Cutting Board Learning #1: First Steps

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Blog entry by Davidramsey03 posted 07-24-2008 02:06 AM 1272 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Cutting Board Learning series Part 2: Making Progress »


I bought some clearance pen blanks from Rockler (Pau Ferro, Indian Rosewood, and Cherry, I think).
Not having any “larger” tools or super-fine precision tools (band saw, table saw, router table, etc.) I decided I would begin the adventure the “backwoods” way.

I Started by laying them together, checking to see what orientation fit best for each piece. In hindsight, I now know I should have sanded each piece individually first to get a nicer layout.

Then I put the setup in a shoebox, put woodglue between all pieces, and tightened with rope (I know, bad idea) as I didn’t have any clamps but “A” clamps. Not pictured, but I wedged the woodglue bottle on the right side to add additional pressure.

After glue….not bad for winging it, i guess…but still looks pretty rough.

Sanded, coated with mineral oil, then wiped off excess with cotton rag.
Not bad, I think with clamps and pre-sanding, the next piece might look nice…
BY THE WAY, on the bottom right of this picture, there are some grooves in the wood. I tried to sand these down, but they didn’t want to go away? Why did this happen?

5 comments so far

View lew's profile


13218 posts in 4672 days

#1 posted 07-24-2008 02:24 AM

Better looking than my first attempt.

I believe your thoughts on sanding and clamping are correct. Those things should make the pieces fit together easier.

The grooves you mentioned may just need more sanding. Try using a course grit sand paper first (maybe 80) and then progress to finer grits before you apply the finish. Even the smallest imperfections are “enhanced” by the finish. Because you used mineral oil, as a finish, you can go back and re-sand the piece and then add more oil.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Dusty56's profile


11861 posts in 4605 days

#2 posted 07-24-2008 05:03 AM

A+ for your effort , my friend…the colors are nice and , Yes , you do need to sand out those scratches with a coarser grit paper and then work your back up thru the grits to your finest grit paper. That is a cute lil board , probably good for tomatoes or onions , etc.. Keep up the good work and spend that $25 on some good clamps !!!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4701 days

#3 posted 07-24-2008 11:05 AM

Another option (and I think you still could do it) is to make it an end-grain cutting board. Do a search here for that, or check out the Wood Whisperer website for a video on how to do it.

-- Eric at

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 4907 days

#4 posted 07-24-2008 02:45 PM

Great idea! I may try this too. I’m wondering what the advantage of using the shoe box was. Was it to contain the glue or does it somehow aid in tightening the ropes?

-- Jim

View Davidramsey03's profile


8 posts in 4512 days

#5 posted 07-24-2008 03:43 PM

@OutPutter: The shoebox was multipurpose. I needed something to contain the glue, since I did this inside, it also gave me the 2 sides to keep the boards flush, and 3rd the loose piece of rope you see hanging over the top was cinched down and then fed back up through the holes on the right to keep it tight. Very improv style, but worked fairly well. Once I get a couple clamps, I’ll do a followup on this, and sand everything first to compare.

@Eric: End-grain boards look awesome, but are a bit more difficult from what I’ve read. I feel I need to get past the beginner part first before I try that. But that’s definitely a future project of mine.

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