Anyone else a big fan of cheese boards? For me, anything that promises to carry MORE CHEESE is a great DIY idea. For this project, I wanted to carve two beautiful custom cheese boards to give as a gift for my sister’s birthday. Want to learn how to make your own custom cheese board? Then keep on reading!
How to Carve a DIY Beautiful Custom Cheese Board
Ah, my poor sister has been the recipient of my DIY projects for her birthdays ever since I was, like, four. She’s such a champ though, and she claims to love them. So this year, I thought I’d surprise her with something I knew she’d love – a custom cheese board that would look super cute when displayed on the counter.
This project took about an hour and cost less than ten bucks to make. Honestly, I paid more shipping the DIY cheese boards out to her.
These carving projects are so fun and awesome for DIYers getting into carving with an x-carve. I have lots of other awesome DIY carving projects too to check out for tons of inspiration. Okay, let’s dig into carving the cheese boards.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
For this project, you’ll want to wrangle up a few supplies before you get started. I used the following:
Materials Needed for Your Custom Cheese Board
- Wood – I used two pieces of hard maple that I bought at Rockler. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole carving with hardwoods ever since I carved this custom cutting board for my mother in law. The maple was relatively cheap and had an almost blush sheen to it when oiled at the end. So, so lovely.
- 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 60-degree v bit from Inventables. In the future, I’d use another bit, which I’ll talk more about down below.
- A design – I’ll explain more how I made mine further down.
- 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 2: Design Your Carve
For this carve, I wanted the design to feel simple and kinda feminine since that’s the style my sister prefers. I also wanted to keep a lot of the design around the edges of the custom cheese board since the wood will be holding lots and lots of CHEESE. (And crackers, etc.)
To design the file, I worked in Photoshop. I used a graphic that I found a long time ago on Design Bundles – I think I actually got it in one of their freebie packs.
I set my Photoshop file the size of my wood pieces, then used “file > place embedded” to insert each flower image. Then, on a separate layer, I used the rectangle tool to create a black rectangle around the project.
Lastly, I used the eraser tool to erase away the black rectangle from behind the flower.
Now, in order to upload the design to Easel, it needs to be an SVG out of Illustrator. I have NO IDEA why saving it as an SVG out of Photoshop doesn’t work. I opened the project in Illustrator, did an image trace, and exported as an SVG.
(And that just about taps the extent of my knowledge of Illustrator.)
Step 3: Model Your Carve in Easel
Once you have your design all set, it’s time to upload the file into Easel and model the carve. Uploading an SVG is easy. Go to “file > import SVG”.
I hit “edit > select all” and always resize the SVG the size I want. Then I hit “edit > center to material” to make sure it’s even.
For this project, I set up both designs as two different workpieces to keep the project organized.
Then I set my depth. Next time, I would keep the depth much more shallow – maybe 1/4 inch. Here’s how it looked once it’s imported and the depth set:
Also, it’s super important to hit “detailed carve” and see what it’ll look like to make sure you’re using the right bit. For this project, I used a 60-degree V bit from Inventables. In the future, I would use the 30-degree V-bit I bought from Amana Tools instead, which would be better for all these thin lines.
Also, for this project, I didn’t mess with the feed settings. Since then, I’ve gotten more comfortable adjusting the feed rate, depth per plunge, etc, which helps to speed the carve up enormously. Pop a comment below if reading more about that would be helpful to you.
Step 4: Clamp Down Your Wood + Zero Your Bit
Up next? Clamping down your piece and getting your axes ready.
I have a bunch of clamps from Inventables – they’re definitely worth it since I use them literally every project. I always square up my piece on my wasteboard using the black grid marks. And I clamp it down usually somewhere kind of in the center, not necessarily in the lower-left corner.
I use a z-probe to align my vertical axis, then eyeball my v-bit to align the x and y axes.
Step 5: Carve Your Custom Cheese Board
Then, carve! Honestly, this part never gets old. I love, love, love watching the x-carve do its thing. It’s so fun to see. This carve took about an hour for both custom cheese boards.
If I were to do this carve again, I’d probably adjust the settings for a deeper depth per pass, and I would carve shallower using a smaller bit. Live and learn! Every time I do one of these wood sign making projects, I learn something new. I think that’s all part of the journey.
Step 7: Sand + Finish
Once the project’s done carving, it’s important to finish it well. I used my little Ryobi sander to smooth out the carve and to smooth over the corners and edges. I like when my projects look a little worn and loved so I rarely ever leave crisp edges or corners.
Enjoy Your DIY Custom Cheese Board!
Here are some (okay a lot) of beauty shots of these pretty DIY cheese boards. I love them (and, yep, my sister did too!)
The funny thing about making these cheese boards and cutting boards, every time I give them, the recipients say they’ll hang them up as art because they’re too pretty to use! LOL, that’s a good problem to have, I guess.
So tell me, what questions do you have about carving your own custom cheese board? Pop a comment below and I’d love to get back to you.
And as always, lots of love from my house to yours,