diy project: homemade cutting boards

This project couldn’t come at a better time for me; just this week, I decided to toss out my crummy old plastic cutting boards and exchange them with more durable wood ones. Kate of Centsational Girl has created a fantastic, easy tutorial for how to make your own custom cutting boards of any size and shape. My recommendation? Get a big pile of wood and make one for everyone you know — paired with a cookbook or a small culinary item, a homemade cutting board would make such a lovely gift. Thanks for sharing, Kate! — Kate

Have a DIY project you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)


Materials

  • untreated hardwood plank (these are made with Norfolk pine) (it is important to get untreated wood since you are using these for food prep)
  • jigsaw
  • orbital sander
  • paper
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • mineral oil + rags

Instructions

1. Draw a template for your board and cut out with scissors.

2. Place the template on your plank and traced around it. Be sure to align it along the board to avoid the big knots.

3. Cut around the shape with a jig saw, being sure to cut along the line and to work slowly around curved lines for a smooth, accurate cut.

4. Sand the top and the edges smooth with an orbital sander, first with medium 80 grit then followed up by 220 extra fine grit.

5. Wipe down all boards to remove any remaining sawdust, then condition with food-safe mineral oil to bring out the beauty of the wood. Mineral oil is a digestive aid and can be found at most drugstores or pharmacies. Many specialty food and kitchen stores also carry mineral oil for use on butcher-block counter tops, so look for it there, too.

6. You’re done!

 

Katie

I had no idea it was this simple to make a cutting board. I figured there was a lot more of a finishing treatment to do…I might actually have to try this!

Katie

I have been meaning to do something like this for a long time, but mine were going to end up plain and boring. Thanks for the inspiration! They’ll definitely be cuter now.

MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv1.7

This is a great idea…and I’d say focus on the passions of the giftee. If the giftee’s a knitter, try making the cutting board in the shape of a knitting needle or two needles stuck in a ball of yarn. A sewer? A sewing machine shaped cutting board would be most welcome. You get the idea. Get sawing!

whitney

I love the look of wood cutting boards, but my chef husband reminds me always of how unsanitary they are. Normally, I just use them as accents in the kitchen or to serve food on. Never for food prep.

Sam

Looks nice – the woodworking geek in me cannot help but mention that pine is a softwood, and won’t look good for very long if you actually cut on it. For extra longevity use a hard hardwood (e.g. maple) – look for the top entries here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janka_hardness_test

@Whitney – wood is a tough environment for bacteria (tougher than plastic), so I’d be more worried about PVC boards than ones made out of wood – check the science here: http://www.woodworking.co.uk/Technical/Bacteria/bacteria.html

Katie

Love it! This definitely gives me a DIY for all the men in my life (since they’re the cooks in my world)! This is a great idea!

Rinna

This is great, I love it. I have a couple of questions though:

If I used hardwood would that be harder to cut with a jigsaw than soft wood like you have used?

Does one need to be skilled to use a jigsaw or can any monkey have a go?

Theresa (Miss Charlotte)

How wonderful! Did you know that the Lusty Woodsman is making a maple cutting board for me? He’s chosen a herringbone pattern. I’ll have to share pictures when it’s done. Cheers!

Catering Kraków

You write very well which is amazing. I really impressed by this idea of cutting boards! I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up excellent work!

Ana Gonzalez

He had long wanted a large table for the kitchen, and always found small, thin boards, so now I know how to make my own. You need to buy the cutting tool. I love the large table because I can put the loaf of bread without being on the sides. Thank you, good idea.

My suggestion is to use a table for each food group, such as a table for meat, another for fish and other for vegetables, for hygiene. I do so in my kitchen.

Miguel

I’ll second the fact that pine isn’t a very good choice for a cutting board. Much better choices would be hard (rock) maple, cherry, or walnut.
Yes, a jigsaw will cut these wood species as well, but if you have a friend who has a bandsaw it makes the job a lot easier and cleaner.
Also, for a finish I prefer walnut oil to mineral oil. Mineral oil is a petroleum distillate – at the end of the day I’m sure it’s safe, but I like using something made from a nut, and walnut oil is a known wood finish and is food safe. I just made 2 cutting boards matter’o fact.

Pkae

LOVE IT! The DYI cuz I had intended to do this for gifts a couple Christmas’s ago, but as so often happens, life got in the way. It’s now back on my list :-)

And, if you don’t have a saw, you can rent them (in USA ~ don’t know outside), or buy/borrow for/from the woodworker in your family. The jigsaws aren’t really that expensive, and all DIYers should own an orbital sander ;-)

And thanks to those who gave good tips (type of wood/oils). I usually learn a good deal just from the comments of others!

Camille

@Miguel I worry about using walnut oil on cutting boards because even though it is a great food-safe finish, it could cause problems for folks with food allergies.

Jigsaws are super easy to use. They don’t require any special skills, but the difference between a good one (like my cordless Makita) and an old junky one is big. Make sure you have a sharp blade, too, or else your cutting will be slow, jagged (requiring a lot more sanding), and could burn the wood.

A note about sanding…
Starting at 80 grit is fine, but if you jump from there to 220, you’ll see all your sanding marks. You’re better off doing a quick sanding with 120 and 150. Actually, 150 is probably fine enough for a cutting board anyway. Also, a random orbit sander isn’t going to do a very good job sanding the inside of concave curves.

And, yeah, pine’s pretty terrible (pitchy and soft) for cutting boards.

Liz

would like to know where you got the mineral oil or the walnut oil

Karen

I once made one for my grandmother in shopclass. We just used canola oil but sunflowerseed oil works just as well. Just use whatever you use for cooking. The point of the oil is to protect and nourish the wood. Remember all wood cutting board need a coat of oil once in a while and always wet teh entire piece of wood or the wood will warp.

Rhea

I have never focused on the possible germ problems of wood cutting boards. I take my usual care in cleaning and care and have never had a single problem.

I love this idea for myself and for gifts!!!

Cody

I’m making a guitar shaped one for my dad! He’s a musician, and he loves to cook. Thank you for the great idea!

Kevin - Diy Dork

After peeling off half dollar size pieces of plastic off our old boards (fresh out of the dishwasher)… I realized it was time to get new ones. The though of shredded plastic in our food is a lil scary. Anyway, as much as I like to make stuff… it didn’t even cross my mind to make some myself. Think I’m gonna have to get busy this week!

Katie

Olive oil works well, and does not get a rancid smell over time like nut oils can. You do really need a hardwood, and every so often they need re-oiling to maintain their glow. We made some lovely larger hardwood (maple, oak and cherry) boards as gifts this year, but, we had the advantage of being able to use the clamps and planer and bandsaw in my dad’s shop over Thanksgiving.

Jessica in Graham, NC

Wow Theresa! How did get make that design???

Sue from Rochester

What if I just want to use the wood in it’s natural shape? Do I just remove the bark and sand it down before sealing with the oil? What is the best way to remove the bark. I am using black walnut. Thanks!

Ash Robertson

Hi everyone. I’ve come across this thread as i’m making one at the moment. mines a natural looking piece of wood. about 1.25″ thick and about 18″ x 20″ so a decent size! The wood is wainy edged. so still has bark and i have no intention of cutting it off. the bark is on 2 sides of the board and it was cut square by the saw mill i bought it from. i say to anyone find a local saw mill and buy a wood from them.

Not only will they square and plane it for you normally free of charge they’ll also be very much cheaper than anywhere else and offer good advice on what wood to use and how to finish it. because i like the natural look mine just needs sanding and oiling and its good to go. i also got a matching 4′ x 12″ piece same thickness which i will finish and use as a giant serving plank if you like to place in the middle of the dining table. i can add pictures sometime if anyone’s interested.

In terms of what wood to use. always hardwoods. but with oak as example the wood has acids in which react with water. Not an issue for the food. the oil will stop this happening but as soon as a knife goes into the wood the water will get into it as the cut will be below the oil level and the cut will turn black. therefore board will not look good for long and need regular sanding to remove. go for either sycamore or beech with much less acid and board will look better for longer.

Like i said before though. buy from a sawmill and tell them what you’re making with it. sorry that was a bit long winded.

Annie

Could extra virgin olive oil be used? I use it a lot around my house so I would quite like to use it when making my board!

MidAtlantic Mike

Walmart sells one pint containers of food/pharmaceutical grade mineral oil ($1.49) in the pharmacy aisles, as a laxative of all things. It’s commonly used as an excellent food safe matte finish/protectant for wood cutting boards and counter tops.

Kait

Brilliant!!! I love this idea, I will definitely be giving this a try in the near future! What a great gift idea too!

RAL

I have just made some boards out of Australian Blackwood and the Olive Oil coating has brought out the colour and grain beautifully. Thank you for the advice everyone!

Augustine Rhodes

I would like to see pictures of Ash Robertson’s board when it is complete. I plan to do just as he suggested, to go to a sawmill and tell them what I plan to make and ask for assistance.

Mary Beth Rhyne

If you plan to make these as a gift, please make sure you don’t use “nut” woods, such as pecan or walnut and do not use oils made from nuts as a finish. People with nut allergies could have a life strengthening reaction to them

Janet Lynch

Can I use green cut wood or should I let the wood dry out before cutting the slab ?

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