what tools do you need to make a cutting board

Top 12 Tools You Need To Make A Cutting Board

Making a cutting board is fairly easy as long as you have the right tools and supplies.

So, what tools do you need to make a cutting board?

Here are the top 12 tools for cutting board:

  1. Jointer or Hand Plane
  2. Table Saw or Hand Saw
  3. Thickness Planer
  4. Fixed or Plunge Router
  5. Orbit or Belt Sander
  6. Clamps
  7. Router or Chamfer Bits
  8. Earplugs
  9. Safety Goggles
  10. Dust or Face Mask
  11. Sandpaper
  12. Wood Conditioner

Like with any DIY project, a person doesn’t always have all the necessary tools on hand. So aside from buying new, you can always buy used, rent, or borrow to save money.

If we were to pick the five essential tools we would like in the shop when making wooden cutting boards, these would be it: (The following links go to Amazon; click them to view the current pricing of the tools)

  1. A jointer, or you could also use an electric hand planer.
  2. A table saw, or hand saw.
  3. A thickness planer.
  4. A fixed router, or you could use a plunge router. See the differences on routers in our article here.
  5. An orbit or belt sander.

Now, let’s explore each tool individually and some of the other supplies needed.

We will also briefly touch on the best types of wood to use and the best wood finishes available online. 

Let’s dive in!

Tools Needed To Build Cutting Boards (Explained)

Let’s begin by listing the necessary tools and other miscellaneous supplies needed for making a wooden cutting board. These include the following:

Jointer or Hand Plane

A good cutting board is one without gaps between the wood. Therefore, you will need to mill or plane the squares on all sides. To do this, you need either a jointer or a hand plane. 

A jointer works great and saves time.

Its smooth plane will mill a board perfectly flat while the perpendicular fence nicely squares up the adjacent face.

If the blade is relatively new and sharp, it will provide a ‘smooth as glass’ surface ready to glue.

Table Saw or Hand Saw

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Making a cutting board requires several strips of wood. The best (and easiest) way to do this is to use a table saw.

A hand saw will work, too, but it will take more time and have less precision.

Hand-sawing hardwoods (such as maple or walnut) can be pretty tiring; therefore, consider investing in a table saw if you don’t have one already. 

You can also refer to our guide on the best saw for woodcrafts to learn more about different types of saws.

Thickness Planer

A thickness planer not only reduces the diameter of a board but also parallels the two opposite faces of it.

After gluing the wood strips, you may find that the pieces are not even.

A run through the thickness planer will make irregular boards flat, smooth, and even.

Fixed Router or Plunge Router

A router is only necessary to round or shape the edges to make it fancier. A plunge router can create detail or design within or around the board.

Using the router with the chamfering bit will smooth out the edges so they aren’t rough to the touch.

Belt or Orbit Sander

It is necessary to sand the entire board (top and bottom) with either a belt or orbit sander using 100-grit first, followed by 220-grit sandpaper. The board must be smooth, not ragged, to provide a more water-resistant surface. Sandpaper alone is not enough.

Do you cut a lot of shapes out of wood? Check out our blog post on saws for cutting shapes out of wood, and if you love new projects, don’t forget to check out our unique, downloadable woodcraft patterns here.

Additional Cutting Board Equipment and Supplies

To make a cutting board, other supplies are needed (besides the main power tools). These include the following:


Clamps are needed to put all the strips of wood together and hold them in place to glue them together. Speaking of glues, be sure to check out this guide on the strongest glue for wood.

Router or Chamfer Bits

Router (and chamfer) bits are required to cut the wood into stripes and decorate the edges of the surface.

Ear Plugs

Anytime you work with power tools such as a table saw or orbit sander, you should always protect your ears from the high decibel (or noise exposure) levels.

Safety Goggles or Face Shield

Safety goggles or a face shield should protect your eyes and face anytime you work with a power or hand saw. 

Dust Mask 

A dust mask is vital when working with saws or sanders to avoid inhaling tiny dust particles and other allergens that can harm your health. 

Shop Vac

A shop vac is great for cleaning up afterward, especially when sawing or sanding wood. If you don’t have one, you can use a standard vacuum or a broom and dustpan.

Sand Paper

Sandpaper in both 100-grit and 220-grit is needed to smooth the cutting board, especially in areas that are difficult to do with an electric sander, including the corners and edges.

Work Gloves

Work gloves can be used for parts of the process such as assembling, clamping, gluing, or milling the board.

Do not use them when operating a table saw, only when changing the blade. Gloves cause you to lose your sense of touch and gripping power, resulting in a lost limb if the blade catches onto them.

Wood Conditioner

Apply several coats of wood conditioner or oil on the cutting board to seal the wood and protect it from damage. For this, you will also need a paintbrush or rag.

Allow the product to penetrate for 5 to 15 minutes, and then remove the excess with a clean, dry cloth.

Now, let’s explain the difference between an edge grain and an end grain cutting board.

What is the Difference between an Edge Grain and an End Grain Cutting Board?

An edge grain cutting board is made from parallel pieces of wood that are fused together.

It is known for its durability and affordability; however, it can dull knives faster than end grain boards.

Prolonged use will damage the board’s aesthetic, and cuts or scratches will be visible.

An end grain cutting board is made from end pieces of wood that form a checkerboard pattern.

It is usually more expensive than edge grain boards, but it is better for knives and is “self-healing”. This means that the wood fibers will close up after being cut with a knife.

The tools and supplies needed to make both boards are basically the same.

What is the Best Wood for a Cutting Board?

Now that we have outlined the tools and supplies needed to make a cutting board let’s go over the best types of wood to use.

Both end and edge grain cutting boards are generally made from dense, fine-grained hardwoods instead of softwoods. The reason is that softwoods can crack or split over time from the motion of the knife cutting across the surface.

The best woods to use include birch, cherry, oak, (hard) maple, pine, and walnut. If possible, choose wood that has been pre-cut between 2 and ½ and 3 and ½ inches thick. This will prevent the wood from splitting or warping.

Speaking of wood types, have you ever wondered about the difference between Mahogany and Walnut? Check out the guide to learn more.

What is the Best Wood Finish for a Cutting Board?

When finishing a wood cutting board, be sure to use non-toxic products, as the board will come into direct contact with food.

The best finishes include wood conditioning varieties such as Danish or linseed oil, coconut oil, mineral oil, walnut oil, beeswax, Carnuba wax, or shellac.

Check online retailers (for the most popular yet cost-effective choices), such as Amazon.

One great product (which we reviewed in a previous article entitled Danish Oil on Pine) includes Tried and True Danish Oil.

Another great option is All Natural Wood Finishing Wax by Virginia Boys.


Before starting, I always like to prepare everything before construction, which helps streamline the building process.

Gathering all of your tools and supplies and cleaning your work area before starting will definitely save you time (and money), which is important, especially if you plan on building and selling any of these for cash.

Making a cutting board is fairly easy with a little advanced studying, preparation, a little know-how, and, of course, the right tools and supplies. 

Good luck with your next DIY project! Stay tuned for other great woodworking ideas in articles to come!

Cutting Board Featured images Courtesy of Curtis Frank, Madison, WI

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