How to Make a Beautiful Cutting Board

This large dual-sided cutting board is beautiful and easy to make. Even a beginning wood worker can produce a cutting board that makes an expensive looking gift. Some people believe that plastic cutting boards are more sanitary than wooden ones. Not so. In light of new research from the University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute and other credible institutions, health officials have changed their recommendations regarding plastic over wood. The truth is properly maintained, close grained wood cutting boards retain less bacteria than plastic, while the plastic itself may be a health risk.

Materials:

� A water resistant wood glue like Titebond 2

� Olive oil or mineral oil

� A piece of black cherry measuring approximately 5 inches wide by 2 inches thick by 14 inches long

� A piece of hard maple measuring approximately 5 inches wide by 2 inches thick by 51 inches long.

You may be able to use other dimensions for your stock wood, as these are just suggestions that will work. You may also want to change the types of wood used, or the dimensions of the finished project. Just read through these instructions, understand them thoroughly, and you will be able to adapt them to exactly what you want. If you decide to change the type of wood be sure to use hard wood, not soft wood, and preferably a close grained variety. Also, make sure there are no toxic qualities to the wood as some types of hard wood, like butternut, are actually hazardous.

Safety equipment:

� Gloves

� Safety glasses

� Ear protection

� A dust mask and push sticks for the table saw.

Statistically, amateur carpenters have more accidents and suffer more long term health risks than professionals because experienced carpenters learn the value of protecting themselves.

Tools:

� A chop saw or circular saw with guide

� A table saw with securely locking fence

� A belt sander with 60, 80 and 120 grit paper

� A random orbit sander with 60, 80, and 120 grit paper (or a willingness to do a lot of hand sanding)

� A hand held or (better yet a table) router with a 1/2 inch round over bit

� At least 10 (the more the better) 2 foot long, or longer, bar clamps

� At least 6 (again, the more the merrier) 3 foot, or longer, bar clamps

� An accurate tape measure

� A pencil

� Some rags

� Something for spreading glue (yes, your finger counts).

A jointer is useful but not always necessary.

1. Using a chop saw or circular saw cut the stock hard maple to 17 inches (1 inch longer than you will trim it to).

2. Cut your stock black cherry to 12 and 1/4 inches.

3. If you have access to a jointer, plane one edge of each of your trimmed stock boards perfectly flat. This planed edge should make a 90 degree angle with the wider part of the board. One way to skip this step is to buy hardwood with a pre-finished edge, but double check it.

4. Set the fence of your table saw to the desired width. 2 1/16 inches will work well.

5. Place the edge you jointed against the fence of your table saw. If your jointed edge isn’t perfectly planed, then the cut your table saw makes probably won’t be either. Rip 6 lengths of maple at this width and 2 lengths of cherry, always keeping the wood tight against the fence. Use push sticks to keep the wood against the fence and to push it past the blade. Never let your hands come close to, and never lean over, the spinning blade. It is very important that the edges of all your lengths are as flat as possible. If you need to, you can take them back to the jointer or run them through the table saw again, but if you remove to much material you will need to add another length to maintain the desired width of the finished product. Make sure they stay the same width along the entire length. DO NOT try to sand or hand plane the edges flat.

6. Space 8 bar clamps evenly on a flat surface facing up. Open them wide enough to provide more than ample room to fit all 6 pieces of maple inside. Set them across the bars so that the smooth edges you cut face each other.

7. Look closely at the very ends of each of your pieces of maple. You will see that the end grain curves in something of a U shape. Do your best to arrange and orient them so that the U shape alternates always keeping the smooth edges facing each other. When looking at the ends the U shape should alternate between right side up and upside down. Feel free to trace the grain of each piece with your pencil as this will help to make the correct arrangement more obvious. Paying attention to this step will help to prevent your cutting board from warping in the future.

8. Once you have arranged your pieces, number the ends so that you will know which sides go down and in what order they go after you move them. You will need to move them when applying the glue.

9. Spread a thin layer of glue on all the surfaces that face each other. A very thin (less than 1/8 inch thick) scrap of wood works very well for this. You don’t need very much, but you do need to make sure the entire surface is coated.

10. If you work fast, you will want to wait a minute or two to let the glue get ever so slightly tacky before tightening the clamps. You can clamp right away, but you may find that the pieces slip out of alignment when tightening if the glue isn’t aloud to breath for a moment. If you are unsure as to when the glue is ready, err on the side of clamping before the glue gets tacky (it doesn’t take long to breath and chances are the first piece is ready by the time you’ve spread the glue evenly on the last piece).

11. Tighten the clamps loosely at first and then, starting in the middle and moving outwards in both directions, begin tightening the clamps a half turn at a time. Repeat this until you can no longer turn the clamps. A small amount of glue should have squeezed out along the entire length of each piece on both sides of the cutting board. Wipe this off immediately with a damp rag. Now look for small gaps in between the glued surfaces. If you find any, apply another clamp from the topside and tighten until the gap closes.

12. Allow the glue to dry at room temperature for three to six hours and then remove the clamps. It takes wood glue around 24 hours to completely cure, but it isn’t advisable to keep pressure from the clamps on for that long (but if you want to leave them you can). The important thing is to keep it at room temperature until the glue has fully cured.

13. After the glue has cured trim the ragged ends of the board at 90 degrees to 16 inches using the chop saw (or circular saw with a firmly clamped guide).

14. Spread glue on the freshly cut ends and on one smooth surface of each piece of cherry. Using the same techniques you learned while gluing the maple, glue the cherry pieces to either end – except that this time you want to protect the surface of the cherry against the clamps with a long thin piece of scrap wood on either end. Make sure there is about 1/8 of cherry sticky out past the maple on both edges.

15. After the glue has cured, trim your cutting board along the length to 12 inches thick. The cherry should be perfectly flush with the maple now.

16. Place the board on a flat surface. Using a straight edge, draw a line just below the edge of the board. Go all the way around until you match back up to where you started. Flip the board over and do the same, ensuring you maintain the same distance between the lines all the way around.

17. Using a belt sander with 60 grit sandpaper, smooth out all discrepancies between the surfaces of the glued lengths of wood. Keep the sander flat and maintain even pressure at all times. Do this for both sides. Pay attention to how close you are to the line you drew along the edge (make it even all the way around). Repeat this with 80 grit paper and then 120 grit. You can go finer if you want to, but it’s a cutting board and will quickly get scratched upon first use. Make sure you’ve maintained a very flat surface and an even thickness all the way around. Use a random orbit sander to sand of the scuff marks on the cherry.

18. Using a 1/2 inch round over bit, router the edges of both sides. Go slow and make sure your hand is very steady (one off balance mistake can mar the edge irreparably!). You may want to practice on some suitable scrap wood.

19. Rub olive oil or mineral oil (DO NOT use peanut oil as some people are highly allergic to it) into all surfaces thoroughly. This helps to seal your cutting board from stains and bacteria.

You are now ready to use both sides of your beautiful new cutting board! One side for veggies and cheese and the other side for meat. Enjoy!

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