The 67¢ End-Grain Cutting Board

While wandering around one of my favorite green building stores (Building Value Cincinnati on Spring Grove Ave.) I stumbled across a deal that was hard to pass up.  Twelve reclaimed 2″ x 2″x 36″ pieces of wood for $1.00.  I can’t say exactly what kind of wood it is, but I’m leaning toward some type of cedar.  I could be wrong.  It has a unique smell and funky grain pattern, so I couldn’t pass up the deal.  I have been wanting to try my hand at making a cutting board since I haven’t made one since my high school shop class (which was obviously my favorite class).  So, I bit the bullet and plopped down a whopping $1.00 for the materials for the cutting board.

There are several types of cutting boards that you can buy/make.

1.  Plastic cutting boards – No thanks.


Long grain cutting board from

2.  Flat, edge, or long grain cutting boards – Cheap, easy to make, look nice, but not as durable.






End grain cutting board from

3.  End grain cutting boards– The ultimate!  End grain cutting boards are easier on knives (knife sinks in between the wood fibers instead of cutting across the fibers on a long grain board), tend to last longer, and just look cooler!  Also, more challenging to build because of the extra steps.




An easy way to visualize the different types of cutting boards is to look at a log like this.

End grain vs. edge grain

So, my end grain cutting board project began with 8 pieces of wood – for a total of 67¢.

Rough cut recycled wood for 67¢

I first used a jointer to square up two sides of each board, then a table saw to square up the rest of the sides of the wood.  Once the wood was square, I cross cut the 8 pieces in half to make 16 pieces of wood to choose from.  I chose the best and funkiest looking (for a total of 13) and glued them up.  You can stop at this stage, flatten the cutting board out, square up the ends, oil it, and have a beautiful long grain cutting board, but I wanted to take this board to the next level.

Cutting board glued up as a “long grain” board

On a side note, I used Titebond II glue.  Titebond II is water resistant and cures food safe.  After the glue dried over night, I planed (hand planed, still don’t have a power planer) the board perfectly flat.  Very important step.  An uneven cutting board at this stage will leave nasty gaps when you expose the end grain.

Planed perfectly flat and ready to expose the end grain!

The next step is to cross cut 13 strips from the glued up board.  After cutting the strips, I laid them out in their original order and began to mix up the puzzle.  For the design I flipped every other strip 180 degrees to create a checkerboard pattern.

The final glue up goes exactly the same as the first glue up.  I sanded down the top and bottom, and then rounded over the edges.    A couple coats of cutting board oil and it’s ready to go!  A pretty fun 67¢ project!  Total time:  2 days

The final product! Oiled and ready to go!

For an excellent video on creating end-grain cutting boards, check out (you guessed it) the Wood Whisperer’s video here.


“The Anniversary Table”


No power tools, no screws, no nails. Just simple joints made with hand tools and all reclaimed wood – chestnut and walnut. Pretty inspirational woodworking! Someday I’ll take a project like this on………

A Covenant with Wood

The following is an excerpt from “How to Build Shaker Furniture” by Thos. Moser.  I couldn’t have said it better…

1953 Craftsman Table Saw in my shop - restored and working like a champ!

1953 Craftsman Table Saw in my shop – restored and working like a champ!

A craftsman is but a handmaiden to his material.  The inherent qualities of wood limit to a considerable extent the cabinetmaker’s choices.  Unlike plastic or rubber, concrete or steel, wood has a mind of its own.  It is not easily bent and when bent wants to return in time to its original form.  It is easy to break along its grain, yet it will withstand considerable shearing force.  It warps without provocation and swells and contracts with the seasons as though it had entered a conspiracy with the calendar to loosen chair rungs in the winter and swell drawers shut in summer.  Wood cracks mindlessly, can shed a finish with disastrous effect, refuses to be cut from north to south yet yields submissively from east to west.  It splinters, bows, cups, shrinks, loosens, swells, dents, cracks, gives off slivers, and changes color.  Yet to many of us wood remains the most pleasing of all natural materials, for in the richness and variety of its grain is to be found nature’s texture incarnate.  Wood is a kind of bridge between man and that organic mass of growing things he calls Mother Earth.  Wood is a renewable resource which has given us warmth and

My hand planes…

shelter and provided unrivaled joy to the eye and to the touch since long before recorded time.  Along with water and stone it is our most fundamental material-without it our world would be an alien place.  In wood man fashioned his first tool; in wood he built the ladder with which he has ascended over the millennia.  It literally surrounds us from the cradle to the coffin.  Wood may well be called the foundation of civilization.

When the craftsman commits himself to work in wood, he becomes party in a contract.  If he is sensitive to his material, he enters into a kind of covenant in which he acknowledges a certain subservience to his medium.  He agrees:

1.  To come to understand, not in a cognitive way, but through feelings the nature of wood.

2.  To admit at the very beginning that there is no such thing as perfection in wood, for in spite of all his efforts there will always be some minute blemish, some telltale error, recorded in the wood though known only to the builder.

3.  In laying out and forming joints, to anticipate the inevitable movement that will occur long after the work is finished.

Reclaimed Wood Floating Mantels

I have always wanted to have a mantel over a fireplace.  So I made two – And here’s how!

I don’t like the idea of paying full price for anything or buying anything new.  If a tree has already been cut down, why not keep using it until it becomes termite food?  So that is what we did.  We took a trip to a green building store called Building Value on Spring Grove Avenue.  Building Value is a non-profit reclaimed building supply store that is pretty awesome.

In this case we were looking for a big wood beam.  What we found was a wood beam that had been salvaged from a late 1800’s house.  $40.00.

Cutting the beam into the actual mantels is pretty self explanatory…use a saw or 2 or 3 -whatever kind you have.  I used a circular saw, sawzall, hand saws, and hand planes.   Pull out all of the nails.  You can even use a metal detector to check for nails you missed (like I missed).  Luckily I found several nails with the sawzall and not the circular saw.  Make sure the back of the mantel is flat and 90 degrees from the top so it sits flat against the wall.

Once the beams were cut into the shape/size I wanted, I coated them with 3 coats of lacquer-just to give it a little more “finished” look.

Now for the fun part: Making them float.

To do this, I used a pretty simple technique.  The only parts I had to buy were six lag bolts (10″ or 12″ long lag bolts, depending on how thick the mantel is).  First, I decided where the mantels would be mounted.  Using an electronic stud finder, I found where three studs were behind each mantel.  I drilled a hole into each stud and screwed the lag bolt in (fairly deep).

Next, using a sawzall (now with a metal cutting blade), I cut off the heads of each of the six lag bolts.  You are now left with 3 metal “dowels” sticking out of the wall!

To transfer the exact location of the “dowels” to the back of the mantel, I made a cardboard template the exact size of each of my mantels and mounted the cardboard to the wall.  Make sure to mark the top and the bottom of your template as well as the top and bottom of your mantel (on the back) – It makes a difference, speaking from experience…

Then, using the cardboard template, transfer the locations of the holes to the back of the mantels and drill holes the depth and diameter of the lag bolts.

Finally, slide the mantels over the lag bolts and flat against the wall!  I originally planned to glue the mantels into place, however, I found that the weight of the wood is MORE than enough to hold them in place.

This was a two day project:

– Day one cutting the wood mantels/lacquering the wood

– Day two mounting the mantels