You can make an awesome looking cutting board and it only takes a few hardwood offcuts to do it. Check out how I used 4 offcuts of walnut, cherry, mahogany and maple to make this designer looking cutting board!
Update: I've included a video above I made with similar steps showing my process.
- Hardwood scraps (preferably 12"+ long)
- Mineral Oil
If you want a little more detail about the process and my secret to making boards super smooth even after they are washed, then go check out my blog post on it:
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Step 1: Get Some Hardwood Offcuts
The project starts with some hardwood offcuts. The longer and thicker you can get them, the better. Here you'll see I had some cherry, walnut, mahogany and maple strips. I actually got all of these for FREE from a local millwork shop. Go by one and see if they have any offcuts they'd be willing to part with. If you call them "offalls" then you'll almost certainly get some as that is the industry lingo for the pieces left over after ripping a board to size.
I made my board 15.5" long, 9" wide and 1.25" thick. These boards were all about an inch thick and at least 1.5" wide, which was perfect.
Step 2: Cut Your Boards to Length and the Same Approximate Width
I cut all my boards to 16" long. I'm made this board an edge grain board, which basically just means all the boards are on edge. After you cut your pieces to the same length then you can start playing with the design you want to have in the end. I figured out the boards I wanted to use and a rough design.
After you have all the boards you will use, rip all the boards down to approximately the same width (which will be the height of the cutting board). This means find the narrowest board (the white maple one in my case) and cut the boards to the same size.
Step 3: Prepare the Boards for Gluing and Finalize Your Design
I ran all the boards through my planer to get faces to be glued up parallel and flat. You can see I ran the mahogany, cherry and maple boards through the planer more times than the others to get them down to a smaller size. I also ripped some of the boards smaller to get more small pieces rather than one large one.
Play around with the layout and sizing of all the pieces until you land on your final design.
Step 4: Glue Up the Board
Use a waterproof or water resistant glue and apply liberal amounts of glue to one face of each board. Clamp the boards together until you get some good glue squeeze out between the boards. Make sure the joints are as flat as they can be so you'll not have to do as much work on the next step. Let the board sit overnight for the glue to cure.
Step 5: Flatten the Board and Trim It to Final Size
After the board is out of the clamps it will have all kinds of nasty glue residue on it. Run it back through the planer and take very light passes. Flip the board each time you run it through so you maintain parallel and flat faces. When you get down to fresh wood all across the board you are done. If you don't have a planer you can also do this with a belt sander.
Cut the board to size on your table saw to clean and true up the ends. You'll usually lose a 1/4 to 1/2" in this process so factor that into the dimensions of your initial pieces.
Step 6: Sand and Oil Your Board
Sand the board starting from 80 grit and then going through 120, 150, and 220 with an orbital sander. Finish the sanding by doing 320 and 400 grits by hand. If you want a profile on the edges you can use a roundover bit in a router to do that now as well.
I finish all my boards with food grade mineral oil. That's just a fancy way of saying mineral oil, really :) It's pretty much all food grade since it's commonly used as a laxative...yeah, that's right. Put 2 or 3 coats on the board, letting it sit for 5 minutes after each application and wiping off the excess.
I go over this process in a little more detail on my site, so if you want to see more you can check it out here: