End Grain Cutting Boards From Scrap Wood How-To

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Introduction: End Grain Cutting Boards From Scrap Wood How-To

About: Weekly how-to project videos about #woodworking, metalworking, and more. #Maker. Created by Johnny Brooke.

In this Instructable, I'll show you how to build an awesome end grain cutting board from scrap wood! These turned out amazing, and they would make some awesome last minute gifts. Make sure not to miss the video above for even more details!

Step 1: Gather Materials & Supplies & Details on the Type of Wood You Should Use

You'll need a decent amount of scraps for this project, so make sure to look in all of the nooks and crannies of your shop to make sure they aren't hiding from you. You'd be surprised how many pieces you'll find.

You want to use hardwoods for this project. Pine and other softer woods are not a good choice, as they will wear too quickly. Some good choices here in the U.S. are Walnut, Cherry, and Maple. I also used Hickory and Padauk.

The tools used are a little involved, for sure. You could maybe get away with doing this with a belt sander instead of a planer, but you'll end up with a lot more gaps. Here are the tools I used:

The materials are pretty basic, just glue, finish, and rubber feet.

Step 2: Break Down Scraps Into Cutting Board Blanks

Start by breaking down the pieces into similar sizes and group them by size. You want the pieces to be relatively similar in height so that you don't waste time flattening it later on.

Step 3: Plane Pieces & Glue Up Cutting Board Blanks

Once you have your blanks ready to go (for reference, I made 7 roughly 13" long blanks to end up with 3 finished 18" x 13" x 2" cutting boards), plane two sides of each piece. This will give you two flat faces to glue together, making for a much tighter glue joint. If you don't have a planer, you could sand the sides of the pieces, or just count on filling gaps later. I used Titebond III wood glue, which is a food safe and waterproof glue. I highly recommend it.

Step 4: Flatten Cutting Board Blanks

After the glue has dried, plane your blanks flat using the planer. If you do not have a planer, you could try and use a belt sander, but you will never realistically get the boards perfectly flat. If you stopped here, you'd have a long grain cutting board.

Step 5: Cut End Grain Slices From Cutting Board Blanks

Now comes the fun part! After all that work, we get to see what the final cutting boards will look like. Decide on the thickness of your final boards and add roughly ⅛" to account for flattening after the final glue up. I wanted 2" thick cutting boards, so I cut slices at 2 ⅛" thick. After cutting each piece, turn it 90 degrees to expose the end grain. Keep cutting until you run out of blanks.

With all of your blanks cut up, you can now mix and match your end grain strips to form a cool pattern. This is the advantage of using multiple blanks, as you can get some really cool patterns by mixing things up. Make sure to orient any knot holes and imperfections towards the bottom of the board, so you don't have to fill them later.

Step 6: Glue Up End Grain Cutting Boards

Once you have your boards arranged how you want them, glue them together, again using a waterproof wood glue. Make sure to keep the boards as flat and straight as possible here, as any amount that the pieces slip is wasted thickness, since you'll have to remove it later.

Step 7: Flatten End Grain Cutting Boards

This is my disclaimer, do whatever you feel comfortable with here, I am not responsible for your choices in the shop! I used my planer to flatten these cutting boards, but some people don't think this is a good idea. To mitigate any issues, I did the following:

  1. Made sure my planer blades were sharp.
  2. Took shallow passes
  3. Chamfered the trailing top edge

These three things made for an easy and problem-free flattening.

After flattening, clean up each edge at the table saw.

Step 8: Sand End Grain Cutting Boards & Chamfer Edges

After all of the edges are cleaned up, start your sanding. I started with 80 grit, making sure to remove any scratches, tool marks, etc. Once that was done, I moved onto 120 grit. I then chamfered all of the edges with a block plane and filled any gaps with wood glue and sawdust. Once that was done, I did my final sanding at 180 grit.

Step 9: Apply Finish to End Grain Cutting Boards & Add Rubber Feet

For finish, I stuck with the classic mineral oil finish. It's dead simple to apply, just pour it on and let it soak into the wood. Spread it around and make sure all of the wood gets covered. Allow it to soak in for an hour or two, then wipe away the excess. Do the same thing again, after waiting 24 hours, and then you're done. Easy!

After the finish is done, add some rubber feet and you're done!

Step 10: Enjoy Your Cutting Board!

Thank you for checking out this Instructable! If you'd like to see more projects from me, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and check out my website. I make new projects every week, so stay tuned!

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

4 People Made This Project!

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29 Discussions

1
RobertH410
RobertH410

3 years ago

Great Project. To address a couple of comments:

Vegetable oil is good on salad but will go rancid on cutting boards, mineral oil in a grocery store or pharmacy is cheap, safe and of medicinal grade. Mineral spirts is for cleaning paint brushes and thinning paint.

Don't use pallet wood as it may have potential dangerous chemicals on it.

0
drackip
drackip

Reply 3 years ago

Walnut oil will work as well and seems to last much longer than mineral oil - Ikea sells it to treat their butcher block cutting boards and counter tops - Cheapest price I've found, although it's been a couple years since I bought some

0
craftedworkshop
craftedworkshop

Reply 3 years ago

The issue with Walnut Oil is that some folks are allergic to nuts and nut oils. Might as well just use Mineral Oil, it's cheap and readily available at most drug stores.

0
KellyCraig
KellyCraig

Reply 3 months ago

Too, it is a hardening oil, so it's like applying tung oil or boiled linseed oil over time. We don't want surface coats on things like this though.

0
KellyCraig
KellyCraig

3 months ago

Now, about using a planer for cleaning up end grain - DON'T.

As has been said by several professionals, just because you got away with it a few times does not mean you always will.

When a planer gets into a fight with the end grain, it can go really bad. The wood can, literally, explode. When it does, it can destroy the planer, obviously the project and can even injure the operator.

Even though my spiral cutting heads to a remarkable jog of figured wood with wild wood grain, it's still a debatable match for something that is all end grain.

If you doubt the danger of running end grain through a planer, do a simple Net search using words like "planer end grain explosion."

0
daytona675
daytona675

3 years ago

Vegetable oil cannot go rancid, only meat and dairy products go rancid. Vegetable or walnut oil will be fine.

0
KellyCraig
KellyCraig

Reply 3 months ago

Vegetable oil, certainly, does go rancid. Note that no pro uses it for kitchen utensils or boards.

Walnut oil is a hardening oil. It does the same thing tung or boiled linseed oil (treated flax seed oil) does. It polymerizes, so builds up over time.

You want to use non-hardening oils for wooden spoons, spurtles and cutting boards. That is why every commercial product for these uses have a base of mineral oil. They might ad beeswax or even carnuba, but for things like butcher blocks, straight mineral oil is the go to oil.

Many use olive oil, thinking they are taking a healthy approach, but the oil will go rancid and the wood develops a smell.

0
KellyCraig
KellyCraig

3 months ago

You do not need to slather on mineral oil, wipe it off, then slather on more. It just wastes mineral oil.

Apply a generous amount of oil to wood. Add more wherever it soaked in. When it quits soaking in quickly, make sure it has a good layer of oil, then walk away.

If that layer soaked in when you get back to the item in an hour or so, add more and let it set for about twenty-four hours or even more. Only then do you need to wipe off the excess.

You put a lot of work into the project, so what's another day?

I bought an old butcher block on the cheap because it had cracks and separations from drying out over the years. I used the technique above, then walked away for a couple weeks. When I came back, the oil had all wicked in the wood. The effect of replacing the lost moisture was, the wood swelled to its original state and all the cracks and splits disappeared.

0
Jules1050
Jules1050

3 years ago

Looks very classy! I will try to make one and then let you know about the result!

0
ksjunto
ksjunto

3 years ago

Very nice!

0
robthowells
robthowells

3 years ago

Do you have any problems planeing the board due to the end grain?

Thanks in advance

0
daytona675
daytona675

3 years ago

Well, the cutting boards and beech utensils I made in the 1980s and use daily show no sign of rancidness. I keep 'em clean though.

0
Unclebulgaria
Unclebulgaria

3 years ago

Great looking board Johnny apart from softwoods are there any woods you would avoid (thinking more for food safe reasons)?

0
fred_
fred_

Reply 3 years ago

Most domestic hardwoods are ok. Oak wouldn't be the best choice because it has an open grain. Some of the exotics like rosewood can be an allergy issue and some need special care to glue up. Hard maple walnut cherry are probably the most common for cutting boards. The end grain boards are also easier on your knife edge.

0
Yonatan24
Yonatan24

Reply 3 years ago

Never use pallets and toxic woods. Some have commented about that below

0
midiansangel
midiansangel

3 years ago

I'm living in hope that I can make one one day, but seriously lacking in tools. They are amazing

0
Awert1962
Awert1962

3 years ago

Просто красава.

0
CatC6
CatC6

3 years ago

I'm new to this so apologies if this is not the best question but would a cabinet scraper work instead of a planer? And what kind of clamp is that?

0
obillo
obillo

3 years ago

Lovely piece of work! But I don't have a shop full of scraps I wonder whether oak would be acceptable? Here in Manhattan there are pallets by the long ton and many have oak stringers.

0
RobertH410
RobertH410

Reply 3 years ago

I wouldn't recommend using pallets. Many of them have been used multiple times and may have potentially dangerous chemicals that have soaked in.