End Grain Cutting Boards From Scrap Wood How-To

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Weekly how-to project videos about #woodworking, metalworking, and more. #Maker. Created by Johnn...

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

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!

4 People Made This Project!

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25 Discussions

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Jules1050

1 year ago

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

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ksjunto

1 year ago

Very nice!

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robthowells

1 year ago

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

Thanks in advance

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daytona675

1 year ago

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

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daytona675

1 year 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.

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RobertH410

1 year 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.

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drackipRobertH410

Reply 1 year 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

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craftedworkshopdrackip

Reply 1 year 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.

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Unclebulgaria

1 year ago

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

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fred_Unclebulgaria

Reply 1 year 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.

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Yonatan24Unclebulgaria

Reply 1 year ago

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

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midiansangel

1 year ago

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

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Awert1962

1 year ago

Просто красава.

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CatC6

1 year 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?

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obillo

1 year 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.

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RobertH410obillo

Reply 1 year 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.

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obilloRobertH410

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks for the warning. I hadn't thought of that since so many of the pallets lately look so clean and new.

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slamonellaRobertH410

Reply 1 year ago

It's not so much that they may have dangerous chemicals soaked in, but most pallets are treated from the factory with various chemicals to lengthen their lifespan out on the elements. I would never use them for a food-based project.

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daytona675

1 year ago

Nice. Two thoughts, there is a need to check the timber you are using is food-friendly. Padauk has been thought to be dangerous in dust form . I would suggest that vegetable oil is used to finish the board rather than mineral oil. Food friendly!

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DennisT33

1 year ago

Looks great, the only problem is that Christmas is upon us so it will have to be next year's presents!

Years ago I made an end-grain chessboard with 1/2" thick 2.25 inch squares. I had a major problem with checking and cracking with changes in humidity, and it wound up in the fire. Since then I have learned about PEG (polyethylene glycol), a food-safe waxy material that enters the wood pores and prevents shrinking and cracking; woodturners use it for bowls, usually starting with green wood.

Have your boards shown any cracking? Have you or others used PEG as a first or final finish?