Last year around this time, I had a burning desire to make everyone in our families some homemade cutting boards. But 2 weeks wasn’t enough time, so it got thrown onto the “things to make for next year” pile of ideas.
This year around September, I figured I should get started. In my naivety, I thought I could make this and write about how to make it without any more tools than a saw, some glue and clamps, and a sander. Which I guess I did prove is possible. It is very possible.
I did do it after all.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
At least not the way I did it.
- Do not do it with a hard wood. (Even though that is what is recommended for a long lasting cutting board.)
- Expect to buy A LOT of sandpaper
- And spend A LOT of time with your sander
- Be precise with your cuts. Originally, Before I realized how much sanding this thing would take, I didn’t think I had to measure every cut. I just lined up the previous cut piece with the laser line on the saw. Don’t do that. Measure everything. Seriously. Its important.
- Buy a planer if you don’t feel like making precise cuts. The $800 will probably save you money in the hours you spend sanding and the amount of sand paper you will end up buying.
Okay, so this is totally possible. I learned a lot of lessons and the next one I make will probably be better. And I am pretty impressed and stoked at this cutting board.
Word to the wise, if someone makes you an end grain cutting board from scratch, (And they don’t own fancy tools like a planer, or even a belt sander) They Love You. Seriously.
All jokes aside, now that I am finally finished this thing, I am in love with it. I don’t know if I could have finished it if I was as stubborn as I am, because I sanded forever. Also, the top isn’t super level: there is kind of a dip in it where I sanded down all the super high points to get to the low points, and some of my sections that I glued together are a little spaced out. But I am kind of obsessed with this thing. Also, I learned that the Red Oak I used is actually NOT ideal for cutting boards, because it has a pretty open grain. I am not too worried about it, as the beeswax in the home-made wood butter I made (and am giving with this cutting board) will help to keep the open grain sealed; And my parents probably wont use this as a regular cutting board, and I will advise them to not use it for anything really juicy to help keep this in good shape.
Here are some in-the-making photos… You’ll see what I mean about learning to make more precise cuts… and maybe you can appreciate how much sanding I actually did to make this thing level and smooth on top!
I sanded for hours and hours with MANY sheets of 40 grit sand paper, then worked from 60, to 80 to 120, and a final sand with a 220 grit. Then about 5 coats of wood butter to moisturise and naturally seal the wood. Then buffed with a soft cloth. Only step left is to wrap it and put it under the Christmas Tree.
If you do this, make sure that you use a waterproof AND non-toxic wood glue.
This is probably halfway through the sanding… That is an almost-worn out sheet of 40 grit sandpaper on my palm sander… Yes, I only have a palm sander…