How to Make a Butcherblock Cutting Board




About: I have a wide range of interests, from woodworking to digital doohickeys and spaceships. At some point I'll get around to documenting them all...

This is a description of how to make a simple butcherblock cutting board for your kitchen/apartment.

Step 1: Get the Parts

For this project you will need:
1. Glue: I used Titebond #3 Ultimate wood glue
2. Clamps: it can be done with 2 clamps, I used 24" Jorgesen clamps (#3724). Irwin clamps are also pretty good.
3. Wood! The most important part by far. Since this is a board that is going to have knives hitting it fairly regularly, using a hard wood is important. I used seven 2x2x20" red oak boards from Home Depot, who cut the boards to length for you. I think Loews has comparable wood. If you want a more expensive wood, walnut would work as well. Hard maple also looks very nice, and is considerably cheaper. I choose oak because that's what the local store had that day. The boards I got cost $40 altogether.
Note: Do not use tropical wood, as some people have allergic reactions to them. I personally have never seen this happen, but I have heard of it from two different people.
4. A decent power sander. This is helpful for smoothing the sides, top and bottom of the board after gluing. You can do this by hand using a sanding block, but it will take some time/effort.
5. A hand plane. You're going to need this to level the ends of the board, as the rough cut pieces of timber are not going to be exactly to length.

In addition to the above, a level work bench with good lighting and a wet cloth for wiping away excess glue are very helpful to have.

Step 2: Glue the Board

After getting the wood, spend some time organizing the boards so that they fit together nicely on you workbench. I looked for neat patterns in the wood that I will want to see once the board is finished. One of the nicest parts about a butcherblock board is the variety between the strips.

Once you have the boards arranged the way you like its time to glue! Starting from one end of the board, place a line of glue on one side of each connection. In other words, between the first and second strip there should only be one side with glue on it. Go though each strip in this fashion, pushing the sides together as soon as the glue is applied. Make sure the ends of the boards line up as close as possible, since this will save time sanding later. After all the board are glued, clamp tightly, placing a clamp about 1/3 of the way along the long side of you cutting board as in the picture. Its a good idea to place some scrap wood between the clamps and the board, since this will distribute the force from the clamps evenly as well as protecting the board from dents/scratches.

Tighten down the clamps until the lines between the boards are almost gone (ie very tight). Wipe away the extra glue, and let sit for 24 hours. Make sure the temperature stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit since wood glue generally wont cure if its too cold.

Step 3: Sand and Plane the Board

Mount the board securely to a workbench using clamps, then use a power sander to smooth out the top, bottom and long sides of the board. Most power sanders should work; I personally find that the rotating sanders are easier and more effective to use.
After the board is smoothed to your satisfaction, start on the short ends. Its possible that the wood pieces are close enough is size to avoid planing, in my case I had to use a hand planar to level the ends. Try to use a planar made for crossgrain work. I used an old cheap box plane because that's all I have. If you have a power sander to cleanup the scratches after the boards are level it doesn't really matter what kind of plane you use.

Step 4: Mineral Oil Treatment

This is the last and easiest part of the job. Regular mineral oil will help the board last longer by preventing it from drying out and cracking. To apply simply pour some oil onto a clean rag and wipe onto the board. Continue until the board is completely covered, then wait for the oil to soak in and apply another coat. Continue in this fashion until the board will not absorb any more oil, remove the excess with another clean rag, and begin to use your board!



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    12 Discussions


    Great looking cutting board! I'll probably try doing something like this... I have some scrap 2x2 birchwood I could use. Birch is quite hard and mildly antiseptic, so it fits nicely to anything concerning food.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Probably. Just the stuff available from a pharmacy. There's no sae rating on the bottle I have. I think walmart sells it cheap.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You are using heavy paraffin then (Pharmacy)? It would be advisable to be specific about the oil, as motor-oil should not be used on surfaces upon which food is to be prepared. L


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    always the smart ass, why do you always try to be so smart all you do is annoy everyone


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I've had a good education, there's no trying involved.
    If you'd like an argument; justify "all you do is annoy everyone".



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Use ordinary vegetable oil to rejuvenate a chopping board


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Red oak is an open pore wood, so while it's pretty, it's nearly impossible to seal. I'd recommend something denser like maple.

    Also, instead of mineral oil, get salad bowl finish. I also use beffed carnauba wax to finish it up to a bright luster.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    I know that Ikea et al. have begun calling their edge-glued hardwood panels "butcherblock", but traditional butcher blocks were endgrain up. They were also far morely likely to be maple than oak. Maple has a much tighter pore structure than oak, which means it's less absorbent. For all of that, I'm working on a project that will leave me with a scrap of edge-glued oak I intend to turn into a cutting board. It may not be as good as a real maple butcher's block, it's better what I can find in the store.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely true, though of course making it the 'traditional' way is a lot more expensive. Ikea was hardly the first one to do edge grain blocks though. My parents have a board from the 40's that's edge grained.