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Build It | End-grain Cutting Board from Scrap Wood

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor create an end-grain cutting board from heart pine scrap wood

Steps:

  1. Choose scrap wood that’s at least 2x12. You may end up using 2 to 3 pieces of scrap wood.
  2. Use a surface planer to ensure all pieces are a consistent thickness. This is a loud machine, so wear hearing protection.
  3. Use the table saw to rip the board into 2” strips.
  4. Realign the boards back together for gluing. Before gluing, flip the boards to alternate the grain, avoiding warping.
  5. Flip the boards once and use wood glue such as Gorilla Wood Glue to make a line across each board.
  6. Use a paint brush to fully coat the board with the wood glue.
  7. Flip each board back and push the glued surfaces together. Clamp the boards together to allow the glue to set. Wipe down any excess glue on the surface. Let it dry for at least two hours.
  8. Unclamp the boards.
  9. Run the glued assembly through the surface planer again to make sure each board is even and flat. It may take several passes on each side.
  10. Put a stop on a miter saw 2” from the blade to ensure each cut is exactly the same.
  11. Square up the end of the assembly with a thin cut using a miter saw, then make the 2” cuts using the stop.
  12. Flip the boards so the end grain is visible.
  13. Realign the boards and mix up the end grain pieces so it’s not a uniform pattern. The joints should also be staggered.
  14. Flip each board on its side and put on another layer of wood glue. Once again, use a paint brush to even out the coat of glue.
  15. Flip each board back to ensure the end grain is on top.
  16. Clamp all of the boards together along with two scrap pieces of 2” x 4” on each end. These scrap pieces will prevent chipping on the surface planer later.
  17. Wipe away any excess glue. Let it dry for at least two hours.
  18. To square up one side, use a cutting track and a circular saw.
  19. With one side straight, true up the opposite side with a table saw.
  20. Run the board back through the surface planer, taking off just a small amount each time to flatten out the board. The 2” x 4” on the ends will prevent chip out.
  21. Using a miter saw to cut off the extra 2” x 4” attached to the edges.
  22. Using a router and a round-over bit, round off the four edges of the board.
  23. Using a router and a cove bit, add an edge detail around the entire top and bottom portion of the board.
  24. Sand all sides using a power sander until smooth.
  25. Use a food grade oil such as mineral oil to coat the board. It will take several coats of oil to fully penetrate the grain, and the oil should be reapplied occasionally as needed.