How NOT to make an End Grain Cutting Board

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.

(had to move the glueing and clamping inside once we hit low temperatures, since the glue isn’t supposed to freeze)

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…

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