Cutting Board #03

(How to make your own using "Red's Cutting Board Construction Method")



January, 2006

Current Owner

Valerie & Thomas

Current Location

Los Angeles, CA


Australian bloodwood (red), zirocote (black), purpleheart, paduk (orange), walnut (brown), polyurethane glue, acrylic


food-safe cutting board (butcher block) oil (mineral oil)


Cutting Board #3 was made of scrap off-cuts and shorts. In this case, it was choice pickings of australian bloodwood (see Gamemaster), zirocote (see The Wedding Board), purpleheart (undocumented sword project), paduk (various cribbage boards) and black walnut shorts.

Cutting Board #3 was a wedding present to Valerie & Thomas (and only a scant 6 months late) and is intended to last daily use. Cutting Board #3 is also my largest cutting board to date at 11" x 15". This truly pushed the limits of my bandsaw, stalling out the 3/4HP motor several times in the process.

The amount of sawdust and smoke created was epic (I don't have a filtration system....yet). And owing to the success of Cutting Board #02, I used the (soon to be famous with your help of course) "Red's Cutting Board Construction Method".

So, as a public (or web-public, or "webublic") service I will now teach you how to apply the (soon to be famous with your help) construction method used for Cutting Board #03.

Red's Cutting Board Construction Method in 10 easy steps


Pick good wood. Don't waste your time (which is what you will be doing) with soft wussy-wood. Pine is a no-no. Oak is iffy. Balsa isn't even worthy of being called wood. We're looking for a nice tight grain. In a knife across it. Soak it in water. Does it splinter or fade? If so...bad choice.


Pair up hunks of wood and temporarily glue them together (I like spray mount 77, or whatever that sticky spray happens to be). The spray mount has a lousy sheer strength so can be un-mounted after the next step). In the example to the right we have some paduk on top of a piece of bloodwood. For Cuttting Board #3 the target was 11" x 15", so I had 2 1/2 pairings, each >16" in length and 3" wide. Don't worry, the math works out.

Now, you don't have to do pairings...but this is the most straightforward way to accomplish the totem-like look without a lot of fuss and wasted wood.


Once the spray mount is firm enough not to budge (this may take overnight), buzz it through your cutting tool of choice (bandsaw for me). Depending on the pieces, you can either get away with one cut (central) or three (central + 2 outside edges).

Slowly pry the pieces apart. Constant gental force seems to work best (see, I told you spray mount was a good choice for that last step). When pried apart and interleaved your 3" wide pair is now four pieces totalling 6" wide and should fit together perfectly. This tight fit makes the lamination much easier.

Don't bother cleaning off the spray mount....things are about to get much more messy.


Decide on how you want to lay out your wood. If you stack your deck right, people will have a hard(er) time seeing the pairings. I recommend making sure the edges are fairly solid (and >1" if possible).

Following the guidelines of your favorite glue-stuff (I just love polyurethane's waterproof holds like a demon and hasn't caused me grow a third nipple yet!) and start laminating the sheet of cuttings together.

Hints: (1) wear gloves when working with polyurethane glue, 'cause it will stain your hands a nasty brown that won't come off. (2) I work on parchment/wax paper for this step....easier cleanup in next steps and won't absorb water or adhere to the benchtop. (3) clamp slowly and ratchet the pressure slowly, otherwise the piece will bow on you.

(sorry, no photos of this step)


After step #3 cures, remove the clamps...check the integrity of your work and then pull off some of the excess wax paper. Time for the real work.

Take this puppy to your favorite wood-dicing device. In my case it's a 14" Jet Bandsaw (closed base, 3/4HP) with the additional 6 " riser kit, the resaw fence and a 1" blade. I recommend using caution in order to keep your fingers attached to your body.

Be sure your rig is true (squared, straight, taught) and go to town. Plane off the outside extra glue swells and uneven-nature of the laminated board. When you're happy with your squared and paralleled board, split the puppy down the middle.

On my bandsaw, this last operation (splitting an 11" tall x 15" long piece of dense hardwood) takes approximately 30 minutes of straight cutting. The resulting atmosphere in my garage is thick with smoke and lung-clogging dust. I typically don't breath too well the next day (even using a respirator while cutting....nothings 100%). You've been warned.

(sorry, no photos of this step)


Find yourself a good backbone. I typically favor 1/4" acrylic. This is what will prevent the cutting board from "fraying" or splitting at the ends.

If you are using acrylic, it is a great idea to score the nether regions out of the thing (helps give the glue something to grab on to). I typically go to town with a box cutter in a criss cross pattern about 1" apart.

Now it's time to laminate your three pieces together (the 2 wood pieces and the acrylic backbone). If your bandsaw is like mine (marginal for this heavy-duty work) your cut may not have been perfect. That's okay, if you compress everything together using a serious clamp piece (in my case, 1/4" aluminum on BOTH sides, some stiff wood and with a protective layer of wax paper) then things will come out flat and true. works.


Go away for a day or two and let the glue do its thing.

Come back and unclamp everything and you are met with a beautiful's almost done (except for step #8).


Trim off the edges/ends to get your board to the final shape you want it (heck, make it a doughnut for all I care...whatever floats your boat). I find rectangular cutting boards to be perfectly functional.


Sand. Sand some more. Sand some more. This step gets it's own line-item because I hate it so much and it takes so much time. Sand until you are sick of sanding and then go another grit or two further. Done sanding? Flame polish the acrylic (if you don't know what that means, don't bother).

(who needs a photo of me sanding some wood anyway!)


Soak your board in cutting board oil (once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month forever). Well, not really immersion soak...but apply a liberal coat and reapply when the wood has sucked it all up. I typically allow the wood to soak up coat after coat of oil for a solid week before I even think about using (or gifting) it. Check out that reflective sheen on the right!


Enjoy your cutting board!

Take lots of photos....enjoy the glow of the wood, the sheen of the finely sanded surface.

Use your cutting board!

Seriously....that's what's so cool about the sandwich lasts and lasts and lasts. Properly cared for, you should get a decade easily.

Take care of your cutting board!

Dishwashers and soaks in water are evil and will kill your hard work. Soap and water and a light scrubbing immediately followed by an on-end air-dry is all that it takes. Keep it oiled and it will make it a pleasure to chop whatever it is that needs chopping.