Here's a question for you! How many cutting boards do you have in your house RIGHT NOW? I'll be you have at least 2 and many of you will have 3 or 4. And, if you are up on the latest news, the wooden ones are still the best because the natural chemicals in the wood, the oils and tannins for example, are anti-bacterial apparently. That's right, the natural oils in wood actually kills bacteria, making wooden cutting boards more food safe than plastic cutting boards. Amazing!
In this article we explore not only the aspects of making cutting boards, but we will also touch on revenues that can be made in selling them. If you think about how many houses there are in your country and that each one of them has at least 2 cutting board, you can see that the potential for selling cutting boards is quite significant. But you can't just throw together any cutting board, you need to make something unique, different or otherwise more useful than just the run-of-the-mill cutting boards that can be found in many stores. And, if you have some sort of a venue where you can sell them yourself, like a flea market, garage sales, on-line etc. there are many different ways of selling and distributing cutting boards, we'll leave that part up to you.
Cutting boards can be made from pretty much any kind of wood. Hard woods work best because they last longer. In my opinion, the best cutting board wood is Oak because it has both tannin and natural oils to help combat bacteria, but any wood will work fine. Then next thing you need to decide on is design ...
and if you need some help with that, just go to www.pintrest.com, type in cutting boards, and you will be amazed at what you will see. This should at least give you some ideas on what you may want to do, or maybe you already know.
If you are combining woods, that is, gluing woods together, you maybe using woods from the same species or you maybe using woods from different species for a better look or other modification. In the cutting board we made in this video we used a local wood called Arbutus or Madrona. It is a very hard wood when dry and tends to be chippy when cutting or planing and often has a mind of it's own when cutting, so it's a hard wood to work with for large projects, but for small ones like cutting boards, it works well.
In our case we glued several pieces together and we used ordinary carpenters glue for this. Many people who make cutting boards use out-door glue because many are water proof, but we have not seen a real need for that amount of water proofing on a cutting board, and the out door glues never really harden, but stay softer because they need to flex with the changes in temperature and dry and wet seasons. Cutting boards are seldom subjected to these harsh conditions. Other people will use the polyurethane glues like Gorilla Glue or like the Titebond Polyurethane glue. These glues are water proof and dry very hard and are perfect for any gap filling that might be needed. For cutting boards, we have never seen the need to go to this extreme type of glue, but if you feel more comfortable with using it, there is no reason not to use it.
We decided to make our cutting board a bit more distinctive by creating bread-board ends, which are basically just a tongue and grove joint. Then nice thing with this kind of end treatment is that it helps to prevent the cutting board from warping and allows us to use a different type of wood to help enhance the appearance.
Making the bread-board end is easy on a router. The first thing you need to remember is that you always start with making the tongue cut first. This is the always true when making tongue and grove cuts. The reason we do this is because we can then use the tongue to set the bit height for the grove. We use this same methodology when making rail and style doors.
Final Flatness Prep
After the all the pieces, including the end pieces are glued on and are dry, you may find a tiny bit of a height adjustment needs to be made to the whole board in order to make it flat. In our case we ran it through a planer, but because their is wood running at 90 degrees to one another on the board, to compensate for this we rant the board through at a slight angle. This isn't always possible so alternatives are hand planing of simply just sanding the top and bottom flat. Do what ever works best for you in your shop. And of course after you plane, you will still need to sand your cutting board anyway to prep it for a finish and for handling and usage.
Much has been written about woodworking and food-safe products. Many people suggest a list of products and some make claims that some products will go rancid over time if used.
I all of my research, I have never found ANY first hand proof of anyone ever being harmed by any finish that has been put on a cutting board. There is a bit of third of fourth hand ... i.e. my cousin had a next door neighbor who's aunt got sick from food cut on a a cutting board (but we can never really track down that aunt) ...
Here's what we do know first of all NEVER use peanut oil, or even walnut oil - both have a list of people with known sever allergies. After that, it seems you can pretty much use anything that is listed as food safe, as long as who the cutting board is going to knows what finish is on it - that is imperative. As for all the claims of oils that go rancid (and we know they do over a long time), most cutting boards go into use right away and get washed and wiped often, so the fact is, pretty much anything you put on when you are putting a finish on a cutting board, by the end of week two of usage, that material will have long been wiped or washed off. I personally do not know anyone who re-treats cutting boards, except maybe once or twice when first new. I'm sure there are people out there who do, I just don't know any, which means ... probably the best, and certainly the safest finish you can apply to a cutting board is ... wait for it ... NO finish at all.
If you are selling cutting boards, you will want to make the wood POP so you will want to put something on, and I don't know anyone who is allergic to Tung Oil, which is made from the Tung Nut, wipe on a couple of thin layers, your cutting board look fabulous, the Tung Oil dries to a hard finish overnight and it's ready for use. Even Tung Oil will have been diluted or wiped off completely after a couple weeks of use, so the only real reason to put it on is to make it look good initially. There is a whole list of other products you could use if you don't like or have Tung Oil, just look it up on the Internet, you can even buy commercial products that are food safe and I'm sure they are all good as well, if you are inclined to go that route.
In The End ...
Making cutting boards may not be the most exciting woodworking project you ever do ... or, maybe it is, there are some wonderful examples of cutting boards, and some of them are priced quite dearly too to reflect the time, effort and design that has gone into them.
Whatever you decide to do, making a cutting boards will be a welcome addition to everyone's kitchen. Make it well and it will last for many many years and forever remind the user that this cutting board was made by ....
Copyright - Colin Knecht