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Cutting boards with minimal tools is a tutorial that will give you lots of advice tips & tricks to get you started making cutting boards with minimal tools! Every woodworker gets asked at some point to make a cutting board as a gift to someone special in their lives. Maybe its your sweet grandma or your wife or next door neighbor. But the beginner woodworker might feel like they don"t have the tools to successfully make a

cutting board. Maybe you don"t have a jointer, a planer, a big ole cabinet saw, etc.

This tutorial"s aim is to show you that you absolutely can! I"ll walk you step by step through the process.

You are watching: How to make a cutting board without a planer

I"ll only be using these tools: table saw, a random orbit sander, a trim router with chamfer bit (or a hand plane) and some clamps!

For more advanced cutting board tutorials and related content, please check out these resources:

5 Pro Tips for Making Cutting Boards

How to Make an End Grain Butcher Block

Making a US Flag Cutting Board with CNC Inlay

How to Make a Cutting Board Wax Finish

How to Make a Cross Cut Sled for Your Table Saw

The Ultimate Table Saw Fence

If you like this instructional content you can also find me at:

My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://mwawoodworks.com

My YouTube (all my build videos): https://youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks

My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff): https://instagram.com/mwawoodworks

My Pinterest (things I find inspirational) : https://pinterest.com/mwawoodworks


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Supplies


Materials & Supplies*Tools*
Titebond 3 wood glue (there are others but this is what I use)Parallel Clamps
Condiment Bottles (finer tips, cheap and see through)Scraper
Gorilla Grip Shelf Liner (seriously, a good thing to have around)DeWalt Trim Router
Cedar Pencils (actual good pencils)Freud Chamfer Bit
Mirka Sand PaperFreud Heavy Duty Rip Blade
Bosch Random Orbit Sander

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Step 1: Material Selection


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Alright so I’m going to be using hardwoods for these cutting boards. I’ve got some walnut, some maple and some cherry all leftovers from other projects about 2 feet long.

Definitely stick with hardwoods for this kind of project and stay away from stuff like pine, fir or cedar. Those woods are way too soft to stand up to knives and are full of resins. They aren"t dangerous or toxic, but they could make your food taste like a Christmas tree LOL

Classic cutting board wood species found in North America include:

Maple

Cherry

Walnut

Ash

White Oak (best when used on edge or as end grain)

Hickory

Besides those soft woods like Pine/Spruce/Fir/Cedar, also avoid these hardwoods because they aren"t really that hard at all:

Butternut

Basswood

Chestnut (if you can still find it)

Poplar

Alder

Genuine Mahogany (African Mahogany and Sapele are other "mahogany like" species that are just fine to use)

There are many many others but these are just a few. The goal is to choose something dense and durable. I"d personally stick with something north of 900 on the Janka hardness scale. If you"re not familiar with this hardness scale, here"s a link for more information https://www.bellforestproducts.com/info/janka-hardness/


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Step 2: Cutting Strips at the Table Saw


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I started by trimming off the rough edge of each board. This way I have two parallel edges for referencing and I know that each board is the same width the whole length of the board. That’s important for the next step in the process.

I want to cut some different sized strips from each board so I can mix and match them to create three different color combos. It’s safer to cut these strips on the opposite side of the blade from the fence and I like using this little trick for getting the same width strips repeatedly.

I just set one strip against the blade and then I adjust the fence until my board matches it. Easy peasy and I just repeat that process until I get a few strips from each board.

Next, I cutoff the top inch or so from each board. This will allow me to sandwich those strips in between.

*NOTE - You don"t need a fancy big cabinet table saw to do this work. Years ago when I started out in woodworking I made all my cutting boards using this jobsite saw: BOSCH JOBSITE TABLE SAW

The key is to always keep your saw in tune and the blade needs to be as square to the top as you can (if you don"t have access to a jointer).

Here"s a great tool to own for checking your blade for square: Wixey Digital Angle Gauge


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Step 3: Assembling Your Cutting Boards


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I have a few tips for the glue-ups, the first is use a water resistant wood glue when making cutting boards. There are a few, I recommend Titebond 3, I’ve been using it for years and its great.

Also, we want enough glue, but not too much because we really need visibility to those glue joints to make sure they are nice and even so I’d use a glue bottle that can give a nice fine bead of glue.

I love using condiment bottles just for this reason. You can use a brush or roller, but I’m just going to use the spreader I already have on my hand.

Once I got all my pieces glued up I began adding the clamps slowly. I’m trying to be as careful as I can here because things are going to want to slide around and up and down and I don’t want that. Because I’m using minimal tools I want to take this glue-up slowly and keep an eye on those strips to make sure they all stay flat.


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Step 5: More Tips for Gluing Up


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Another tip, you don’t need to crank down on the work piece here. We’re dealing with three small strips and they are pretty flexible so they shouldn’t need a lot of force to close the joints up. If you’re getting a nice line of squeeze out along each joint then you have enough clamping pressure. Cranking down too hard will not only starve the joints of glue and possibly lead to a failure down the road but it can also introduce tensions that will cause warping and you don’t want that.

One way to check your joints is to clean off the excess glue now. I find that a little water help this. Now you can see clearly if all your joints are tight and also in line with one another. You also don’t have a ton of glue to sand off later once its dried.

You don’t have to do this to the other side of the board. I have another trick you can use once the glue sits for about 30 minutes. Grab yourself a paint scraper and just run it along those joints and the glue will come off pretty cleanly. This is not nearly as messy as cleaning it while the glue is still wet.


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Step 6: Even MORE Tips for Gluing Up


The next day I pulled them out of the clamps and scraped off any remaining glue with the scraper.

Next I trimmed these board to final width using my cross cut sled. I started by trimming the ends and then I cut each board to 10 inches in length.

Another tip here is to always reference the same side of the board against the fence for every cut.

This will make sure each cut is square to that side of the board.

If you haven’t made a crosscut sled for your table saw yet you can also use your miter gauge to do this.


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Step 8: Sanding Your Cutting Boards


You can see here how grippy this shelf liner is. Since these boards aren’t very big they don’t have a lot of weight to keep them in place while I sand.

My first tip for sanding is to grab a pencil and mark up your boards. When you’ve sanded all the pencil marks off, this is a good indicator of when you can stop sanding and move on to the next grit.

And for these boards I’m going to start sanding at 80 grit, then go to 120, 180 and finally 220. Mark up your boards between each grit. How much sanding you do here depends on how well your glue-ups went.

If your boards were flat then you don’t have to worry about sanding down any high spots where a strip of wood went astray.

Now once I have everything sanded final grit, I need to take care of these edges and for that I’m going to use a chamfer bit in my trim router.

You can do chamfers or round-overs here. I always go with chamfers because I think its a more clean and modern look.

You can also do this job with a hand plane if you don’t have a router. It wouldn’t take that much longer and there’s less chance of tear-out in the grain that routers can sometimes give you.


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Step 9: Popping the Grain


The next thing I need to do is prep the boards for finish and I start by popping the grain with water. This causes all the little wood fibers I cut while sanding to stand up like the hairs on your arm when you’re cold.

This causes the board to feel rough or fuzzy and I also get that first glance of the grain color coming to life. I just spritz them with a spray bottle lightly. It doesn’t take that much water here.

Once they dry fully I knock the grain back down with my 220 grit sandpaper and the board instantly becomes smooth again. Doing this step prevents the board from getting that fuzzy feeling the first time you clean your board with water in the kitchen, a nice benefit!


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Step 10: Finishing Your Cutting Boards


OK the final step is to apply the finish and I like using a paste made from mineral oil and bees wax. I rub a liberal amount of the past on each board coating all sides. You may have seen other videos where people bathe their boards in a tub of mineral oil. Please don’t do that. Totally overkill.

Long grain boards don’t soak up that much oil like end grain butcher blocks do.

Just let that paste sit on the boards for several hours and the wood fibers will take all the oil in and leave the wax behind on the surface to harden. Then just buff them with a clean cotton rag until buttery smooth.

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Step 11: THANK YOU!


Thank you so much for following along! If you enjoyed this instructional content, please also check out the links below.

Fore more advanced cutting board tutorials and related content, please check out these resources:

5 Pro Tips for Making Cutting Boards

How to Make an End Grain Butcher Block

Making a US Flag Cutting Board with CNC Inlay

How to Make a Cutting Board Wax Finish

How to Make a Cross Cut Sled for Your Table Saw

The Ultimate Table Saw Fence

If you like this instructional content you can also find me at:

My Website (full tutorials, plans, videos): https://mwawoodworks.com

My YouTube (all my build videos): https://youtube.com/c/mwawoodworks

My Instagram (behind the scenes stuff): https://instagram.com/mwawoodworks

My Pinterest (things I find inspirational) : https://pinterest.com/mwawoodworks