Making a Live Edge Walnut Cutting Board, A Great Beginner Project!

Today I show you how to make an organically shaped live edge walnut cutting board. This cutting board has been sitting out at the workshop for only a day or two but has already caught at least a dozen complements. Just between you and me I made it as an example of a fantastic project for a beginner because anything with an organic shape is very forgiving of mistakes.

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Step 1

First, I marked the slab where I wanted to make my cuts. At the top, I carefully looked and marked where I was going to have the neck of the board start for a visual reference. I then cut the slab with my circular saw to the size I wanted. To get a flat bottom I ran this through the planer on both sides. 

Step 2

I then flattened the surface. Next, I sketched out a couple of designs for the neck, picked the one that I liked best, and adhered it to the board using some spray adhesive. I cut it out with my jigsaw, and the board was starting to take shape!

Step 3

Next, I removed loose pieces of bark with a chisel. I sanded the board with my random orbital sander and a 60 grit pad. There were a couple of cracks, so I mixed up some TotalBoat High Performance 2:1 epoxy and filled them. This would keep any splits from continuing as the board was used. 

Step 4

The back had a pretty big divot, so I sanded it and created a dam using hot glue and painter’s tape to hold the epoxy in place while it cured. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done! After letting the epoxy set up overnight, I removed the painter’s tape and scraped the excess epoxy away with a card scraper. 

Step 5

At this point, the back had a lot more to trim, so I ended up using a paint scraper before continuing with a card scraper. I sanded the neck with a belt sander, and then I went to my oscillating sander to do the rounded areas. I continued with my random orbital sander on an 80 grit after that to get the finished shape that I wanted. After I finished rough sanding, I switched to a 220 grit and repeated the process. 

Step 6

I used a ¼” Forstner grit to drill a hole in the middle of the handle for hanging. Then it was time to clean the piece with a cloth slightly dampened with paint thinner. It’s important to let this completely evaporate before moving ahead. 

Step 7

Finally, I poured three coats of mineral oil, revealing a lot of coloration and grain pattern. Then, I used a beeswax butcher’s block conditioner, and I let a healthy coating of that sit on the board for about 12 hours before buffing it to a nice sheen. This would help to protect it from use and make it last for years.

The Final Result

This easy woodworking project was a success, and now we have a cutting board that we’ll be able to use for years to come!

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