DIY Wood Cutting Boards

By Kate Riley September 14, 2011

For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to make some thick wood cutting boards for use around the kitchen and to give as gifts.  Cutting boards are just about the most useful tool in the kitchen, but store bought or hand crafted wood ones can get pricey quickly.  

I had this vision in my head of a thick slab of wood with a lot of character that could become a focal point on a table.  Over the weekend I created a few of my own wood cutting boards out of a slab found at a local salvage yard. 

Here’s a look at the trio of wood cutting boards I designed:

diy wood cutting boards cg

trio of wood cutting boards cg


This project began last week when I dropped in on my local salvage yard in search of the perfect piece of wood.  I talked to the people who ran the place and told them I was looking for a harder wood like maple or hickory, but wanted to avoid any grainy or porous woods like oak.

Ordinarily, I stay away from pine because of its knots, but as I browsed all the selections, I happened to fall in love with a piece of Norfolk Pine.  I learned this tree originates in Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean and was first brought to America by Captain Cook.  Apparently, it was planted all along the coastlines and near ports because of how straight it grew despite winds that contort or bend other trees.  Sailors would use it to replace their ship masts. 

norfolk pine at yard

This particular piece came from Hawaii and had a very cool pink vein down the middle.  It was also thicker than most of the other planks, so I brought it home as the perfect candidate to make my trio of cutting boards.  They wanted $5 bucks a foot which was more than I wanted to pay, but they gave me a deal at $30 for 8 feet so in the end I didn’t think it wasn’t too much to pay for a thick piece of untreated wood with a lot of character that would yield three separate cutting boards. 

I cut and traced a template and aligned it along my board to avoid the big knots and also so that the pink vein ran down the middle, then traced three separate patterns. 

draw template


My jigsaw blades were beyond dull, so I took a trip to my local True Value to grab some new ones. 

new blades from true value


If you’re tackling this project yourself, simply trace your pattern then cut your individual cutting boards out with a jig saw, pretty simple. 

jig saw cut


Sand the top and the edges smooth with an orbital sander, first with medium 80 grit then followed up by 220 extra fine grit.

sand cutting boards


Wipe down all boards to remove any remaining sawdust, then condition with food safe mineral oil to bring out the beauty of the wood.  Mineral oil is a digestive aid and can be found at most drugstores or pharmacies.  Many specialty food and kitchen stores also carry mineral oil for use on butcher block counter tops so look for it there too. 

food safe mineral oil on cutting board

add mineral oil


That’s really all you need to do to create your own custom cutting boards . . .

trio of cutting boards by cg


I’ve named them Papa Board, Mama Board, and Baby Board. 

cg trio of cutting boards


Naturally, Papa is the life of the party cause he can hold an entire baguette!

diy length of wood cutting board cg


Like with all cutting boards, knife marks will appear as you continue to use it, but I think that adds to the appeal. 

make your own cutting boards


Nothing’s better than a big ol’ slab of good looking wood for serving anything from simple cheese and bread to appetizers to desserts.  Good looking cutting boards always deliver a great presentation, and add a casual rustic touch to any table top.

trio of cutting boards cg


Clean your board with hot water and sanitize with white vinegar, then every few months condition your board with food safe mineral oil.  Your cutting board should continue to look great for years to come.  

Anyone else in the mood to craft some cutting boards?  All you need is a few tools and the right piece of wood !   


True Value Blog Squad legalese: “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”





  1. That’s such a great idea. It would make such an awesome gift. I think I could handle this project. You really did an outstanding job…especially on the curves.

  2. What a great gift idea…Chirstmas, bridal shower, wedding, etc. They look professionally done, Kate! My father-in-law makes the most beautiful hand carved wood bowls and spoons as a hobby. He hasn’t done it in awhile, but I remember him mentioning the food safe mineral oil.

  3. Love this! I used to cut out wood projects all the time but my saw is long gone. I always enjoyed working with wood….you have given me the bug back! I am sure I’ll be in the Home Depot looking at Skil saws now! Really great project. Thanks for this today!

  4. So pretty for serving! Yours are beautiful, and you make it seem so easy! I especially like how thick they are- so sturdy.

  5. OH my lawdy I am in love with these!! I am so going on a hunt for some wood and making my very own!
    I must add – you inspired me to make my own lined curtains. I used a beautiful floral fabric (outside my comfort zone) and lined with a black out fabric, they came out amazing. While there was a few mistakes, I don’t care, they are mine and I love them!!

    Keep up the inspiration!

  6. Oh Kate, I don’t know how you do it! Simply amazing before and after.

    I’ve been looking for a vintage cutting board in the shape of a pig, but haven’t had any luck so far. I never even thought about MAKING one. I will ask my very handy father if he will help me because the jigsaw scares me. Ya know, something about losing digits, and all! You’ve definitely inspired me, though, to give it a try!

  7. Oh well, duh. I’ve thought about making butcher block countertops before, and somehow that idea never translated into cutting boards.

    Yours are lovely. I have a thing for pine (which no one else seems to, alas) so I think they look particularly gorgeous.

  8. Absolutely fabulous idea! They’re beautiful! Did it use up all the wood with the 3 boards? Can I ask what size each of them were? Also – was the food grade mineral oil hard to find?


  9. Well I certainly pinned that! So beautiful! I’m also thinking. .. how about some bread boards, too? Why not? Heck, I’m gonna go to town here!

  10. I absolutely love this idea! Can you say “Christmas gifts”? Woo hoo!! I’m so excited right now. Time to Pinterest these bad boys!

  11. What beautiful cutting boards!! I’m pinning this to do someday myself! I love the handle you put in each one and the wood you used is absolutely beautiful!!

  12. Kate this is absolutely inspiring….I am going to definitely do this. The possibilities are endless.
    Thanks for sharing…..

  13. Where do you find food safe mineral oil for the cutting boards? This may sound stupid but I’m assuming it’s different than the mineral oil you find in the drug store.

  14. Are you kidding!?!? These look amazing! I was literally just looking at some of these over my lunch break that were at the farmers market in town & wishing I could have one. The wood is always so beautiful. Very well done!

  15. Hey Tracie, I’m not sure how you tell by looking at wood if it’s untreated, I made sure by asking the employees of the salvage yard. Any place that sells specialty wood will know, I wouldn’t buy ‘off the shelf’ wood from many large home improvement stores, many are already treated with chemicals you want to avoid.

    Hey Carol and Jennifer, my mineral oil is from True Value but most pharmacies carry it since it’s a digestive aid, you can find most often at drug stores but specialy food and kitchen stores carry it too for use on butcher block or other cutting boards.

    And Jennifer, yep I got all three boards out of one plank. $30 bucks for all three, not bad! Papa is 28″, Mama is 17″ and Baby is 11″.

    Thanks so much everyone, you’re right, these make great gifts !!


  16. These are gorgeous! I want one! I like baby the best :) Good point about untreated wood & using the oil….. I didn’t think about that with the chemicals! Yikes. Someday …..I will make one….hopefully I figure out twitter/blogging/facebook and feedburner someday soon so I can get busy! ha. Thanks for sharing!

  17. KATE. You blow my mind. I’m pretty sure no other home blog has this range of unique projects. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: is there anything your brain doesn’t think of? You are blessed with an amazing sense of creativity. :) I love the cutting boards and the fact that you made them yourself!

  18. Those cutting boards are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us. And I am inspired…..!!!
    Thank you !!

  19. I’m in the mood! I was thinking about making some a few months ago. Well, it was cheese boards I was thinking of – but these look fabulous, too. I think I may just put this down as a Christmas project for relatives.

    Thanks for showing how easy it can be!

    Do you know how pine holds over time?

  20. I *love* this! And I happen to have stacks of interesting wood in my potting shed! And a jigsaw! However, like you … my blades are dull. Which means I have to wait until tomorrow to do this. Which angers me. You have brought out a whole range of emotions in me tonight. ~ k!

  21. You’re too clever! What great gifts these would make – tied with a giant bow at the handle part. Man, I could even thump a burglar on the head who may be trying to break in! Love the idea…(of thumping him on the head….and the diy board, of course) :)

  22. I have a big square cutting board my uncle made himself. I love it, and you just reminded me that I should take better care of it and get me some mineral oil. Thanks for that, I needed it.
    I think the papa board is my favorite too, look at that whole baguette lying there, awesome.

  23. Great idea. The handles are perfect for grabbing. I don’t exactly have a jig saw lying around, but maybe I need to think about that. I could never have enough cutting boards. Your pictures showed them off nicely too.

  24. Kate, it’s taken me 40 years to find my hero… are it. I never tire of trolling your site for help in completing my own diy projects. Thank you for taking the time to share all you have learned.

  25. Okay, right after I saw these I started looking for salvage yards–all around here are for cars–How to you find places with wood\–do I just go to building supply stores? I want to make some of these.

  26. What a fantastic job!!! I love them, my dad does carpentry as a hobby, I might have to go to the shop with him and make some of these, they are soooooo gorgeous. I love your blog, your an inspiration to us new bloggers.

  27. I am beyond impressed. My daughter made me a gingerbread man bread board at the end of second grade at school. I thought you had to use maple for bread boards. You are fearless! Ann

  28. These are so absolutely cool! My fiance is a carpenter, but this is totally something I could pull of myself. I would love to surprise him by making these. I’d have to steal a couple of his tools, but I think I may just have to this. Thanks for the great idea!

  29. Wow! I just recently found your blog. It’s awesome! I love these cutting boards. And you did a great job with the photos. They look like they belong in Pottery Barn. Thanks for sharing!

  30. These cutting boards are just awesome! Would you mind telling the dimensions of each of them?
    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  31. Those are gorgeous, Kate! I love how chunky they are! I am going to have to make me some. I’ve been eye-ing Diana’s bread board’s for a while. She has them on sale at her Etsy, and I’ve been thinking about buying some. But she keeps selling out before I can buy them! Have you seen them?
    Thanks for more inspiration!

  32. The cutting boards are beautiful! And I am sooooo glad you posted about this because we’re looking for materials to make a desktop to sit on top of some Pottery Barn file cabinets I scored on Craig’s List and since we’re new to the area Lowe’s and HD were going to be where we looked. Well, now we’re going to check out the salvage place that I never would have know existed. Thank you, Kate!!

  33. Gorgeous boards! Is there a way to make sure the boards haven’t been treated with anything?

  34. Oh. Em. GEEEEE!!! I heart these! I must confess, I have a major infatuation with wooden cutting boards and have, oh, 7 at the present time. I have 3 more at our house in the mountains, but they have to stay there because they were my MIL’s and they belonged to my husbands gr-grandmother. LOVE these! Maybe I’ll get my hub to make me one!

  35. Oh yes Traci, Diana’s are fabulous, I was introduced yesterday, thank you!

    Hey Monique, you really need to know the source and specialty wood shops know exactly what they carry. The major home improvement stores carry wood which is often treated, so just do a little research, find a local place that sells untreated wood and get someone to guarantee it for you!


  36. Wow, these looks fantastic! I will definitely be making these! Cutting boards are expensive as it is but these are so special! Great idea for Christmas gifts! Oh how I long for the space to do all of these projects! Keep the fantastic ideas coming Kate! I love your blog!

  37. Who knew? Kate, you amaze me. I LOVE these! Have I pinned these already? gah! I can’t remember so they’re going up again :p

    If you and the fam ever take a day trip to Apple Hill (Camino) please, please let me know! I’m 15 minutes away – in Placerville. I’d love to meet you irl and thank you for your help with my dreaded pink bookcase poly nightmare. (I wound up doing a combo of rub-on and brush-on – the brush-on yellowed after I delivered it to clients. I know! Then I had to have enamel mixed to fix the yellowing after I sanded it. poo. I’m painting-furniture-cursed)

    Anyhoo – this was supposed to be a simple invitation to Apple Hill, ha!

  38. A-MA-ZING! Girl……you are so talented. This reminds me though that I have 3 gorgeous cutting boards that my BIL made for me last Christmas out of Walnut. We did a huge Reno and he took all the leftover raw floor boards and created them for me. I haven’t oiled them yet and tucked them away for safe keeping but if I’m not going to use them how will I enjoy them, right? Yeah gotta get those out of hiding!

  39. Are you worried at all about the foodsafe-ness of the salvaged wood? What about issues with lead, chemicals or other hazardous substances that may have been used to treat the wood initially? Is there a way to know that a piece of wood is safe?

  40. Amazing idea! I want to do these for Christmas gifts, now. Is there any way you’d be willing to share a download of that wonderful template?

  41. I AM SO DOING THIS! Yes, all caps! Thank you so much for this great idea and wonderful tutorial. I am so glad I found your site.

  42. Wow Kate, these are awesome! I love how chunky they are! Did you design the length of Papa board to the length of a baguette?

  43. Привет всем!
    Можите посоветывать нормальное казино ?
    Задрали лохотроны…

  44. You did a really good job on these cutting boards. They are really nice! I also make these, and I had a number of people tell me that you can also use walnut oil on them. Just thought I’d share.

  45. Gorgeous and timeless! These would make fabulous gifts and look like a great entry level project for me into woodworking! I need a new board and the plastic ones get yucky so fast. Thanks for posting this!

  46. You can make a longer-lasting and IMO nicer-looking, yet still food-safe finish, by melting some beeswax into your mineral oil. It makes a nice, soft paste that is absorbed by the wood similar to straight mineral oil. I use 4 parts mineral oil to 1 part beeswax (higher proportions of beeswax will make a more “solid” past that’s harder to work into the wood), and melt the beeswax into the mineral oil by heating gently in a clean tin can sitting in a pot of water (double-boiler-style) on the stove. As with heating any type of oil, be careful not to heat too high, and catch it on fire.

  47. How did I miss this? I’ve been wanting a couple of boards like these. Now to find a place with wood like this… Thank you!

  48. Hi,

    These cutting boards are beautiful-great work! I just wanted to mention that mineral oil is not really the most natural oil that you can use, as it’s petrolium based. We have a woodworking studio, and we use natural walnut oil for all of our cutting boards, as it’s truly the safest and purest oil that is available to finish wood naturally. The FDA has approved mineral oil for consumption, but they also approve GM food,so…! We often also use Tung oil for the same reasons. I’d be happy to send you more information if you’re interested. take care!

  49. LOVE this!! I can’t believe I haven’t seen it on Pinterest!! (I’m a self-professed addict.)

    Pinned it, and I’m including it in my “Gifts for Women” post. :)


  50. Hi, Just a note, I have three bread boards and i put them into my dishwasher to clean. Not every day but one goes in everyother day at least. I expected them to warp but they don’t for some reason. I like wood for cutting as I read that wood does something to neutralize any contaminates. Butchers have used them for as long as there have been butchers and I have never read where anyone died because of it. I absolutely love her blog!

  51. Love it! I’m making these for some Christmas presents if I can find the wood!

  52. Just found your site, OMG I am making at least 10 of your projects THIS WEEKEND, well maybe not 10 but I love these cutting boards and the cement planters and the pink and e rope basket and…where was I, oh yeah cutting boards. I do a lot of woodworking and have a large chuck of 2″ thick maple that I think will be good for the long board but I was hoping you would share your dimensions as I really like the proportions you have achieved. Oh and the template for the handle don’t suppose you have that posted anywhere? Please pretty please!

    • Hi Mikki, I posted the lengths of the cutting boards somewhere in the comments, check up above!!

  53. Bower Power linked to this post of your on her recent Sunday Fun Day post. I love this! What a great gift idea too! I am a sucker for a really nice, chunky cutting board. Thank you for sharing this.

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