Text Resize

  • -A
  • +A
  • No votes yet

    Build an Edge-Grain Cutting Board





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Cutting boards are a great first project for the budding woodworker. Not only are they easy to build, they're a great tool for teaching folks the basics about a variety of different machines. To produce this project, I used a rather large jointer I have access to here at the Fine Woodworking shop but don't worry, there are alternatives—including the use of pre-surfaced lumber purchased from your local home center. For the more daring newbies out there, you might even consider surfacing your lumber with hand tools—gasp!

    And if you're in search of even more cutting board projects and patterns, be sure to have a look at our Getting Started in Woodworking series.


    How to Make

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeMill your lumber

    Mill Your Lumber: The milling process starts with flattening. Begin by passing your boards over the jointer first, making a series of light cuts. You'll want to continue jointing your stock until any cup in the board has been eliminated, and the wood is able to lie perfectly flat—across its width and length—on the jointer bed.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargePlaning the Wood

    Planing the Wood: With one face flattened, you can take your stock to the planer, again, making a series of cuts, sneaking up to your final thickness. For my cutting board, I chose to surface my stock to 1 in. *When surfacing wood, feed direction is critical. Planing or jointing wood in the opposite direction of the grain can lead to ugly tearout that's tough to get rid of. More about milling lumber.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeJoint an Edge

    Joint an Edge: Step back to the jointer and surface the concave side until it's perfectly flat. This edge will register against your tablesaw's rip fence in the next step, so it needs to be straight and true. Since both faces are flat and straight, you can flip the board either way to avoid tearout.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeRip Your Strips

    Rip Your Strips: This cutting board is nothing more than a series of 1-in.-thick strips of wood. Once you've milled your lumber and achieved one flat edge, head to the tablesaw. Using a push stick, rip a series of 1-1/2-in. strips. *Blade guard removed for visual clarity. More about tablesaw safety.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeArrange Your Design

    Arrange Your Design: With the ripping done, it's time to arrange your strips into a pleasing pattern. I combined 12 strips of mahogany, hard maple, and cherry for my board. This is the time to get creative. Try and stay away from a simple alternating pattern and mix it up!

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeGlue-Up

    Glue-Up: Regarding glue, choose a waterproof PVA glue like Titebond III. Rest your strips atop your first two (outer) clamps and begin to spread glue—starting on the inside surface of the first (outer) strip—on every other surface. I spread glue on three strips at a time, then press them together and move on to the next set of three. When mating a pair of strips, it's a good idea to wiggle the two pieces back and forth a few times. This helps to spread the glue evenly between the two surfaces.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeTime for Some Clamps

    Time for Some Clamps: Once your entire cutting board has been glued up, begin the clamping process. I begin by tightening the two outer clamps, then filling in the center with as many more clamps as I can fit. Just be sure your wood strips don't begin to pop out of alignment as the pressure builds.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeScrape Away Squeeze-Out

    Scrape Away Squeeze-Out: Allow your glue to dry for at least four hours, and unclamp your blank. If you did a thorough job of spreading glue, you've probably got a good amount of squeeze-out. Before you can proceed to the final surfacing of your cutting board, you'll need to remove as much of that extra glue as possible. For this job, you can use a specialty glue scraping tool called a chisel plane, but a card scraper and a good amount of elbow grease will also get the job done.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeMill and Plane

    Surface Your Blank: Once you've removed as much of the glue squeeze-out as possible, surface the entire blank to a uniform thickness.Use the same techniques you'd employ for general milling; begin by jointing one face until it's perfectly flat, then head to the planer and flatten the opposite face.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeTrim to Size

    Trim to Size: Now it's time to turn your attention to trimming the ends square. Don't turn to a miter gauge on the tablesaw for this procedure. For a safe, straight cut, use either a crosscut sled on the tablesaw (as seen here) or a circular saw with a fence clamped to your workpiece.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeRout the Hand Holds

    Rout the Hand Holds: Using a cove router bit and two stop blocks clamped to the fence of my router table, I cut a hand hold (see detail photos at top of post) on each end of the cutting board. To cut a 4-1/2-in. hand hold, find the center of your board's ends and measure out 2-1/4-in. in either direction. Remember, You don't need a router table to make this cut. You could also use a handheld router with an accessory fence.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeAddress any Tearout

    Address any Tear-Out: Take a close look at your cutting board. If you see any spots where your jointer or planer caused tearout, address them now. Using a simple card scraper, work the tearout and the surrounding area (you don't want to produce a gully) until it disappears.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeEase Your Edges

    Ease Your Edges: Using a block plane and a bit of 220-grit sandpaper, ease all the edges and corners of your cutting board. There's nothing worse than grabbing a sharp edge! Be careful when using the block plane on the end grain corners. Simply passing the plane from one end of the board to the other could cause a sliver to blow out at the end of your cut. Try passing the plane from the outside, to the center on one end. Now make the same cut from the opposite end.This will ensure a perfect, clean edge.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeSand for a Super-Smooth Finish

    Sand for a Super-Smooth Finish: Using a sanding block, sand the cutting board using 220-grit sandpaper. You'll want to raise the grain with water after the initial sanding, and then sand once again using 220-grit and 320-grit sandpaper. If you omit the wet sanding, your board's grain will raise the very first time you use it in the kitchen. This technique will ensure a much smoother finish for the life of the board.

    Mill Your Lumberclick to enlargeApply Finish

    Apply Finish: When it comes to finishing, two great choices are walnut oil and mineral oil. Each of these natural, food-safe finishes has its own positive and negative attributes. Mineral oil dries clear but takes a very long time to cure. Walnut oil dries pretty quickly but tends to impart a slightly yellow color to the wood. Either way, be sure to apply several coats and let the cutting board dry thoroughly before you begin to use it. And don't be shy when it comes to adding additional coats throughout the life of the board.



    Ed_Pirnik

    Comments

    Hey There. I found your blog

    ashleydanielle
    ashley danielle writes:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return   megashare new moon

    Edge-grain cutting board

    pizza
    Paul Zadworniak writes:

    The title of this how-to article is mis-leading. This is NOT an edge-grain cutting board. It is a plain-sawn cutting board. The cutting surface doesn't end up having the edge-grain exposed as in all edge-grained cutting boards.

    No where in the "how-to make" instructions does it even mention the word "edge-grain".

    Also, is it safe to use walnut oil? Aren't some people allergic to that? Could the walnut oil end up a bit on the food that's being cut?

    This IS an edge grain board, if you follow the instructions

    WoodBear508
    Thomas Filpus writes: The stock is jointed and planed to 1" thick x 30", then ripped to 1.5" strips. This give you a rectangular strip, 1" x 1.5" x 30". When glued up, the strips are oriented so the 1" side faces up. This means the edges are now on top, which is the definition of an end grain cutting board. If you look carefully at the edge of the board in later photos-- especially the one about easing the edge -- you can see the rectangular cross section of the individual strips, with the 1" on top and the 1.5" on the vertical axis. Hope this clears things up

    Cutting Board

    CoyoteKiller1
    Tim Cummings writes:

    Very nice job on the cutting board. I'm wondering if it is possible to accomplish the jointing and planing for this project using readily available hand tools such as hand planes etc. if so, which hand tools do you recommend? If it is possible to accomplish these shaping techniques using hand tools, perhaps you could demonstrate how to do this in a future project. Like most new woodworkers, I'm willing to try and I'm willing to learn but I don't know where to start.

    Delaware computer repair

    Georgeufiq
    Georgeufiq writes: Hi everyone I recently wanted to introduce myself. If you have questions please inquire. Remorseful with regard to my negative english

    I consider myself a rookie

    4d9525865b78e
    David Salek-Raham writes:

    I consider myself a rookie woodworker.  I have a tablesaw, bandsaw, router and table saw and most handtools.  As a rookie, I don't yet have jointers and planers.  This project requires those tools.  I can't believe you would post a project for beginners that requires tools costing potentially thousands of dollars.

    When dealing with wood

    bricofleur
    Bricofleur - writes:

    When dealing with wood, as a rookie, think the way woodworkers would think 100 years ago.They didn't have power tools, but only hand tools and skills. And skills are developped only by trial and error, and/or practice. There's no need for power tools, only the will is required.

    Best,

    Serge

    http://atelierdubricoleur.wordpress.com

    I consider myself a rookie

    4d9525865b78e
    David Salek-Raham writes:

    I consider myself a rookie woodworker.  I have a tablesaw, bandsaw, router and table saw and most handtools.  As a rookie, I don't yet have jointers and planers.  This project requires those tools.  I can't believe you would post a project for beginners that requires tools costing potentially thousands of dollars.

    Need a variety of projects

    GEide
    Gina Eide writes:

    Hi David,

    You make a good point. I don't have these machines in my home "shop" either. As we put together more projects for this site, it'll be important to include a variety of projects using a variety of tools.

    If you have a community shop in your area, that's one great way to tackle projects with heavier-duty equipment. Here in CT, the Woodcraft in Norwalk lets you rent out shop space: http://www.woodcraft.com/stores/store.aspx?id=105&page=home

    It's a great way to test out equipment and projects without committing to expensive tools right away.

    I've also taken a lot of woodworking classes as a way to make larger-scale projects even though I don't own the machines to build the projects at home.

    Keep us posted on your woodworking journey. Post photos of your work in the gallery (http://www.startwoodworking.com/node/add/gallery) or post blog posts about your shop adventures. Let others know how you're getting by with minimal tools: http://www.startwoodworking.com/node/add/post

    Gina, StartWoodworking.com

    RE: I consider myself a rookie

    Greg_Holmes
    Gregory Holmes writes: I'd put myself somehere between rookie and novice, but I have to take issue with David's comment to the editors. I have a decent selection of tools, including a jointer and a planer. I paid $50 for the 6" Craftsman jointer and $80 for the 12" Delta thickness planer. Both were purchased used and both needed a bit of TLC to get them in top condition. For all the rookies out there, please don't be discouraged if you don't yet have the equipment to do a project. There are almost always alternative methods. For example, you can execute this project with a hand plane in lieu of the power equipment. A router can also be used to joint edges. I wouldn't recommend that anyone spend thousands of dollars on their first (insert power tool here). Buy something used and/or on the lower end of the scale. Use it for a while, learn what you like and don't like, then sell it to another rookie and go buy the high end model of your choice.
    Login or register to post comments