5 Reasons Why You're Never Too Old to Make Cutting Boards

I suspect many “serious” craftsman are uninterested in the cutting board game. It’s not terribly challenging; if you’re selling them, the profit margin is not huge; and if you’re making more than a few the work can get repetitive and boring, very quickly.


But there are five good reasons to batch out a dozen or so.


First, you can clean out your scrap bin.  Wood is valuable…sure, it is a “renewable” resource, but with the various invasive species attacking our trees, let’s try not to take anything for granted.  You’re likely going to find pieces you just can’t do anything with, and really, there is nothing better than soaking those pieces in water, firing up the grill, and rewarding yourself with smoked ribs after a day of making cutting boards. 


Second, I believe people should fill their homes and lives with beautiful, handmade items.  Cutting boards fit this bill, perfectly. Cutting boards are accessible—they are not fancy dovetailed credenza’s or frame and panel bookshelves…most people can afford a small cutting board. Alternatively, if you need a gift in a hurry, you can likely afford to give someone a cutting board you’ve made (pro tip: you can only play this card a few times with the same recipient—keep track).


Third, they are great teaching moments for non-woodworkers. People are drawn to the various woods used—they want to know what kinds of wood are in there, how they were made, how they should be maintained, etc.  All of this is great for the craft—people who may not own or have the means to buy fancy hardwood furniture are exposed to multiple kinds of hardwoods, they put them to use, and introduce a handcrafted item into their daily lives.


Fourth, you get a quick return on your effort.  I tend to make cutting boards in batches.  It’s just more efficient.  I can go into the scrap bin(s), pull out a bunch of pieces, and layout 10 or 12 at a time.  This allows me to see complete objects go from a pile of scraps, into a glued-up mess, and then gradually into a finished cutting board. Over and over again, within a relatively short period of time, finished products are leaving the shop.  With a larger piece, you get the same fulfillment of watching the transition, but only once, over a long period of time.   With a bunch of cutting boards, it’s like the lightening round of fulfillment.


Fifth, it’s good practice. Using up the narrow pieces of scrap, you have to square up each little piece. Because the pieces are small, it’s smart to do this with a hand plane, which is great practice for the technique.  Failure to do it properly will result in gaps between the different colored pieces of wood…or worse, if multiple pieces are not squared up, the cutting board will not be flat (if you imagine ten pieces with an 88 degree angle, instead of 90, you can see, in your mind, how you will get a slight curve; there is probably a place for the half-pipe cutting board, but I haven’t found it yet). After a few rounds, you really get into the groove…you get in tune with your plane, you find new and creative ways to hold each piece, and you begin to get faster and faster.  The difference between 100% and 99% becomes immediately perceptible.