First cutting boards, w/ questions

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Project by Ajs73 posted 06-06-2014 12:19 AM 2092 views 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all, I see all you guys & gals
making these beautiful boards and
thought I’d give it a try. ( looks easy )
I was wrong. I figured out the basics
and never really researched how to
do it but that’s what it’s about ( trial &
error ) The oak board 21”x11×1 1/4
I made from 1 1/4×1 1/4 stair ballisters. No machining, just glued up, sanded,
rounded the edges, & finished.
(A lot of sanding, No planer ) The second board 29”x12”x1 1/4
was made from
cabinet filler strips 3/4 x 3” wide. I cut them
in half, stood them up & glued together
with a couple other different kinds of
filler strips.
(Don’t know what kind of wood but label
said maple spice on one of them) Ran
through planer ( bought one after first board,
saved ALOT of time ) sand, finish. Can someone please explain the
different kind of cutting boards there
are ? I always see end grain cutting
boards but what is it called when the
side of a 3/4 board is on the surface
(Idk if I know what end grain means) All help is appreciated and thank
You in advance

-- Andy, NE Ohio

21 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3379 days

#1 posted 06-06-2014 12:27 AM

You have edge grain boards when the using the “sides” of the individual boards. The end grain boards will use the ends of the boards for the top and bottom of your board. End grain is more desirable for a couple of reasons. You will not sever the wood fibers like a face grain or edge grain board, and the end grain board is better for the knife edge as well.

Looks like you did a nice job on your first attempt. They are only limited by your imagination.

View kirbi69's profile


83 posts in 2364 days

#2 posted 06-06-2014 01:18 AM

ki have a qeustion to add on, what is the best finish to apply to a cutting board? shellac?

View Hippockets's profile


93 posts in 3887 days

#3 posted 06-06-2014 03:49 AM

A cutting board should not have a hard finish (shellac, varnish, etc.). The most often used finish is mineral oil.

-- Bruce, Arnold MD [email protected]

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

318 posts in 2267 days

#4 posted 06-06-2014 04:40 AM

The butcher block finish you used should be food safe, but the less expensive and just as effective choice is beeswax melted in mineral oil on the stove. Mineral Oil is found in the laxative section of your local drug store. This is inexpensive and provides the best protection for the food and for the board. The board should be saturated with mineral oil at least once a week for the first month and then once a month after. Add the wax once a year.

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View Ajs73's profile


160 posts in 2298 days

#5 posted 06-06-2014 10:44 AM

Thanks for all the help, where do I buy
Bees wax and do you mix it 50/50 ?
Also is that mixture made as needed
or can it be stored ?

-- Andy, NE Ohio

View ChrisK's profile


2046 posts in 3862 days

#6 posted 06-06-2014 11:54 AM

View doitforfun's profile


199 posts in 2388 days

#7 posted 06-06-2014 12:20 PM

What kind of glue is best for cutting boards? Obviously they will take a lot of abuse from washing so regular woof glue seems to be a bad choice. Also is there a glue that is preferred for contact with food?

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

View Matt (MWA Woodworks)'s profile

Matt (MWA Woodworks)

305 posts in 2393 days

#8 posted 06-06-2014 01:06 PM

regular wood glue (titebond II or III) will work just fine. Titebond III is supposed to be water resistant, but in reality the glue you use isnt going to be in direct contact with the food or water for that matter. The barrier you create with the oil and wax will keep water from really penetrating the wood and compromising the hold of the glue. I dont think I’ve seen any videos where someone used a special glue. Just regular wood glue.

-- Follow me on instagram and facebook @mwawoodworks

View mpounders's profile


965 posts in 3676 days

#9 posted 06-06-2014 01:38 PM

I don’t think you should try running an end grain cutting board through your planer either….both planer and cutting board will likely be destroyed! Sanding only on end grain boards….lots of sanding.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3848 days

#10 posted 06-06-2014 02:19 PM

I’ve been using 25% by volume beeswax/75% mineral oil as a topcoat after coating the boards several times with mineral oil. I store it in an old pickle jar; microwave pieces in a Pyrex measuring cup to liquefy for application. Working with hot wax is not my idea of fun, but the result is lovely.

Another tip: after the wax dries, then I put the boards in the sun to soften it. After the sun does it work, I remove the excess with a plastic scraper (no sharp edge!), and then rub for a smooth finish.

As to end grain and your planer … no worries. The big issue is chip out on the trailing edge, which can be significant. The solution is to glue a long grain strip across the end of that trailing edge, and then cut it off after the board is planed. Take very small cuts, and you’ll be fine.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View tme4tls's profile


21 posts in 3404 days

#11 posted 06-06-2014 04:20 PM


First – There is NO schedule for oiling a cutting board! Oil as needed and don’t over oil. This isn’t rocket science. When the area used most starts to look a little lighter than the surrounding area, it is time to apply the oil. Oil the underside on occasion as well. Bees wax will not provide a water repellant coating but it will add a little extra water repellency.

Second – Running an end grain board through a planer will destroy the blade edges! And it might make a permanent enemy of the planers owner as well if you use someone else’s planer.

Third – The glue used is important. Oil will not protect the glue from water penetration so a good type III glue should be used. “Regular” wood glue like white or yellow carpenters glue will dissolve with water contact. TiteBond III is water proof and USDA approved for indirect contact with food.

Fourth – Never, never, never put bees wax directly over a heat source like a stove. Always use a double boiler. It will flash and cause a fire if it gets to hot.

View Ajs73's profile


160 posts in 2298 days

#12 posted 06-06-2014 10:17 PM

Sure is a lot of conflicting &
confusing info. but all is appreciated.

-- Andy, NE Ohio

View jonah's profile


2122 posts in 4079 days

#13 posted 06-06-2014 10:30 PM

I’d use a varnish finish rather than mineral oil. Mineral oil makes the board look rather washed out and ugly, in my opinion, where a good food-safe-when-cured varnish makes the board look spectacular.

I like General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish, but there are other comparable products out there.

Varnish has the added benefit of only needing to be touched up every few years, depending on use. Mineral oil needs to be apply way, way, way too often for my taste.

View Arcola60's profile


106 posts in 3164 days

#14 posted 06-06-2014 11:15 PM

Nice boards! I have made only end grain boards. I have read where Titebond II is better thanTitebond III due to the excellent water resistance. It sets much faster than Titebond III. It has worked really well for me. It may not be the BEST glue, but it will work well.
As for my choice of woods, Maple is the staple, for cutting boards. I stay away from naturally oily woods, and coarse grain woods: red oak, ash, hickory are some that are coarse/open grain. This can trap food particles and make a place for bacteria to form. The wood database is a very good source for information and recommendations.
I have been using 1 1/2” and 2” turning squares. The wood is almost knot free, and straight grained. When they go on sale I get them.
I use my plunge router in a router sled based on the wood whisperer’s design to flatten the end grain. I use double sided tape to hold it in place. Minimal depth cuts until it cleans up. The sanding is the killer.
I have built a V-Drum sander from the Stockroom Supply design. It has cut the sanding down in half or more.
I just use mineral oil for the finish. I have over 18 different species of hardwoods that I use. I try to make the lighter woods smaller than the darker woods. I find that the darker woods have more grain appearance than Maple. This is just how I do it. There are many ways to do it and get excellent results. Thanks for posting. Keep up the good work!

Ellery Becnel

View Mean_Dean's profile


7043 posts in 3928 days

#15 posted 06-07-2014 12:26 AM

Here are the “Golden Rules” of cutting boards, as I’ve learned them over the years:

—Hard maple, or walnut make good boards, due to their grain/pore structure.

—Titebond III is the correct glue to use. It’s food safe when fully cured, and will stand up to getting wet.

—No varnish on the cutting surface (Salad bowl finish is varnish) due to the finish getting cut up along with your veggies. Use mineral oil, and reapply as needed.

—Never run an endgrain board through the planer. It’ll damage the blades at best, and can explode in the planer at worst. (Actually, the worst would be standing in front of the planer and getting injured by the flying schrapnel…....)

Good luck, and keep posting your boards!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

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