End-grain Cutting Board

This project was inspired by this cutting board. The goal was to make a nice big end-grain cutting board and use this project to become familiar with some new woodworking techniques. Overall I’m very happy with how it turned out, the butchers block oil provided a really nice finish. Below are some pictures /explanation of the creation process.

Scratch notes to figure out how much stock to buy. I knew the rough dimensions/thickness of the board I wanted to make, but needed an exact board-feet number to buy. The final board ended up being slightly different dimensions since due to sanding/plaining/sawing losses.

Here’s the rough plan. The original piece of hard maple needed to be cut in half, then into ~ 1.75″ x 1.75″ square strips. I’ll try to reference these steps below 

Cutting down the original 1.75″ x 7″ x 42″ board into two 21″ sections. (Pre step 1 above)
The original board was then cut into approx 1.75″ square sections. I laid those out and rotated every other one so there was some variety in the grain. This is the first look at what the final board might look like, but that’s a long way away.

This planer got a lot of use throughout the first half of this project. The ~1.75″ square pieces needed to be flat so they could glue up evenly. (Step 1 above)

Here’s gluing up the two sets of four strips. I had to split it into two because if I had glued them all together they wouldn’t have been able to fit through Adam’s 12″ planer. (Step 2 above)

The result of the first glue up. We used the top of the table saw as a flat surface to glue on, but somehow despite the wax paper we put underneath, the glue leeched this odd green color out of the table saw, staining the wood. 

Close up on the staining. Super weird that it happened, but lessoned learned. The staining ended up not being too deep and I was able to plane/sand away most of it. 

We planed the two sets of four to the same level to prepare them to be glued together. This was harder then we thought because the boards were a little warped and needed to be shimmed to plane true. It would have been nice to have a jointer for this. (Step 3 above)

I don’t have any pictures of the second glue up, but here’s sanding the full 8 strips glued up together. (Step 5 above)

This was a pretty terrifying step. I decided to cut the board in half so I could pass it through the planer again before cutting the strips (step 6) that would eventually dictate the height of the board. I don’t remember exactly how I decided where to cut it, but I ended up regretting cutting it where I did (see  below).

This is what it looks like when you take too deep a pass on the planer. Oops!

I spent a bunch of time trying to reason out where I should cut the slices. These cuts determine the height of the board. I wanted to make the board as thick as I could while still making it a good size.

Lots of trial and error and measuring and calculating went into figuring out the optimal number of slices for the two different pieces. I settled on a number surprisingly close to my original plan of 1.5″.

This was the (slightly janky) method of cutting the strips. I used some 2×4 scrap clamped to the sled (lower left) in an attempt to get consistent height on the strips. (Step 6 above)

Getting close! Here’s all the strips laid out. I made the mistake of leaving these in the garage during a rainstorm and they got really bowed. Nothing a few days near the radiator couldn’t remedy.

The final glue up! This was another scary step, but we were able to get things lined up pretty well. (Step 7 above)

Post glue up, starting to sand…

Sooo much sanding. I actually ended up sanding for so long that I burned out this belt sander and needed to buy a new one. (Step 8 above)

I used a co-worker’s shaper origin to add some routed features in the board such as some handles & a juice groove. The Shaper is basically a handheld CNC router, it’s super cool.

The view on the shaper’s screen routing out the handle.

Routing the juice groove. The domino tape is what the shaper uses to locate itself.

Final finishing with butchers block oil. Debated on a number of methods to finish it, but the butchers block oil seemed like the most tried and true method, and provided a really nice looking finish. (Step 9 above)

Another shot of the finished product. Thanks for reading!