Hi friends! Today I’m really excited to share with you how to carve your own custom cutting board! This project was surprisingly easy to do using my Inventables x-carve machine. If you’re interested in creating your own personalized cutting board, then follow along as I walk you step-by-step through the process.
How to Carve a Custom Cutting Board
I love wooden cutting boards and am a firm believer that you can never have too many in the kitchen. A great cutting board will encourage me to cook. While the flimsy silicon ones definitely serve their purpose, there really is nothing quite like a sturdy wooden cutting board when prepping food.
My mother-in-law’s birthday is coming up, and she LOVES to cook. I mean, really loves to cook. She’s always wearing an apron and covered in either chopped onions or dusted with flour. (And she’s an amazing cook, too — I’m really lucky!)
I’ve never made a cutting board and have always wanted to try. So when I realized her birthday was coming up, I thought this would be the perfect time to try carving one for her!
And, in case you didn’t know, “Baba” means grandmother in Bulgarian! That’s what our kids call her.
If you want to create your own, it’s pretty easy to do with the right tools. First things first, gather your materials:
Materials Needed for a Personalized Cutting Board
- Wood – I used a 6″ by 12″ piece of walnut. SO pretty! I got mine from the Inventables website, which is a lot less intimidating than hitting up a lumber store.
- Inventables x-carve – This is a computerized router that makes carving into wood super fun and easy.
- Carving bits – For this project, I used a 90-degree v bit, which carved the intricate design perfectly.
- A design – You can grab the cutting file I used right here if you’re using an x-carve. Or you can design your own. I’ll talk more about this down below.
- Sander – I used this Ryobi orbital sander to finish the piece after the carve.
- Finishing oil – Walrus Oil is by far my favorite brand of finishing oil. For a cutting board, be sure to use a nice quality, food-safe oil since you’ll be eating food off of it.
Step 1: Prepare Your Cutting File
I like to create my own cutting files when using my x-carve. For this project, I was inspired by an apron. Yes, an apron! My mother-in-law is Bulgarian, and she recently hung up this gorgeous apron. It was HER grandmother’s. The apron is embroidered with a traditional Bulgarian floral motif. To say it’s beautiful and precious is SUCH an understatement!
Here’s a photo of my husband’s great-great-grandmother’s apron, with my mother-in-law’s reflection in the background:
I first traced the image in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet. Then, I converted it into an SVG file in Illustrator. Honestly, you could do the whole thing in Illustrator, but I feel far more comfortable working in Photoshop.
Step 2: Upload Your Cutting File into Easel
After I created my design, I uploaded the SVG file into Easel.
Y’all, Easel is SO easy to use. Seriously so easy. I first selected the material I was going to use, Walnut. Then I entered the dimensions as 6 inches by 12 inches by 1/2 inch.
When the image was loaded into Easel, I selected everything and centered it on my material. Then I selected everything again, and I dragged the depth slider to cut the depth I wanted.
Lastly, I selected the bit to use. For this project, I used a 90-degree v-bit, which is great for carving intricate designs.
At each step of the way, I hit “detailed preview” to see what the carve would look like. For me, this is REALLY helpful when selecting a bit to make sure the bit I choose can actually carve the intricate design.
Step 3: Carve the Custom Cutting Board
Once the project is all set up, you’re pretty much ready to go!
Once your piece is secure, move the bit to the bottom left corner, and hit carve! This carve took 38 minutes to complete.
Oh my gosh, the machine is so fun to watch. I honestly just stand there watching it the whole time, kind of mesmerized. It’s amazing to me, too, because I built the x-carve by hand.
Today when I was dropping off my kids, their teacher (who follows my Instagram account) laughed that I always seem to doubt myself on Instagram Stories when I’m making my projects. She said, “Cynthia! You always seem so nervous and the projects end up being beautiful!”
For me, the learning curve is to just keep going. Take it one step at a time. I like to try ONE NEW THING each project I complete.
In this project, I carved using hardwood for the first time. I’d never carved on a hardwood before, only pine or MDF. And guess what? It wasn’t as hard or as intimidating as I’d thought. And the walnut is GORGEOUS. I’m definitely going to use it again.
Plus, and this might sound silly, walnut smells SO GOOD when you’re carving it. Like so so incredibly good.
When I started woodworking, I started using cheapie building grade pine that I bought at a big box store. And don’t get me wrong: there’s definitely a lot you can do with inexpensive materials. But I’ll tell you what: I totally get the appeal of using hardwoods now. The grain, the beauty, the … smell! LOL. I am officially hooked.
And now, I’m gonna try them all: walnut, cherry, ash, poplar, purpleheart, bobinga. (…And I’ve officially exhausted the list of hardwoods I know. Oh! And mahogany! I know that one, too!) So many new things to try now that I’m not so nervous to use new materials.
Step 4: Finish Your Cutting Board
To finish your personalized cutting board, you’ll need to do two things.
First, give her a light sanding with sandpaper. For this project, I used my Ryobi orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper. The board was already super smooth when I bought it. Essentially, I was just cleaning up the edges of the carve and rounding over the edges of the cutting board.
Second, apply a finishing oil to protect the wood. I love Walrus Finishing Oil in particular, and they’re cutting board oil is great for pieces that’ll be used for food (or toys since they end up going in kids’ mouths!)
Here are some shots of the finished custom cutting board. I hope you guys love it as much as I do!
What questions do you have for me? Ask them below or pop over to Instagram and ask a comment there! And if you try to make this project, be sure to tag me @cynthiamarkova so that I can see it and share it with everyone!