DIY Cutting Board

How to make a sweet two-toned  cutting board.

I recently realized I needed a new cutting board.  So  I decided to make one myself as a great weekend project.  I wanted to make something a little bit different than most cutting boards so I decided to put some veneer inserts into the board.  This cutting board is so cool that you’ll want to cut everything in your kitchen on it.

Here's the end result
A look at the completed piece.

Here’s a look into the process I used to create this beautiful board:

Step 1:  Pick up some supplies from your favorite hardware store.

Here are the materials that go into the board:

Red oak  1.5 x 0.5″ (2), 2.5 x 0.5″ (1)

Poplar 1.5 x 0.5″ (2)

Wood glue

Mineral oil

And the tools I used to make it happen:

Table saw

Jig saw

Belt sander

150 and 220 grit sand paper

Clamps

Any hardwood that you have on hand will work.  I found almost no selection of hardwood at Lowes which is how I ended up using poplar.  Poplar is a little soft so use something a little harder if you have any available alternatives.

  1. The first step is to cut the boards down to working size.  I cut mine to 12 inches long each.  Glue the boards together in whatever pattern you chose, alternating lights and darks has a nice aesthetic.  After the glue is applied clamp all the boards together so that they seal well and you end up with a strong bond.
    Here's the wood straight from the store
    These are the boards I am using, as they look straight from the store.
    Clamping the boards together after applying glue

    3.  While the glue is drying you can make inlay strips.  I set a stop on the table saw and ran some scrap boards through to make strips as the saw can cut.  It would be easier to buy veneer at a lumber store but there aren’t any locations that sell veneer near me.  Also, this is a great way to save some money as veneer can be pricey. The strips cut on the table saw had a thickness of about 1/8 inch.  These are somewhat thick for an inlay, but they should work fine.  If you have a band saw available, it can cut thinner strips that may be easier to use.

     

    Cutting an inlay strip
    Cutting an inlay strip

     

    Finished inlay cut with the table saw
    Finished inlay cut with the table saw

    4.  After the glue has dried on the cutting board, remove the clamps.  Now use the veneer you just cut to trace out a curve you would like to insert the inlay in.  It’s really important that the veneer strip is flexible enough to conform to the bends you trace.  So take care when drawing any compound curves.DSC_0673

    5.  Now that the curves are traced, it’s time to cut the board.  It’s preferable to use a band saw, but once again I don’t have one so I decided to make it work with the jig saw.  Cut the board in half following the first curve that you drew.

    Cutting board cut in half and ready for the insert
    Cutting board cut in half and ready for the insert

     

      6.  Next apply glue to both sides of the veneer strip and along both curved edges on the board.  Go ahead and put the veneer in between the two pieces and clamp everything back together.   There was a slight gap in mine because the first curve was a little bit too steep.  So I ended up cutting off that end of the board and not using it.DSC_06837.  After waiting for the glue to dry, cut the board in two pieces along the other curve that you drew.  Now repeat the process to insert the veneer and glue the board back together. I only did two veneer inserts but there is lots of room for creativity here.  You can repeat this process as many times as you like.  Using different types of veneer in the same insert or separate inserts can also make some cool looking boards. DSC_0692

     

    The clamping can be tricky

    8.  Finally done with the glue!  Take your board out of the clamps so you can begin finishing it.  I trimmed off the ends with the table saw so that I would have an even cut on both ends.


    Cut the ends to make a good starting level.
    Cut the ends to make a good starting level.


    9.  Time to sand.  Use the belt sander to go over both sides to ensure that the inserts are flush with the board.  Like many woodworking projects, the more effort you put into sanding the more refined the final product will be.  I started sanding with 150 grit and switched to a 220 grit paper to give it a finer finish.

    DSC_0701

    10.  Wipe off all the dust with a damp cloth to make sure the surface is clean.  I then used mineral oil to finish the board and give it a solid protective layer.  Mineral oil is food safe and keeps the board looking beautiful.  I put three coats on each side.  The oil will have to be reapplied from time to time.

    DSC_0708

     

    First coat and you can already see the difference
    First coat and you can already see the difference

    11.  Start chopping!

DSC_0719

This process could be made much easier if you have a bandsaw and a local hardware store that has a big selection of veneers.  But as you can see, even without those options you can still make a pretty cool looking cutting board.  Good luck and be creative!

Edge view of the inserts
Edge view of the inserts

Let us know what you think

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