Finally Completed: My First Cutting Booooarrrddddd!

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Project by Jonathan posted 06-03-2010 05:31 PM 3743 views 5 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wow, my first end grain cutting board (and first cutting board overall,) was much more of an endeavor than I thought it was going to be!

I knew there were going to be several glue-ups, but there were several more than that, as I had to remove wind checks from the maple, and also rebalance the size of the columns after cutting things down.

Tons of sanding too, as the board bowed a bit, so I tried to correct it. Tons translated to maybe 4-5-hours (or maybe more?) of sanding with a belt sander and ROS, plus the usual handsanding afterwards.

I won’t go into much details on some of the issues I faced with my first end grain cutting board, but if you want to read about the issues, you can check that out here:

Thank you to those of you that helped me out and offered advice along the way!

This project was frustrating at times, but has not detered me from wanting to make more of these. I certainly learned several things along the way, so hopefully the future boards will go together more quickly and without issue. I already have a request for one as a Christmas present this year, and she didn’t even see the finished board before asking for one of her own.

I had intended on making this board a touch larger than it is, but after having to cut it down several different times, I lost about 1.5-inches from the length of it. I didn’t have to make all of the cuts I did to remove problem areas, but then the board would’ve been unbalanced.

The details and dimensions are:

Wood Species: 4/4 Walnut and 5/4 Hard Maple

Constructions Methods/Techniques: Boards crosscut and ripped on tablesaw, followed by lots of glueing, clamping, swearing… cutting, glueing, clamping, swearing… repeat.

Length: 14-15/16”
Width: 12-5/16”
Thickness: 1-1/2” (varies slightly on different areas of the board by less than 1/16”)

Weight: 7.0-pounds

Glue used: Titebond III, spread with a brayer (aka- ink roller), which I highly recommend using!

Rubber Feet: from Rockler @ $3.39
pre-drilled holes to 5/8” deep on drill press with 1/8” bit, holes drilled 1-1/8” in from sides. I did have to use a couple of washers to level the board out on one corner, as it rocked slightly from the bowing issue, but is now shimmed up perfectly and doesn’t move at all. I added these feet so the board wouldn’t slide around on the counter, plus it allows for air circulation without having to stand the board on end once it is washed. The feet also allow your hands to slip underneath the board to pick it up or move it, without the need for handles.

Finish/Finish Techniques Used: General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish, thinned 50-60% with mineral spirits, 3-4 coats, with a 400-grit sanding before the final coat. I did not allow the finish to sit on the top of the board for more than maybe 30-seconds as I didn’t want to build a film. Once I had a nice layer on there, I let it sit for a few seconds, then wiped it off with a clean paper towel. I also freehanded the top with a 1/4” roundover bit, then hand sanded all other edges just to soften them.

Pictures: The first and last pictures show the two knives that will primarily be used on this board, both pictures using the flash. The second pictures shows the grain of the wood a bit, plus the roundover on the top. The third picture shows the washers I had to use in order to shim the board at one corner (the upper right corner). The fourth picture shows the underside of the board with the rubber feet. The fifth picture shows the overall board design without the flash turned on.

Things I learned during this project: Make sure to use more glue than you think you’ll need… squeeze-out is a good thing! Really check your stock over before glue-up. Look for wind checks, or stress cracks in the wood and any other imperfections! If you find any, start over or select different stock… or be hard-headed like me and plow through it anyway, even though it will take two or three times as long! Get everything as level and even as you can on every glue-up as end-grain is a (insert expletive) to sand! A belt sander is the minimum you’ll need to get the job done, although I’d imagine a drum sander would be the best tool for the job by far. You could also use a planer or thickness planer, but should probably glue a sacrificial piece on the end, or roundover that edge slightly before feeding it through the planer. I’ve heard scrapers are great for end grain boards as well, although I’ve never used a scraper and do not yet have one. A drum sander is a bit higher on my tool list than it used to be, I can tell you that much! Before this project I hadn’t used salad bowl finish before. We’ll see how this goes, as this board is staying at our house. In the future, I am also planning on finishing boards with mineral oil and beeswax, but I wanted to at least give the salad bowl finish a shot. Just don’t let it pool on the surface because you don’t want to build a film. And make sure to thin the salad bowl finish with plenty of mineral spirits. I think the next time I use the salad bowl finish, I will thin the first coat to closer to 70% for deeper penetration, as I never did get it to go all the way through the board, so I flipped it over the next day and soaked the bottom in the same fashion.
(Edit): I also forgot to mention that the pattern here ended up being a result of having to recut and reglue the boards. I played around with it a bit and decided this was much more interesting than the original design, so that was one good thing that came out of this, as well as the other “learning experiences”.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

21 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5034 days

#1 posted 06-03-2010 05:34 PM

Wow what a wonderful first or any number cutting board. Beautiful


View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 4812 days

#2 posted 06-03-2010 05:45 PM

Great job! Thanks for the link to the rubber feet, I didn’t realize Rockler carried them and I might need a set for a board I just made myself. As for all the sanding, I think you’ll find your future boards will go a lot quicker if you try to get the board as flat as possible during each glue up. That means using cauls! :-) Others coat theirs in bees wax or use wax paper, I have a bunch made up wrapped in plastic mailing tape. I find this is easier and allows me to clean up more of the squeeze during the glue up and makes sanding goes quicker in the end.

View gul's profile


400 posts in 4420 days

#3 posted 06-03-2010 05:48 PM

It’s beautiful!

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4508 days

#4 posted 06-03-2010 05:57 PM


I did use cauls on all but one of the glue-ups. The trouble was the bowing. I was actually trying to remove the bow in the board! There were a few elevation gaps as well, and I think I’ll have to use heavier/more cauls next time.

I was not able to locate rubber feet at the orange or blue box store, so went to our local Rockler and picked them up. I forgot to check our Ace Hardware store when I was there yesterday buying the washers for the one corner.

I used the blue painter’s tape on the cauls and that seemed to work well, although I’ll probably also try plastic wrap or wax paper in the future.

I have already begun thinking about my next board… what species to use, what size to make it, etc. It’s going to have to wait though, as I have several other things I either need to finish building, or start on before the next board.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4494 days

#5 posted 06-03-2010 06:04 PM

Great job.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Houtje's profile


311 posts in 4429 days

#6 posted 06-03-2010 06:17 PM

That’s a beautifull cutting board.

View blackcherry's profile


3351 posts in 5280 days

#7 posted 06-03-2010 06:23 PM

Nice go around on your first attempt. It has a nice design pattern and very stout should last a lifetime. Thanks for showing and enjoy chopping….Blkcherry

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4409 days

#8 posted 06-03-2010 07:39 PM

Looks excellent! Very inspiring.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4508 days

#9 posted 06-04-2010 01:18 AM

I couldn’t find them at our Home Depot or Lowe’s, or I would’ve picked them up there. I did have a 15% off coupon though, so that brought it down to less than $3.00.

David, thank you for all of your helpful suggestions in completing this board!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Chuck's profile


1 post in 4375 days

#10 posted 06-04-2010 02:01 AM

The bowing is from an out of tune table saw…..board looks great….Chuck

View John Fleming's profile

John Fleming

29 posts in 4588 days

#11 posted 06-04-2010 06:52 AM

great job I love the contrast in woods and the design

-- Woodworker in Progress, Oceanside CA

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4473 days

#12 posted 06-04-2010 12:14 PM

first? no way…too gosh darn nice. congrats!

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 4624 days

#13 posted 06-04-2010 01:14 PM

Looks great!
Thanks for sharing

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4508 days

#14 posted 06-04-2010 04:44 PM

Thanks for all the encouraging comments everybody, they’re appreciated.

It was a relief when I finally had this done and sitting on the kitchen counter.

The next one I make will be a little smaller than this, as per my mother-in-law’s request, probably 12”x12” and maybe 1.25” thick to cut down on the weight a bit. Not sure what wood I’m going to use yet, but it’s for Christmas, so I have plenty of time to figure it out.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 4484 days

#15 posted 06-04-2010 11:46 PM

beefy looking board with a creative pattern. keep up the creativity, i like the break from tradition.

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

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

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