DIY: Cutting Board

Most of my posts are about restaurants in The Greatest City in America, but we do a fair amount of cooking at home.  I loved my large large wooden cutting board, but after about three years, it started to warp.  New ones are super expensive – especially since I am lazy and didn’t do that good a job taking care of the first one (hence the warping – even though it came with a fancy take care of me goo).

While I was looking online for a new board, I found a few ideas about doing it yourself.  You need to use a hardwood.  I went to the Lowes and asked the guy for their hard woods.  They have several choices – and if you do much research you will find out why you should and should not use maple, walnut, red oak, and most of the hard woods they have here.  There are lots of reasons: open grain and closed grain or too porous.  For every negative reason, there is one saying everything will be fine.  Needless to say, this was my first attempt and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on the wood to screw it up.  I chose three – walnut, oak and maple – kind of ranging in colors.  Feel free to do all your research head to a cabinet store for fancy wood. It gets a little more complicated if you choose woods of different sizes.

I also don’t have a miter saw; I had the Lowes guys cut the hard wood 1×2 to 18 inch pieces.  A 1×2 isn’t quite 1in by 2in, it’s actually a little more like 0.75in by 1.5in.  I didn’t do a great job of accounting for this or the trimming, so my board is a little more square than I was expecting.  It was also a lot easier.


  • wood pieces – consider the size and color you want the board.
  • wood glue – I used the green titebond ultimate III.
  • bar clamps – long enough to clamp all the pieces of the board together once glued – mine are 24”.
  • circular saw – probably not necessary as you can use a sander – but it will take a while.
  • sander/sandpaper in various grades (I used 40, 80, 120, and 200).
  • clean cloths/paint brush
  • butcher block oil – food safe mineral oil or non-petroleum based product.

Step 1:
Use a cloth under the wood or glue outside cause you will have some glue drips – it’s actually as sign you’re doing it right.  I put glue on the wide side of my already cut pieces of wood; I want a thick board – this will make it about an inch and a half thick. I went with a thin line and then stuck it to another piece randomly picking different shades of wood.  This is going to make the stripes thinner and the board thicker.  I laid them side by side on another piece of wood to keep them as level as possible.

Step 2:
Clamp it up. Make it as tight as you can – you will see the glue…

Step 3:
One of the annoying steps – Wait… You definitely want to wait 30 min as it says on the bottle, but I waited overnight.

I also wiped some of the glue before it completely dried to avoid having to sand the glue dots.

Step 4:
I trimmed the two edges down with a circular saw, since I had one. I went about 1/4in in from the shortest board. I guess the Lowes guy didn’t get all of them quite 18 inches; the boards were off by about a 1/2 inch or so.

Step 5:
Sanding. I used a random orbital sander, which made my hand feel a little funny after a while.  Depending on your arm strength and patience, you could probably use sand paper blocks.  I started with a 40 grit, especially helpful for the side that wasn’t level on the boards.  Turns out the 1×2’s direct from the store aren’t the same width either…

Step 6:
This one also involves a bit a patience.  Take a clean cloth or paint brush to apply a coat of the oil. I put the oil on all sides.
Then you gotta wait… again… I waited about 4 hours between applications.
And then repeat. Anywhere from 4 to 12 times, until you feel like the wood is fully coated.

And then you have a beautiful cutting board or display board. You wanna grab an extra bottle of the oil, so you can take care of the board every other month or so.

Yes, Yes… I’ll be taking orders. 🙂

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