This year, I decided to make handmade cutting boards and personalize them as christmas gifts for a list of people on my nice list. Part of the intent of the project was born from a desire to use my latest addition to the shop; my new planer power planer. Also, i wanted to give meaningful christmas gifts which would last and be useful and also have a personal thoughtful touch, and yet not put me in the poor house.
The process is a fairly simple one which only gets slightly more complex when you try to make ten at a time. As I learned, it’s always best to have a process worked out. Each of these boards was made from about 8′ or 9′ of hard maple to make a 12″ x 15″ board (or a 9″ x 15″ board in some cases), costing only about $1 / ft from Home Depot. Each of these boards cost about $8 or $9 in materials, therefore. Comparable cutting boards can sell for $15 or $20 in a store. The size of the board I took particular care to decide for many reasons. One reason was simply the amount of wood i would require to make ten copies, and the workspace limitation in my shop and the 12″ max width of the planer. Another reason, however, was to make the board small enough to easily wash in a normal sink and dish drying rack, and to fit on a table for a cheese/bread board without crowding out the plates too much.
Using the chop saw to cut the strips to length, I then clamped up my pieces with a pair of bar clamps and let the glue dry overnight. Subsequently, planed down the boards and trimmed the edges flush with my radial arm saw.
The next steps involved routing the edges with a roundover bit, cutting out a handle with some forstner drill bits, routing the inside pocket of the handle, and sanding all the way from 60 to 220 grit.
I had wanted to get better at the art so I decided to do all these boards freehand. I created a unique logo for each board in the top right corner by the handle whereas the rest of the corners all had similar holly leaves (though they are all a little varied). I tried to keep the art to the corners of the board away from the working areas where the knives could ruin the artwork.
In conclusion, like all projects, I wish I had started a week or two earlier. But it was a rewarding experience and those who got the boards seemed to like them a lot, and I felt my objective was achieved. The best part of the whole project was seeing the board be put to use for dinner during the holidays and knowing it will last for many holidays to come.