How To Build A Fancy Cutting Board

How To Build A Fancy Cutting Board

I got a lot of great feedback and interest on Artistic Wood Products to publish a tutorial about making cutting boards, so I have decided to show it one more time. It definitely is unique in design in comparison to most cutting boards made in the woodshop.

The majority of woodworkers will run the cutting board slats side to side whereas this woodworker mitered the outside and boxed the other 2 layers in. Here is what he did:


A long time ago, Alex lufrank, had a chance to get some wood – so he did. Many years later he let me send some of it home because I thought it would make something nice. And then it sat… and sat… and sat… but I never forgot about it.


Some of the pieces have a unique combination of wood grain: part sap wood, and part heart wood – and all of it spalted. (A “water stain” effect.)


Cutting boards are made of glued up segments, so the wood must be cut…


Most of the pieces have an angle on one end that isn’t really useful, so it gets chopped off…


Playing around with the resulting segments, a sort of arrangement comes to mind. It sort of looks like “sand art” – a landscape scene: Land & Sky


When enough segments look like they more or less belong together, they can be glued up to form the heart of the cutting board…


Now, by itself, that’s pretty boring. But with some coordinating woods for a border…? Well… those segments get glued up too!


Of course, all that gluing comes out somewhat less than perfect… so it has to be sanded down. And sanded… and sanded…


When it’s more-or-less flat… you can think about starting to finish sand… and sand… and sand…


Now, eventually, it will need to be cut to a final size… all neat and even…


And then the edges get rounded over on the router table…


Finish cuts and routing always leave tool marks, so it’s time to finish sand… and sand… and sand…


But… eventually… it’s DONE!!! Time for a few coats of mineral oil… to provide a sealant and bring out the color…



The outside white border is Rock Maple, which is loved for its tight grain, almost white color, and ability to stand up to punishment. The dark border is Wenge’, which is African. The center segments are all spalted Hickory, and a combination of heartwood, (the land), and sap wood, (the sky).

Not surprisingly, the sap wood, being softer, has reacted more to exposure to the weather, and that helped create the interesting “sky.” Normally, a cutting board is assembled with end-grain facing up. This ensures the board will last longer, because the cutting action hits the wood fibers “end on” – so it takes a long time to cut the wood itself in the process.


Note: because these are wood boards, and face up instead of end grain, they should only be used for Bread, Cheese, and / or Vegetables. Never ever put proteins on a wood board – especially not poultry.  In short, the blood and bacteria will penetrate the wood fibers, and cross contamination will be an absolute certainty. Bread, cheese, and veggies pose no such problem – so limit use of this board to those.

Cleaning:  Wash with soapy water, rinse well, and pat dry. Never put a wood board in a dishwasher. It’s best to wash both sides of the board so the moisture is consistent side-to-side. This helps prevent warping.

Finish: Apply some mineral oil every few washes – whenever the surface starts to look “patchy.” Let it sink in for about 20 minutes, and then wipe off the excess. Don’t use Olive Oil, or other cooking oils, as they will eventually go rancid and the board will be ruined.





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