In this Instructable I will show you how to make hard wood edge grain cutting boards.
Edge grain cutting boards are the simplest and best cutting boards for beginners. Edge gain cutting boards are different than END grain cutting boards. As the name says, end grain boards have the end grain of the wood facing up for the surface that will contact the knives. End grain boards are best for heavy duty, every day usage. For home use, edge grain boards are perfectly fine and will serve you well.
- Table saw
- Plainer (optional but makes it much easier)
- Joiner (depending on whether or not the lumber you buy has one straight edge )
- Random orbital sander
- Wood glue (a food safe one like Titebond III)
- Oil or wax (Again, a food safe product)
- Hardwoods that come from edible products (walnut, cherry and maple are common in cutting boards)
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Step 1: Buying Hardwood
The first step of the project is to select and buy the hardwood that you would like to use for your board. I recommend a combination of Walnut, Maple and Cherry as they are all readily available and not terribly expensive. There are other species of wood that will be suitable for a cutting board. The general rule is to use wood species that produce an edible product. If possible, buy hardwood that the lumber yard has already given at least one straight edge (more on this later).
When you are ready to buy your material, find your nearest hardwood lumber yard. Not a big box store. You might be able to buy some types of hardwood at a big box store but you will pay a premium. Once at the hardwood lumber yard you will notice that the wood is sold differently than at the big box stores. Rather than being priced per piece of wood, lumber at a true lumber yard is priced per board foot.
A board foot is 144 cubic inches. An example would be a board that is 12" x 12" and 1" thick. The employees of the lumber yard will calculate the total board feet of the lumber you are interested in buying. They will measure and multiply the length x width x thickness and divide by 144. That will equal the number of board feet. Multiply the board feet by the price per board foot and that is the cost of the board
Step 2: Cutting the Hardwood
First you will want to cut the hardwood down to manageable lengths slightly longer than the width of the cutting board you are planning to make. It's best to make these cuts on a miter saw.
If you were able to buy hardwood with at least one straight edge, you are ready to move over to the table saw and begin ripping strips of wood that will be used to comprise the board. If you didn't get a straight edge, you will need to use a joiner or other technique to make one edge straight and flat.
Once at the table saw, cut enough strips of the different types of wood so that when they are glued together they will equal the total width you desire.
Step 3: Glue and Clamp
Line up the wood strips in the pattern that you chose inside a set of clamps. Parallel clamps are the best for this, but pipe clamps will work too. Apply a liberal amount of glue to one side of each of the wood strips. Make sure to spread the glue out so it covers all areas of the side of the wood strip. Too much glue is better than not enough!
Clamp together tightly, using as many clamps as you have or will fit.
Step 4: Plane and Smooth
Run the glued up cutting board through your planer, taking light passes each time until you have removed all leftover glue and unevenness in the wood pieces. Alternate taking passes off the top and bottom. You will be left with a flat and smooth top and bottom.
If you don't have a planer, this step can be done with a sander or hand planer but will take much, much longer.
Step 5: Cut Square Ends
Take the smooth board over to the table saw and cut clean straight lines off the edges where the long pieces extend.
I like to do the sanding after this step. Start with 80 or 120 grit sandpaper on your random orbital sander and go to town on the top, bottom and all sides. Move up to 220 grit and repeat. After you have sanded with 220, I recommend a light application of water to the top face. Let it dry completely, and re-sand at 220 grit. This preemptively raises the grain and then smooths it back down.
As an optional step, now is the time when you could add a round-over or chamfer to the edges of the board. This will require a router and specific router bits. If you don't have a router or don't want to do this step, knock down the sharp edges with some sand paper.
Step 6: Oil
Apply a liberal amount of a food safe cutting board oil. Wipe off excess after a few hours of soak time. Reapply again if there are still dry areas. I use the brand Walrus Oil, but you can also use plain mineral spirits. Do not use vegetable oil as it will breakdown and rot over time.
Step 7: Optional Finishing Touches
You can chose to leave your cutting board just like that, or you can add optional accessories like rubber feet, handles or even your own custom brand.
I hope this helped you get a feel for how to make a hardwood cutting board. Good luck on your project!