After spending some time working on the barbot, I wanted to spend some time doing a simple woodworking project. My mom’s birthday was in a few days and she was in desperate need for a new cutting board. After doing some research, I found end grain cutting boards are by far the best option for four main reason: 1. They do not blunt knives, 2. They do not show cut marks, 3. They last a very long time (see 2.) 4. They look really cool.
- Poplar and Red Oak (various thickness with 1.5″ width)
- Food Safe Wood Glue Tightbond II or III (II is water resistant, while III is waterproof)
- Mineral Oil
- Bees Wax
- 24″ Bar Clamps
- Belt Sander
- Palm Sander
- Various Grit Sand Paper (80, 120, 600)
- Miter Saw, Table Saw, Circular Saw, or Hand Saw
First, cut the lumber to length. For this build the blank will be 2′ long, so all lumber is cut to 2′.
Next, order the pieces into the desired pattern. This is two different types of hardwood with an equal number of pieces per thickness per wood, so the poplar will mirror the red oak.
Once the pattern is set, it is time to glue up the pieces. It is important to use a food safe wood glue. Apply wood glue to one face of each plank then press it against the one next to it.
Once the glued planks are all together, apply bar clamps to press the blank together. Excess glue should squeeze out between each plank.
To save sanding time later, it is a good idea clamp a straight piece of material across the planks to keep them in line with each other. A jig can also be made out of 2 pieces of 3″ pvc put parallel to do the glue up on which will also help keep the planks in line. The excess glue can be removed using a damp rag, or can be scrapped away after an hour. Leave the blank to dry overnight.
After the blank is dry, it is time to sand. If care was given to make the planks even, this step will be easy. Here a hand plane could be used, or a bench top planer (after the excess wood glue is removed), but I had neither so opted to use a belt sander. Using an 80 grit belt, sand perpendicular to the wood grane to ensure the blank is level in that direction. This face will be bonded to itself in the next step. Make sure it is as level as possible to insure there are no gaps in the final product.
Once the blank is sanded level on both side, it is time to cut it up. First cut off one end of the blank so it is nice and square.
Next, setup a jig so that each slice will be consistent. I clamped down a scrap piece of 4×4 to my miter saw, so that it is 1″ away from the saw blade. This will give 1″ slices of the blank.
After slicing up the blank is sliced, turn each piece on its side and flip every other piece. A blank this size should yield two cutting boards if they are made 1″ thick.
Now glue them together. Now that each part of the glueup is the same size they can have the glue spread across all of them, and then flipped into place. Start with the farthest left piece unglued and in its final position.
Using the earlier advice clamp straight edges in all three direction to save material and sanding time later. Then leave it overnight for the glue to cure.
After the glue is dried, it is time to sand again. If the board is very uneven bring out the belt sander again. If the glue up was done well a palm sander can be used. Start with 80 grit.
If desired, routing the edges can make a nice finish. At the time I did not own a router, but had a dremel with a router attachment. This is not ideal, as the dremel takes 1/8″ bits that easily flex so there is not a perfectly routed edge.
After routing, sand again with 80 grit, then work up to 120 grit. It’s always a good idea to brand your work. I branded the corner shown below to distract from the tear out due to the flimsy router bit.
Now it is time to finish the cutting board. First apply a coat of mineral oil (yes it is sold as a laxative at drug stores). Do not waste money on salad bowl finish, or whatever they call it these days at the hardware store, it is the exact same thing as drug store mineral oil. Use a rag to spread it around.
Let the oil sit for a while to soak in. Whip off the excess and sand with 600 grit sand paper to give the board a nice smooth finish.
After the sanding, apply another coat of mineral oil, and sand again. After this the end grain cutting board is finished.
For a longer lasting finish, a beeswax and mineral oil mixture is ideal. It is a matter of opinion on the ratio, but 1 part beeswax to 2 parts mineral oil seems to be the best. Simply melt the beeswax and mix it with the mineral oil. Liberally apply to the board with a rag, and then whip away the excess. If you get it on your hands they will be nice and soft.
Do not put the board in the dishwasher, and apply some mineral oil or the beeswax mixture every few weeks to keep a nice finish and extend the life of your cutting board.