Pixel Art Chopping Boards




About: Maker with an obsession for the 8-bit!

These are chopping boards that use squares of various hardwoods as the palette for Pixel Art.

This is an idea I picked up from 1337motif. He's got some awesome designs, and it's fantastic quality, so please check out his work.

I'm always open to feedback, so please comment and let me know how I could do it better!

Tool List

  • Planer/thicknesser
  • Table saw
  • Mitre saw
  • Router w/ chamfer bit
  • Digital caliper
  • Belt sander
  • Random Orbit sander
  • Clamps
  • PPE - Goggles, ear defenders, dust mask

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Step 1: Gather Your Wood, and Make It Into Rods

This project is great for using up offcuts. If you haven't got any offcuts get down your local timber yard and they'll probably sell you a bundle of theirs pretty cheap.

The timber I managed to scrape together included Ash, Meranti, Iroko, and a little Teak. The first step is to turn this all into 15mm (or whatever pixel size you want) square rods with as little error as possible.

So, everything got fed to the thicknesser until it was all a smidge over 15mm thick (measure with digital calliper).

An edge on each piece was planed square, then a 16mm thick rod cut off on the table saw. This was repeated until everything was 16mmx15mm rods with 3 planed square sides.

Then a few more passes through the thicknesser to take it down to 15mm (start on the unplaned edge). Rotate the rod on the last pass to ensure the sides are nice and uniform.

Step 2: Pixels

Now that all that wood is nice even rods, it's time to turn it all into pixels.

Using a mitre saw I cut all the rods into 2cm bits. I cut the rods in 4's to save time and minimise breakout.

It's a good idea to tidy up each pixel, because you're likely to get a fair bit of breakout that will mess up the gluing stage. I painstakingly sanded & inspected each pixel ready for gluing.

I also went a bit OCD and stacked them all neatly in shoe boxes, along with some squares from a previous pixel making sess. This turned out to be a really good idea as it made them easy to count, so I knew what the limitations of my palette were before planning what to make.

Step 3: Design

To get any kind of usable canvas your grid will want to be around 16x20 (that's 320 pixels!). I made a grid on photoshop and played around with pixels until I landed on a design I thought would work. You palette is basically shades of brown, so you need to keep it pretty simple!

For this chopping board I went for a curly tash face in honour of Movember. It's made using Ash for the background, Teak for the tash & frames, and Iroko for the glass.

I hot glued a load of sticks onto the back of a cupboard door as a sort of prototyping board, and laid out the design.

Step 4: Glue

For this step I used Gorilla wood glue, but any strong FDA approved wood glue should work. I think Titebond III is another one that's ok.

I made myself a gluing jig....This was a big square edge to clamp against, with a layer of scrap perspex to stop everything sticking together...take a look at the pic, you'll get the idea.

Then I glued em together a row at a time, using clamps and a perspex lined edge to get everything nice and tight. After each row I scraped and stray lumps of glue off with a wide chisel so the the next row would sit nicely. I found that after around 4 rows things tended to get a little wonky, so worked in sections that would get glued together later.

Step 5: Let's Get Sanding!

The next step is to get the belt sander out and get the bulk of the glue off with a coarse grit (I used 80). I kept going until each section would sit flat and feed through the table saw without rocking. Then I skimmed the edges with the table saw until they were straight and square.

Then more glue, some clamps, and a few bonus solid straight edges making sure things weren't bowing out of shape.

Once that's thoroughly dry, back to the belt sander. This time I kept going until all the glue was gone from the faces. Then switched to 120grit to get any grooves and the worst of the scratches out (caused by the coarser grit).

I gave it a quick going over with the random orbit sander to show up missed patches, and jumped back and forth between the belt and random orbit sander until I was satisfied things were even and the deep scratches gone.

Be careful not to overwork your tools. I would use my sander until it felt like the belt was getting a bit too hot, then go do something else for a while until it had cooled down. Same goes for the random orbit sander...you don't want to be melting the velcro!

Step 6: Edges & Finishing Sand

I skimmed the long edges on the table saw again, then squared the sides off using the sliding mitre saw.

After rounding off the corners with sandpaper I gave both sides a slight chamfer using the router.

Now for the fun bit. Get out the random orbit sander, a few 120grit & 240grit pads, and get comfortable! I gave it an occasional wipe with a sponge to raise the grain, and to tease the deeper scratches out. Once you're happy things are getting pretty damn smooth switch to 240 grit and repeat until things are looking as good as it's gonna get....or until you've run out of patience!

Step 7: Finish

I gradually fed it mineral oil until it wouldn't absorb any more. Then I put it somewhere warm so the excess would get squeezed out, and gave it a vigorous wipe with paper towels.

The last step was to polish it up using some wax (make sure you use a food safe wax).

Care instructions

To look after it just wash it up as normal with warm soapy water, and don't leave it in standing water. I imagine it's not good to put it in the dishwasher...and I'm pretty reluctant to find out, so just don't!

Step 8: In Case You'd Rather Just Buy One....

I've got various designs for sale on Etsy here.

And let's not forget about 1337motif (check out his Fibonacci chopping boards).

Please check out some other stuff I've made at the 1upLiving website, and if you'd like to keep track of what I'm making you can always hit me with a facebook like, or a twitter follow.

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24 Discussions


4 years ago on Step 3

What about using an Excel type program that you can easily adjust the lines and add in color to the cells. With options like Open Office and Libre Office out on the net for free, might be easier for some to use than photoshop.


4 years ago on Step 2

Tip on this, if you put a stop block on the Miter Saw at the depth that you cut your blocks at, you can just keep sliding the uncut section in place after removing the cut pieces. Also, I learned recently that if you take several light cuts instead of one big cut, you end up with less tear out and wont have to clean up the edges as much.


4 years ago

Made one for my wife for Xmas. She loves it. Thanks for the wonderful 'ible.

1 reply

4 years ago on Introduction

Awesome stuff. You could probably offer businesses boards with their QR code on for serving or well, something else in that direction.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

That's actually a really cool idea, especially for food businesses that do fairs and expos.

1up LivingSirPhobos15

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

That's right! So you're cutting against the fibrous end rather than across the strands, keeping your knives sharper for longer.

It also means they have magical self healing powers!


4 years ago on Introduction

Pretty cool. Had any break yet? I've had laminated bamboo chopping boards crack in half before, but they may have been a little thinner than this.

1 reply
1up Livingnaught101

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I've been using mine for like 6 months with no problems. Were the yours end grain or face grain? I think because the wood is broken down into such small pieces it makes the movement pretty negligible.


4 years ago

Amazing superb I really love it.


4 years ago

Cool! I'm sure I could make a Minecraft inspired cutting board with these instructions. Very clever!