Even though this wasn’t my first real project, it almost felt like it. This was my first cutting board, my first glue up, my first that I needed to sand like crazy and the first I needed to oil. I was excited for the task and ready for the challenges (which were plenty).
What I started with
I started with a clean, fresh plank of curly maple. As you can see, it was 2.64 square feet of 3/4”. I spent the $47 and used 2/3 of the board, more on that later.
I picked maple because of the look, the hardness, and the price. I was looking at some other more exotic woods, but landed on curly maple. Look at this grain! I loved the tiger like cross grain!
Ripping the board
I knew I wanted the cutting board to be an edge grain and about 1” thick. I needed to rip the board into 1” pieces, but without a table saw, this was going to be a challenge. I settled on using my circular saw with the Kreg Rip Cut but that didn’t last long... my Dewalt 20v circular saw doesn’t fit well into the Rip Cut.
I absolutely love my Dewalt circular saw and have had great luck with it. I’ve also had great luck ripping 4’x8’ sheets of plywood with the Rip Cut, but when it came to a precision cut, it wasn’t going to work. And due to the narrow board, I couldn’t clamp on a saw guide either. This led me to drawing a line and free handing the circular saw. I know, I know, but remember, I’m new at this and I had to make due. Any and all suggestions necessary! Leave comments, please!
Cutting to length
This was pretty simple. I have a Dewalt mitre saw, and it made quick work of the cross cuts. I cut everything at 13”, leaving just a small piece left over of each ripped piece.
Assembling for glue up
I was really excited for this step, having never done it before. I used Tite Bond II after reading a couple blogs and recommendations.
I had bought some Irwin 24” clamps from Lowes prior to the build. Looking back, I should have just invested in some good parallel clamps or made some bar clamps up, but... again, work with what you have. I flipped the pieces to their edges, smeared some glue on and applied the clamps. It was at this point I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me with the sander.
Making it flat
As you can see, the rip cuts weren’t exact. There was a fair amount of ups and downs, and my Ridgid belt sander was the life saver!
I realized quickly that the Gator 80 grit wasn’t going to do it, so after a recommendation from Rob at Ginger Woodworks, I ran out and bought some 40 grit.
The 40 grit, some time and elbow grease did the trick. I was able to work the material down enough to call it flat. There were a couple little areas if I looked really closely, but finishing sanding was going to take care of that.
I threw some Gator 120, then 220, and finally 320 with my Dewalt sheet sander. After the 220 it felt like glass, but the 320 really made it feel perfect!
Lastly, without a router, I used my Dewalt sander and knocked a little edge into the board. As I finished sanding, the character really started to pop, but nothing prepared me for when I added the oil!
Adding the oil
This is the step I most looked forward to! I picked up some Howard Products Cutting Board Oil after seeing a bunch of it being used on IG and FB.
I set the camera up and had a little fun filming the application! Check out the video below!
I added 3 or 4 coats of the oil, then added a couple coats of the Howard’s Butcher Block conditioner as well. After a quick buff, it was all set to get!
I was super happy the way it turned out! The grain patterns really stood out with the edge grain. The board is pretty flat, with some small areas that I may only notice. The color and feel are spot on!
What I learned
I learned the benefit of having a table saw and planer. With one, or both, the sanding and flattening process would have been MUCH easier. With a good set of parallel clamps, my glue up would have been easier and I could have gotten the boards in a better spot.
The board and wood species was a good choice. The glue and tools I used worked really well. The Howard’s Oil and Conditioner also worked really well. I’m exited to try another one with some better tools and a different species of wood!
Remember, any comments or recommendations would be appreciated and welcomed!
Onto the next project!