As a birthday present, I made my (female) friend a cutting board with a twist - in the shape of a wine jug! I chose the wine jug shape for two reasons:
1) It was her 21st birthday
2) The jug was the widest alcoholic container silhouette, making a good shape for a cutting board.
There are different ways to make cutting boards, but for a novice woodworker, a single piece 3/4" hardwood cutting board will suffice.
3/4" maple hardwood (approx 8" wide)
Black and Decker Jigsaw
Ryobi Drill press
Ryobi Power sander
Sand paper (variety between 100 - 320 grits)
Rag (for applying the oil)
For a more challenging build, heres a fantastic instructable on make a cutting board using the multiple board method:
Step 1: Finding a Template
I blew up a stock image I found online (Google ftw) and printed it out on two pages, and cut it out. Total length was about 15", and the width was 8" (same as the width of the board I used)
I found a nice, clean piece of maple in my shop, and taped the template to trace it. After tracing, I removed the template, and clamped the board in preparation to cut it out.
Step 2: Cut It Out
Seeing as I didn't have a Dremel or router at the time, I (very carefully) used my jig saw to cut the shape out, lightly using the moving blade to shape the more detailed parts around the handle and the cap.
For greater accuracy, a file could be used to define those curves as well.
Step 3: Drill the Handle Hole
Not only does this bring an aesthetic and realistic feel to the cutting board, but this hole also allows it to be hung on the wall.
I eye-balled the center of the handle semi-circle, and drilled the hole with a 1" drill bit with my drill press.
Step 4: Sand That Sucker Down
Now, because I didn't have a router or any such shaping tool, this part involved a great deal of sanding.
I set up the board in my vice between two pieces of scrap wood (so as not to dent the board's surface), as shown in the pictures.
I started sanding with my power sander using the lowest grit (120) on the open surfaces. Then I used strips of the same sand paper to sand down the edges - this took the longest time because I wanted the edges to be as rounded as possible.
Step 5: Keep Sanding....
After going over the entire surface with 120 grit, I moved up to 220, and repeated the sanding process same as before.
Following the 220 came the 320 grit sanding, which wasn't as thorough as the two preceding it, seeing as a quick once-over is enough to smooth everything out. Note that the whole surface must be splinter or edge free because cutting boards are handled on a daily basis and must be designed to be safe. After the sanding, I wiped the board down with a dry paper towel to remove the saw dust.
Step 6: Apply Linseed Oil
Wikipedia helped me figure out what kind of oil to get in order to seal the wood from moisture:
I picked out a linseed oil that did not have any metallic drier (gotta keep it food grade).
I used a clean rag (old t-shirt) to dip into the oil, and applied it generously over the entire surface of the cutting board, putting a good few layers of newspaper and paper towels under it. Seeing as linseed oil takes the longest to dry of the available options, I reapplied the oil two days later in the same fashion, and then allowed it to further dry for five more days. (The hanging hole comes in handy here)
After that, it was more or less dry (I should have given it another few days just to be sure, but a deadline's a deadline).
Step 7: Finished!
After the oil dries, the wood gets a few shades darker and the wood grains really show their contrast.
Needless to say, after I gave the present, it was immediately put to good use.