As a “first project” I wanted to try my hand at something that was relatively straightforward, could be completed with a limited number of tools (limited by what I have available), something substantial, maybe an item that could also be a gift for my wife. So I chose to upcycle an off-cut from a kitchen worktop.
After consulting a couple of books and several websites on beginner projects, I decided to make a simple chopping board. This would be a basic design; several lengths of timber laminated together, cut to size and then rounded off to make a presentable piece.
When looking to make a chopping board, you ideally want to use a tight-grained wood, the popular choices tending to be either Maple or Beech. The tight nature of the wood grain means that the amount of bacteria build up on the surface of the chopping board will be minimised. I decided to use Beech, aiming for a board with overall dimensions of 17” in length by 10” in width and 1 ¼” in thickness.
First port of call was my local timber merchant. I was aiming to get around 12 feet of beech at 1 ¼” x 1 ¼”. But when I got there and asked about their hardwood selection, it turns out that the only hardwoods sold at the merchants that I went to are Oak and Iroko. I figured that maybe if this merchant didn’t have a supply of the hardwood I needed, then they may be able to point me in the right direction.
After chatting to one of the guys that work in the merchants, I managed to get the names of a few places that would likely stock other hardwoods such as Beech or Maple. I mentioned what I was planning to build and he suggested that if they had an “off-cut” large enough, then I should consider taking one and trying to use it to make my chopping board.
Being open minded, I had a look at the best off-cut he had and decided to run with it. The off-cut was from an Oak kitchen worktop (cost was around £4.00),
It was a little thicker than I was looking for and the odd shape meant that I couldn’t quite run with the dimensions that I had planned. But I could get a decent sized chopping board from it, roughly measuring 13” x 9” x 1 ½”. Plus, at the price I paid, I could afford to make a few changes to the plan.
After using a Stanley No4 Bench Plane to square up the cuts and then add a chamfer/bevelled edge around the top and bottom of the board, the next job was to sand the piece down.
Again I used a three step process for sanding. 80-grit paper for rounding off the chamfer so that the edges of the board were a smooth curve. This was then followed by using a 120-grit and then a 180-grit paper over the entire piece until a consistent texture was achieved.
The final step was to apply a finish that would be suitable for use with food and that would bring an extra dimension to the look of the piece. Being a complete novice when it comes to finishing, I did a bit of research on a few forums and decided to try Osmo Top Oil. This is labelled as being suitable for kitchen worktops and other surfaces that come into contact with food.
I applied 4 thin coats of the finish straight onto the entire board using a lint free cloth (I picked these up from a local B&Q in the car care section). I should add, I first tested the oil on a scrap piece from the original off-cut, to see how it would turn out.
Overall I am quite happy with the finished article,
I think that I will be making at least one more chopping board, and although I admittedly love the look of oak, I would like to use a tight grained wood that is much more practical than an oak. This piece will basically be used by my wife as a bread serving board for when we have guests round.