How to Make a Butcher Block Cutting Board

Learn how to Make a Butcher Block Cutting Board with DIY Pete. We made a cutting board out of select hardwoods: walnut, cherry, and maple. The final dimension is 12″x16″x3/4″. This is a great DIY project for those just getting into woodworking or for the more advanced as well. This is a quick project and with only a couple of hours and a few dollars, you can do this too! Butcher block cutting boards make great gifts for friends and family. Check out the video and step-by-step instructions below.

Supply and Tool List for the Cutting Board

Hardwoods for Cutting Board

1 Walnut board 4″x16″x1″
1 Maple Board 4″x16″x1″
1 Cherry Board 4″x16″x1″
Cost: The hardwoods will vary in cost depending where you live. For the one large cutting board it cost me about $15 for the wood. Since I made another, smaller, cutting board for this project, the wood cost $22 total for all.

Gorilla Wood Glue
Cost: $3 or so at your local hardware store or on Amazon

Mineral Oil Foodsafe Finish/Conditioner
Cost: $8 for a full bottle, this project only uses about 1/10th of the bottle.

Tools

Table Saw
Miter Saw or Circular Saw

Jack Clamp (set of 2) Use my JackClamp coupon code to get $5 off any order over $50 – Code: DIYPETE5
Gorilla Wood Glue

Ryobi Orbital Sander

Mineral Oil Foodsafe Finish

Thickness Planer (optional)

Square, Tape Measure, Pencil, Ear and Eye Protection

Step 1: Clean up the raw boards’ ends and sides

You want to work with straight boards for a butcher block build, ensuring the joints will be clean. Start by trimming the sides and ends of your hardwood boards. Trim the sides on a table saw or with a circular saw and straight-edge and trim the ends on a miter saw. Leave the ends of the boards slightly longer than your desired final dimension, as you’ll trim it down again later.

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┬áStep 2: Cut the boards into 3/4″ Strips

Now, you need to rip all the strips for the butcher block cutting board. The best method for this is by setting your table saw fence to the desired dimension (3/4″ in this case) and ripping the boards. Do this step for all of the walnut, maple, and cherry boards.

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 Step 3: Organize the Strips and Apply Glue

Once you’ve ripped the strips to size on the table saw, you can lay them out and decide the sequence or pattern that you like. The walnut and maple darks and lights make for great contrast, while the cherry pleases the eye somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Once you’ve organize your pattern, flip all of the boards either left or right to show the end grain.

Apply a generous amount of glue to all of the strips’ end grain. I highly recommend Gorilla Wood Glue! Rub the glue in, and spread it with your fingers or with a piece of scrap wood, etc. Flip the strips back over to show the top grain. Stick the glued side of one strip to the dry side of another strip. For the two end pieces, I suggest to add glue to both sides of the strips to ensure a solid joint.

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Step 4: Clamp the Strips together and Let Glue Set

Clamp your butcher block cutting board with at least two clamps on either end of the block. Wipe all of the excess glue, both on the cutting board and your workstation, with a damp rag. This will save you time later in the sanding stage and ensures a clean shop! Let the glue set/dry for at least 1 hour or however long your glues’ manufacturer recommends.

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Step 5: Either Plane or Sand the block

Unless you’re able to buy lumber that is exactly the same thickness, each strip of the butcher block cutting board will likely vary and thus the need for planing or sanding. If you have a thickness planer, they make clean, quick, and consistent work out of smoothing down your cutting board. A thickness planer is optimal, but this step can also be completed with an orbital sander and a little elbow grease. If sanding, start with 40 to 60 grit sandpaper to even the strips’ thickness. Trim the ends of the butcher block on a miter saw, getting to your final dimensions.

Come through with the orbital sander after planing or sanding the block evenly and do the finish sanding. Sand the block down to 220 or higher, sand all of areas of the block, and ease the edges. Some other advanced options would be to route the edges with a round-over bit, inlay a design or accent strip in the butcher block, and more. Wipe the dust off of the board with a tack cloth or wet rag. Prepare your workstation for finishing.

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Step 6: Apply the Food-safe Finish

Cutting boards need to be finished in a food-safe finish. My finish of choice is Howard Products Butcher Block Conditioner. It is a blend of mineral oil, beeswax, and vitamin e and it exceeds US FDA regulations for direct and indirect contact with food. Rub the finish into the butcher block cutting board generously. The end grain of the hardwoods will soak up more of the finish than the top grain, be sure to rub over the whole board. Let this soak into and penetrate the board for 20 minutes, then come through with a clean microfiber cloth and polish the board. You can add rubber feet to the bottom of the board if you’d like.

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Step 7: Enjoy your new Cutting Board

I hope you’ve enjoyed building your butcher block cutting board as much as I did! These are a great DIY project for anyone from beginners to advanced woodworkers. The opportunities and customizations are endless. Enjoy your work! Cheers

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  • ajmitchell436

    Just made a cutting board similar to this using cherry, maple, and purple heart. Followed all the steps however afterI unclamped everything and and came back to do my sanding a few hours later my whole cutting board was warped upwards. What could cause this? I’ve since clamped everything back down and flat. But haven’t checked it yet. Any way to fix this?

    • DIYPETE

      Sorry to hear that this happened! It could be a couple of things, but a couple of things I’d like to point out are that, when gluing up different species of wood like this with varying grain, you’ll want to look at the end of the boards and alternate the end grain. Meaning that if one strip has grain flowing upwards, alternate that next board’s end grain to be opposite, pointing down. This will helping with cupping, they won’t all cup the same way like what has happened to you. Wood will always move, especially when still curing and with humidity. I’m surprised to hear that pre-glueup everything looked fine and now its all warped, though.

      You could always try to get a couple of flat boards across the top of the butcher block and them clamp them down to a work surface to help push the warp/cupping out. You may break a joint or two, but you can always reglue that and would then give you opportunity to alternate the end grain. Again, sorry this happened and good luck!

      • Noah J Kennelly

        So my brother in law and I made a couple Butcher Block Cutting Boards for my wife & sister for Christmas 2015, before I ever found
        DIYPETE. One of the things we did was (while the pieces were still rough cut)
        drill 3 holes through the entire board, except for the two end pieces. Then, at
        final assembly, along with the glue, we ran some “all thread” through
        the holes and tightened from both end with nut/washers and trimmed off the
        excess all thread. Finally, we drilled counter sink holes in the two end pieces
        to accommodate the nuts, glued them on then clamped the whole thing together.

        This process serves three purposes…

        1. Prevents warping (addresses ajmitchell436’s issue)

        2. Continues to hold the whole thing together well after
        the glue decides to break down and let the board to start cracking at the seams

        3. The all thread adds a significant amount of weight
        making the board much heftier than the wood alone. No rubber feet needed.

        Mine is ~21.25×18.5x.75 inches of poplar, oak, walnut, & cherry. My wife is afraid to mess it up so she hasn’t used it yet.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a8a875ee2b343ccac27fe032efcaa0b253fb73a703671b9e39ee5fbda0897c5c.jpg

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67a6c74a597ff5740d06e3b204412a3601bfe6febaf9fe4d7cad2f87ddbfaf1c.jpg

  • Tim Gough

    Would you be able to do this as more of a box design and drill a hole (4 or 5 inches in diameter) through the glued strips? I have a friend that would like the kind of cutting board where you can sweep your scraps into the hole and empty them out with a small drawer.

    • DIYPETE

      Tim, thats a really good idea! Would that hole be off-center? This joinery makes for a really secure hold and yes, I have seen holes up to about 3″ in diameter cut into these butcher block boards. Would be an excellent build! Are you going to make it?

      • Tim

        Sorry for the late response. I never got an email saying you responded to my comment. That hole would be off center, something like the bottom right area. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to attempt it. I live in Chicago and have to head to the suburbs to work on projects. I also haven’t seen the type of wood I want, so it’s been on the back burner. But I did make the cooler box this weekend. I need to finish staining it which I’ll do next weekend. I’m looking forward to trying a few other projects from your site.

        • diypete

          Hey Tim! Great to hear from you and nice work on the cooler box, that’s fantastic! Best of luck on all your other projects. Cheers

  • Eric Stoner

    Nice work!

  • Jared Cross

    Will be building. I’m going to need a new miter and a planer. This cutting board just got significantly more expensive. Also it cracks me up the way you say “measure”…this coming from a Louisiana man. I’m sure you’d laugh at my accent.

  • nathan p

    Yep, you were right, I like it I’ve been wanting a good quality cutting board since I am the cook of the house. Will look to build it sometime!

    • DIYPETE

      Thanks Nathan! Appreciate you checking this out and staying active on the DIYPete Community! Keep up the good work and would love to see your cutting board soon. Cheers!

      • nathan p

        I looked for maple and cherry today at Menards, they don’t carry it. I wasn’t getting my hopes up finding it there. Was it easy for you to find?

        • DIYPETE

          Really!? Sorry to hear that Nathan. It wasn’t too hard for me to find hardwoods here in Montana. I went to a local store named Kenyon Noble Lumber. Best of luck, would love to see your build on this one! Cheers

          • nathan p

            I have been building frame for your outdoor bar all day today and back and fourth staining concrete top. I am really liking it! I cant wait to show finished. It is a little different than yours, but I think you might like it…. I have had people ask me If I bought the table I posted on your sight, didn’t know if you saw it. I tell them about you and your sight… Cant wait for concrete project, I really enjoy working with it..