006: pallet wood cutting board #4: rounding over, sanding, and finishing

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-31-2010 09:26 AM 11890 reads 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: cleaned up, ready for final shaping and finishing Part 4 of 006: pallet wood cutting board series no next part

I decided it would probably be boring to show each step from the previous ‘milling everything flat and square’ post, to the final board, so here’s the final board, all finished:

finished end grain cutting board

It is 6-3/4”x8-5/8” and a little over 1.75” thick. Or, you know, about the size of the US hardcover edition of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” though the book is a little less than an inch taller in the longest dimension. Note the butcher’s block conditioner (Howard brand), my personal brand, and my hand for scale:

finished end grain cutting board

It’s a little guy! I used CA glue to fill in the few small checks, and the knotty area in the bottom, then had at it with the ROS again to smooth it back down. No big voids now. I’ve determined that it’s white oak in the middle, the 4 dark bands on each side of the white oak band are red oak, possibly of mixed species, and the lighter, blond wood, all of the same, sweet-smelling species, remains as yet unknown:

finished end grain cutting board

Here are the feet, and my brand:

underside of finished end grain cutting board

Another shot with the brand and conditioner:

underside of finished end grain cutting board

Closeup of the brand mark (I love that thing):

Hand Crafted By Gary Fixler, 2010, brand

And here’s a shot with the light reflecting in it:

finished end grain cutting board

I like the way the long edge faces came out. Putting the dark band of white oak in the middle worked out by showing off the prettier red oak with the vertical black stripe, which is mirrored 3x on each long edge, as it’s the same board cut into 6 2” lengths (originally, before being planed down closer to 1.75”).

Oak always gives that heavily checked appearance in the end grain, thanks to the medullary rays that are so pronounced. It makes it look like many of these pieces are split, though in real life it’s much less obvious, and more apparent that there is lighter, ray fiber material filling those spaces entirely.

I will post this as a project just to get another one on the board. I’ve put on 3 coats of the conditioner, allowing about an hour in between each, and have a few more to go before I’ll call it conditioned. I’m rubbing it in pretty hard to help warm up the wood and conditioner and to make sure it presses deeply into those pesky oak pores.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

13 comments so far

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4625 days

#1 posted 03-31-2010 12:12 PM

cool little cutting board

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5159 days

#2 posted 03-31-2010 12:37 PM

Gary, this is a nice cutter and I really enjoy that it was crafted from “found” wood.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5025 days

#3 posted 03-31-2010 02:38 PM

Very nicely done , Gary : ) Have you ever tried warming the oil before applying it ?
I have a different brand that recommends letting the plastic bottle soak in hot water for a time before using it.
I also have a friend that “warms” his boards up in a 150-200 degree oven as well as the oil / beeswax mixture that he uses. I don’t know if it’s worth all of the extra effort , but he thinks it is.
I mostly use regular Mineral Oil and sometimes add wax to it .
Does the conditioner that you’re using leave the wood in its Natural color ? Do you apply anything over the conditioner afterwards ?
Thanks : )

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

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 4706 days

#4 posted 03-31-2010 02:59 PM

Gary nice job

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5583 days

#5 posted 03-31-2010 03:19 PM

Very cool!!

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Porosky's profile


619 posts in 4701 days

#6 posted 03-31-2010 03:40 PM

Nice Gary. There is a huge “Green” Recycled market out there that this product is perfect for. I’d say that this should be at the upper end of that market based on the fine craftsmanship. I’d dare say this maybe worth more as a reclaimed cutting board/piece of wood because it is so nice. A lot of reclaimed wood cutting boards look… well… reclaimed. Just thought I’d share my two cents about cents, it was what popped into mind first so it made sence. Have you made any more since? sorry ;)

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4985 days

#7 posted 03-31-2010 03:47 PM

looks fantastic!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dvhart's profile


111 posts in 4352 days

#8 posted 03-31-2010 04:07 PM

I love the brand – where did you pick that up?

-- Darren

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4927 days

#9 posted 03-31-2010 05:36 PM

who knows it was made out of pallet board…!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4719 days

#10 posted 03-31-2010 09:50 PM

Thanks, everybody!

Dusty – it does say on the bottle that it’s best to apply when warm so it soaks in better. I have not tried that. Like I said, I rub hard which helps to warm it a little and push it in, but it’s not going to be quite the same as boiling the bottle or putting the board in an oven. You mention mineral oil and wax. The bottle actually says “a mix of food grade mineral oil and natural waxes” :) The conditioner most definitely does not leave it in its natural color. It imparts a pretty strong orange/yellow hue to the wood. If you go back a post in this set, you’ll see the pre-finished board, and it’s much more pale, and less yellowy orange. I’ve also used this stuff to seal up the top of Modesto ash cake stand, which was just a large round atop a smaller log. It turned it from a pale beige to a dark, deep orange-yellow as well. I don’t put anything beneath or on top of it. It seems this stuff is meant to go it alone.

porosky – I hope so! I’ve heard the term ‘upcycled’ a few times on sites selling recycled stuff like this. I think there’s definitely a movement, and hopefully it’ll help out a bit in these troubled financial times.

Purp – glad you still like it!

Darren – I got the branding iron as a gift from my mother. She got it at Rockler. They have a bunch. Mine is the first one, #26268, Basic arc Branding Iron , 1 line – Electric. When you add it to your cart, it’ll let you type in a name, up to 20 characters. I also got the date attachment, #21568, Date Attachment for Electrically heated Branding Irons. It’s a little bit of a pain to get it positioned properly, and you should definitely test a lot before branding anything. It probably took me 30 or so tests now and then between projects to get good at getting it where I wanted and making sure the whole thing burns in. I’ve also found it’s better to overburn, rocking the pressure to the corners over and over, then sand a bit to remove surrounding burn marks then to end up with missing corners, or a faint image.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 4440 days

#11 posted 04-01-2010 05:52 AM

Don’t know if you need or want more pallets, but on CL in the LA FREE category there is somewone with a LOT of pallets they are giving away.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4719 days

#12 posted 04-01-2010 06:04 AM

Thanks, bigfish! Alas, I don’t need any more. There are several on CL every week or so, but I see them almost everywhere I go here in west LA. There are perhaps literally 1.3 zillion shops and small industrial places intermixed with industrial/auto/mechanic/machine shops, and they’re scattered all through residential areas. I’ve found them behind fast food places – got one from El Pollo Loco down the street – leaning against a tree outside a furniture store 2 blocks from my home (walked home with one of those 2x now) – stacked up at car repair shops, all around other restaurants, at hardware stores, and this one came from a stack at a bearing shop, all cut up for me by the trash. I got some from a movie PR firm once, and still have those – really clean, solid ones. In fact, I still have about 3x what I used here just from the pallet these came from. I wish I could go through it a lot faster and make salable items in the several-per-day numbers! I’d make quite a nice little side income. Thanks for giving me the heads up anyway! I appreciate it.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Gary Salisbury's profile

Gary Salisbury

6 posts in 2238 days

#13 posted 01-15-2016 11:52 PM

I know this is an old blog but let me make a comment and ask a question.

1. It is a very pretty board. I really like the look, however,

2. am I mistaken that the grain direction changes between strips? It looks like end grain, cross grain, end grain, cross grain, etc. If so, then wouldn’t there tend to be cracking because the expansion rates would be different?

Just a novice trying to learn….....

-- Gary Salisbury, "Who was that masked man?" (

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