Stuff I’ve built: Purpleheart and Maple Cutting Board

February 2010

There’s nothing quite as simple – yet complicated – as an end-grain cutting board.

Sure, it’s just a flat, thick piece of wood you cut food on.  However, if you want it to be really durable, you want it oriented so that you are cutting on the end grain.  That’s the tough stuff..

Fortunately, there are many good plans for end-grain cutting boards out there.  Wood Magazine has a good one, as does the Wood Whisperer. Each of these plans offers step-by-step instructions on how to build them.

The wood for the board came from Bell Forest Products, and included a sweet piece of maple and another of purple heart.

I started by jointing and planing the boards flat and true, then ripping them into strips.  I glued the blank together with alternating strips.

Once dry, I took the boards out of the clamps and planed the assembly dead flat. Then, I crosscut the panel into 1.5″ thick strips, rotated them end for end and then stood them up with the end grain facing upward.  I shifted the pieces into a pleasing pattern and glued them into place.

While my glue up was pretty good, I still had to use a belt sander to get everything into perfect shape on the top.  First, 50 grit was used to get the pieces flush, then 80 and 120 to smooth things out.  Then, I hit it with my random orbit sander with 120 grit and 150 grit.  Since the top was going to see some abuse from knives, I didn’t want to make it too smooth.

I finished it with polyurethane thinned about 50% with mineral spirits, allowing the finish to soak all the way through the board and then wiped off the excess, as per Marc Spagnuolo’s instructions.  That seemed to do the trick.

Now, here comes the hard part.  I had originally built two boards, but I won’t be seeing them in my house.  I already gave one to a really nice couple who has us over their home  for gourmet dinners and really fine wine.  The other one?  Well, when my mom saw it, it became hers.

Oh, well… At least when I go to these homes, I’ll know the meals I’m eating were prepared on them!

6 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve built: Purpleheart and Maple Cutting Board”

  1. Tom – awesome. I’ve been reading/thinking a lot about cutting boards and may order the pack from Bellforest also to make a “simple” board first. An article in Fine Woodworking awhile ago caught my eye – making end grain table tops – looks really awesome. May try to do that for the kitchen island I’ll be building soon.

  2. Nice board, Tom.
    A cutting board will probably be one of the first actual projects I do once I get my shop set up – in about 15 years or so (the kids will be in college by then, so I may actually have time).

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