Reclaimed pallet wood cutting board (mostly white and red oak)

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Project by Gary Fixler posted 03-31-2010 09:47 AM 42862 views 10 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The series for this project – here is quite in-depth, so I won’t recreate it here. I’ll just sum up…

I got a stack of slats from a pallet from a local bearing shop all cut up nicely in a stack of 14”-16” pieces. Sorting them, I found many that appeared to be kinds of oak. I ran these over the jointer, through the planer, and cleaned up their edges, then glued them up into a block. In the process, I figured out a few boards were white oak, many more were red oak, and as many more were a yellow wood I’ve not yet identified.

The glued-up block was jointed and planed again to parallel and square, ends cut off and saw’s unfortunate burn marks sanded away on the belt sander, set up to perfect 90°s again. Now I had a perfect block in the neighborhood of 3”x4”x13.75”. I took pictures and used them to model a replica in Google SketchUp. Now I could cut this apart virtually on my PC and try out different configurations of blocks, including end grain vs. long grain boards. I selected a style and cut the block up into 2” thick chunks with a dull 1”, 2TPI blade in my band saw, burning the cut faces to black.

Running the edges on the belt sander to flatten them (hard to get perfect), then gluing these together gave me an ugly, lumpy mess, but then running the router sled over it got it perfectly flat, and to an even thickness, flat to less than 1/128th of an inch deviation across the entire surface – not important, but nice to see.

I ran it again over the jointer to get one long and one short edge sharp and at 90° to the faces, then ran it through the circular saw on a miter sled to get the opposite edges parallel. One more kiss-pass on the jointer to remove that pesky saw burn and I had another perfect block with a new set of dimensions.

I ran it around the router table with a large roundover bit (forget the size), sanded it all up with an ROS and hand sanding down to 220 grit, marked and drilled holes for the rubber feet, hit it with the brand, oiled up the bottom with butcher block conditioner, screwed in the feet, flipped it over, and have since been conditioning the top and sides with the conditioner in multiple coats applied about once an hour, probably to a limit of 5 or 6 total coats before I put it up for sale online.

The final cutting board is 6-3/4” x 8-5/8” x a bit over 1.75” thick. It stands about a half inch higher on its rubber feet.

Thanks for reading! The whole process only took about 3 days of light work. Not bad! Having the planer back is quite a help.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

17 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4650 days

#1 posted 03-31-2010 10:22 AM

Gary free is good! It looks great! Haven’t talk to you in a while, hope all is well. Been busy remodeling my backyard in between the rain and company from the East Coast! Talk to you soon, keep making saw dust!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 4521 days

#2 posted 03-31-2010 11:22 AM

Nice cutting board. I’ve found a source for free pallet wood also. The species of wood that I have identified so far are, white oak, red oak, poplar and maple. That “yellow” would you mention above is probably poplar. It often has a yellowish color to it. If it has any green streaks in it, it almost certainly is poplar.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 4488 days

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

YAY for reusing old stuff. Also I love how big and thick the cutting board is. Nice big butcher block style.

-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4477 days

#4 posted 03-31-2010 01:42 PM

Congrats on the recycling. Cannot get pallet wood here, it’s all pines & split up..Great project.

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 5037 days

#5 posted 03-31-2010 02:56 PM

Free pallet wood works for me Gary.

Those boards cam out real nice.
I think I’m going to try some of those.

Good job.

View TwoThumbBruce's profile


56 posts in 4478 days

#6 posted 03-31-2010 05:57 PM

Gary, Great wood and really nice block! I like your brand on the bottom which adds a nice personal touch. Where do you get them?

-- Bruce, Florida

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1600 posts in 4713 days

#7 posted 03-31-2010 06:12 PM

Awesome job on your cutting board. I know exactly the work that went into making that cutting board, and you did a outstanding job. I had a old cutting board giveing to me and some one submerged it in water and it was cracking where the glue was. Well i cut it and planed it and joined it. It was a job. You did a superb job.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 4448 days

#8 posted 03-31-2010 07:29 PM

I’ve always enjoyed using reclaimed wood for projects. What a creative use for the sturdy oak you found!

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View Danestar's profile


32 posts in 4511 days

#9 posted 03-31-2010 10:06 PM

Nice job and thanks for the idea. I saw your post on FB and went to see what I had when I got to work this am… to my disbelief I have two with black walnut slats mixed with oak slats… I cant believe I haven’t look at these sooner. We get them all the time and leave them for guys to pick up for free. Oh well now I know…

View Jason Tetterton's profile

Jason Tetterton

54 posts in 4484 days

#10 posted 04-01-2010 06:29 AM

That is a good looking piece of scrap wood! Very thick, I love it!

-- Jason, Central Virginia

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4892 days

#11 posted 04-01-2010 07:50 AM

Great use of pallet wood. Real nice cutter.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Jerry's profile


80 posts in 4615 days

#12 posted 04-02-2010 06:28 AM

I got some really nice birdseye maple and some white oak from some pallets a few years ago. I decided then whoever it was that invented the “Spiral Nail” should firmly and repeatedly pimp slapped.

Unless you are building a boat, you should never use ring shank or spiral nails for ANYTHING that EVER may be taken apart by some poor soul! Ha ha!

BTW< Nice board! I too know the work involved in making these!

-- "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should be a Store, Not a Govt. Agency"

View CSlabon's profile


302 posts in 4739 days

#13 posted 04-02-2010 06:45 AM

Nice work. Just hope the yellow wood is not poison But seriously, I hope it’s not some toxic species of wood.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4843 days

#14 posted 04-05-2010 02:56 PM

Thanks for all the kind words, folks!

I agree about those spiral nails, Jerry!

CSlabon – Don’t be a downer ;)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View bvdon's profile


503 posts in 4477 days

#15 posted 02-12-2011 08:19 PM

I love free pallets… have a few items I’ve made from the reclaimed wood.

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