does not prove that smoking is harmless. Anyway, the board look really nice :-)

    Thank you for sharing!

    I never knew mineral oil was potentially harmful to my health.

    I used the mineral oil to hydrate the wood on the cutting board. I figure as long as I am not consuming the mineral oil in mass quantities I should be good. Besides, most of the mineral oil is absorbed into the wood, not much in getting into my digestive system.

    With all due respect, I think that Robert is simply misinformed. Not only is mineral oil safe to use, but they actually sell butcher block mineral oil specifically for this purpose. Yes - there are different grades of mineral oil. You wouldn't want to use industrial lubricant obviously. But food or pharmaceutical grade mineral oil is PERFECTLY SAFE, hence the reason it is labeled for said purposes. The paranoia is totally unfounded.

    Hi Thomas, I'll assume that your reply is not condescending (even if you are German:)) and will not take insult. Mineral oil is composed of carbon and hydrogen and is also available under the name Vaseline. There are no health risks associated with its use.

    Well, it depends. There are clean mineral oils and they are harmless. But so often they are simply cheap. Here in Europe we recently had a case where the Mafia in Italy mixed mineral oil with olive oil and quite some people got sick mostly because mineral oils are usually used for industrial cases (lubrication) and are contaminated. A machine wont care. A human will. I don't say you will die and the amount on the wood for coating is very few. It's just: better safe than sorry.

    So use food grade mineral oil, and it will be perfectly safe.

    MarkL90,

    I agree that maple wood is much more preferred than 2x4 material. I mean who makes a cutting board out of 2x4 material...okay I did, but the truth is I have always wanted to see how it would work and SO FAR it works for me. I have yet to encounter any incidents either.

    Thank you for sharing!

    One problem with using a natural oil like olive or canola is that ALL food oils eventually go rancid- the mineral oil won't. The oil becoming rancid is due to oxidation of the oil.

    Not necessarily. I often use simple olive oil to redo wood. For a long lasting coating use linseed oil.

    Nice instructable. Regarding the Fir though, soft and open pored woods allow food to be lodged in them and causes bacterial growth. That is why tight grained woods such as Rock Hard Maple are always recommended. While there are antibacterial properties in the wood, why invite a possible problem?

    The truth is, there is a calculated risk with any time of wood that you use. Bacteria is microscopic, wood pores can be microscopic.

    I guess it all depends on how well you clean your cutting board after every use...

    My theory is that the wax will seal any open pores.

    One person suggested using bleach to clean a cutting board. That would kill any uninvited bacteria!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Everyone will have different opinions (although not sure how the wax can seal when you are continually cutting into it). Personally for me it's hardwoods and mineral oil. I have used and sold them to others for more than ten years without mishap. Anyway as I said before nice instructable.

    Thanks for the reply, and the database link. I've noticed that the sap will be most present if someone uses the cutting board to place something hot on, like a casserole dish, and then you place raw food on it to be cut.