Depending on the level of effort you want to put into this project you can either start with an off the shelf cutting board or glue up your own. Making your own provides you with more design flexibility for color(s), patterns, size, and thickness, but there’s nothing wrong with buying a cutting board and modifying it if you don’t have the time or ability to prepare your own.
In the video I ripped down and plane several pieces of black walnut and then glue them together the same way I did in Making an End Grain Cutting Board. After letting the glue dry for 24 hours I ran the glue up through my planer to flatten it out.
Cutting Your State
I use a scroll saw to cut out my desired shapes. If you have significant artistic talent you can certain free hand your cut, but as you can see in the video, it is much easier to glue a template onto the wood. I typically find my images online and print them on standard paper to the size I want. You can use a spray adhesive or glue stick to secure the paper to the wood. I find that glue sticks are not as messy during application and the template is easier to remove when you’re done.
Follow your template and take your time. Scroll saws are not meant for speed, especially with thick boards. If you don’t have access to a scroll saw you could also use a band saw with a small blade or a jig saw. The advantage of a scroll saw however, it that its easier to cut fine details and the cut edges won’t require as much sanding. The high tech alternative is to use a CNC router, but again you won’t be able to include fine detail.
After I finish cutting out my shape I use a random orbital sander with 220 Grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and remove any scratches. Then I use a sanding block to sand the sides and break the edges. Once I’m satisfied with the look and feel of all surfaces I seal the wood with a 50/50 mix of salad bowl finish and mineral spirits. I only apply one coat and wipe off any extra after I’ve allowed it to soak in for a few minutes. Once the finish is dry I coat the board food grade mineral oil and it is ready for use.
To date I have made Michigan (where I grew up) and Wisconsin (where I live) shaped cutting boards. I have also played around with making a Wisconsin Cheese knife to pair with the cutting board as a fun cheese serving combination.
Tool and Materials List
- Walnut, Maple, or other lumber
- Band saw or table saw
- Scroll saw (or band saw or jigsaw)
- Planer (optional)
- Random orbital sander
- 220 Grit sanding pad
- Foam Sanding Block
- Wood Glue
- Silicone Glue Brush or Glue Roller (optional)
- Salad Bowl Finish
- Mineral Spirits
- Cotton rag
- Nitrile gloves
- Food grade mineral oil