DIY, East Bay, Life

Make Your Own Maple Cutting Board

This project is a relatively simple one, but makes for a great gift for friends and family. We ended up making two over one weekend; one for a housewarming gift, and one for a wedding gift. Annie and I are always looking for a project, and believe giving a handmade gift is the best way to show some love to our family and friends. As a side benefit, it takes only a couple hours from cutting the boards to conditioning the finished boards with bees wax.

First you need to find a good hardwood supplier. Interestingly, this was far more difficult than I had anticipated. I figured the Bay Area would have dozens of them; However, that is not the case. After visiting a few, I recommend MacBeath Hardwood located in Berkeley, CA. They also have a store in San Francisco, but the SF store didn’t have a good selection of hardwood cutoffs like Berkeley did. You’ll find all sorts of hardwood from exotic zebra wood to common oak. I found a nice 3-4′ section of maple that would give me a few cutting boards.

Rough cut maple boards

I cut them down to size and ended up with three decently sized cutting boards. Next step was to get out the router and round off the edges using a roundover bit. This gives you a nice finished feel and keeps the sanding to a minimum.

Router setupRouter and roundover bit


Routered edges

A quick trip to the sanding station to lightly sand them using 200 grit sandpaper, and then over to Annie’s branding station (aka kitchen table with a glass of white wine).

Letter stencilsStenciling Letters onto cutting board


Branding Wood with Soldering Iron

Annie stencils on the letters as a rough guide and then burns them on using a soldering iron (I know, not exactly the right tool, but seems to work really well). The key here is to be patient in order to uniformly burn the wood in the shape of the letter.

Conditioning Oil

Last step is to condition the cutting board with bees wax. I used Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner (from Home Depot). Heat it up under some hot water first so that it absorbs into the wood pores. I applied three coats spaced 20-30 minutes apart and it seemed to be enough.

Wrap it up in some butcher’s paper and you’ve got a great gift.


Finished Maple Cutting Board