My Daughter Makes a Cutting Board

My daughter is 11 and wanted to take a crack at her first solo woodworking project; a Maple and Paddock Cutting Board. We have made things together before but this she did all of the hands on work with only verbal pointers and guidance as needed.

The Maple in this board is from our yard, her childhood home, so this will be a very special piece for her to keep and use over the years.

My hopes in sharing this is to show you that the hardest part of wood working, at any level, is having the confidence to jump in and give it a try.

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Step 1

I started by choosing maple from my yard and some padauk. The maple was very uneven, so I used the drum sander to even it out. I repeated this process with the rest of my boards so that I had a nice, flat surface. 

Step 2

Then I measured the width of the main board and set the bandsaw guard to that width. I cut all my boards to that width.

Step 3

Next, I laid out the boards in the pattern that I liked. I just moved the wood around until I thought it looked nice!

Step 4

The next step was to pick the width that I wanted the finished board to be and cut all of the boards to that length. 

Step 5

I then prepared my work surface for the glue-up by covering the area with a silicone mat and some wax paper. My dad helped me put up the parallel bar clamps, and then I applied a lot (and I mean a lot!) of Titebond III to the front and back of all the pieces. 

Step 6

After tightening the clamps, I let the glued-up boards sit for about 10 minutes and then scraped off the excess glue. Then I let the boards sit overnight to make sure the glue was completely dry before removing the clamps.

Step 7

Next, I marked the edges of my board using a square, and then cut the edges on the bandsaw. I ran the board through the drum sander to get a nice, even top. There were some bug tracks in the wood, so at first I tried picking them out with my fingernails… And then my dad stopped me and gave me a dental tool. It worked much better! I filled the gaps with TotalBoat 2:1 High Performance Epoxy, allowed it to dry, and did the same thing on the other side. 

Step 8

At this point, I decided to get rid of the bark. After the epoxy on both sides were hardened, I put the cutting board into a vice and removed the bark with a draw knife.

Step 9

Next, I ran the board through the drum sander, yet again, to remove the extra resin. Then I sanded the whole thing with a random orbital sander with a 150 grit sanding pad. At this point, my dad told me to spray the board with water to make the damaged wood fibers stand up before the final sand. If you don’t do this, the first time the board is washed, it’ll get a fuzzy feeling. The final sand was the 220 grit on the random orbital sander.

Step 10

I finished the cutting board with a liberal amount of mineral oil and let that soak in for a couple of hours. Then I did a final coat of Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner. This soaked in overnight, and then I buffed off the little bit of excess with a dry rag for the final finish.

The Final Result

I thought the finished product looked really good, and that my family would use it a lot! The hardest part of the build was picking out the wood, because I didn’t want to get the wrong color. But I was surprised that the padouk could get so dark and rich after I put the oil on! Overall, the cutting board was actually easier to make than I thought.

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