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The Cheeseboard in Three Steps

posted by Matt Pierce on February 27, 2013


There's practically no steps to this. I feel almost silly even writing it, but there's some small knowledge here that can make a big difference if you make one, and that's why I'm gonna be talking about it. The key is in the sanding.

First of all, why the hell didn't I have a cheeseboard until now? I love cheese! I've been cutting the stuff on plates and that's just dumb. I've broken plates this way and certainly dulled my knives. The best thing to cut on while look like a classy son-of-a-gun in the process is definitely real wood.

I'm using Walnut because it's super sexy, but also is really good to work with and will give a great finish. Step one is obviously to just cut your board. I'm gonna use a live edge because I have access to great pieces of wood, but you can make a fancy shape, leave it square, or anything really. Whatever your shape, I say simpler the better, because the faster you're done, the quicker you can load it up with cheese and meats.

After the shape is established, it's time for the un-fun and necessary... lots of sanding. Don't skimp on this part, and don't think you can get away with one grit and make it nice. You really have to step down with the grit, and this will make not only a better product, but it'll go faster too. If your board is relatively smooth from a planer, then start with about a 80 grit on an orbital sander. After you have sufficiently smoothed out any major imperfections, it's time to change the grit. Next hit it with some 120, then 220, then 320, and if you're really going for that silky feel – 400 with a hand block sanding in the direction of the grain. At this point, the bare wood will be so smooth you won't want to stop touching it.

Next blow the dust off with a compressor or use a tack cloth to get the dust off. If you're sanding furniture, I like a little dust in my finish to fill the grain... But we're going to oil this piece to make if food safe, and I don't want any dust in my cheese.

Apply some mineral oil to the wood with a soft cloth and then remove any excess with another cloth. You can apply a few coats, making sure it soaks into the wood plenty. After a cure period of a couple days, you're ready to use it. You can reapply oil every once-in-a-while to keep it looking good... and if you're doing tons of cutting, you can always re-sand to get it back to the original condition.

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Comments

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Olympic Provisions Sopressata. Pretty damn good.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Definitely check out Goby Walnut.

Sravi on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Looks awesome! Do you have any recommendations on where to get some choice pieces of wood in the Portland area?

Daniel on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

I’ve got to try this! What kind of sausage is that? It looks so good! Thanks.

Jessica on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Beautiful! I love that you left the live edge, very classy!

Daniel on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Thanks! Don’t live anywhere near them but it looks like I can order it. Keep up the work. I love all your stuff.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Thanks, that’s a Case Mini Copperlock.

noah on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Love the knife! Where is it from?

Sravi on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Awesome—thanks!

Jenny Depa on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

I have a two dairy goats that will be kidding soon and so I will begin cheesemaking again. I l.o.v.e. cheese boards too and would like to make a few…huge thanks for the how-to tips!!

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

You can get mineral oil at most any hardware store and drug store, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a table top. It’s too soft for any super table protection.

Chris on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Great looking pieces. Have you thought about a coat or two of mineral oil, then a final coat or two of butcher block oil? It has beeswax in it, which should help protect the wood and give it a nice finish.

I have to find a good source of walnut around here in Maine!

Sofija on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hey, it all look lovely!!! I’m wondering this mineral oil you applied on the board, where can I get it or what is its speciality that you used this? I’m thinking to use it on the top of my dining table after sanding it. Thanks :)

Tony M.L. on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

I love this kind of cheese boards, thanks for the tips!

Funny, I’m from Barcelona (Spain) and that kind of sausage that appears almost identical to a typical sausage here called “fuet”, but I see that Olympic Provisions several Spanish sausage types: spanish salami, chorizo ​​rioja, chorizo andalucia … If your taste is similar to the original, I highly recommend them!

Thank you again! I look forward to your next post ….

Gel on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

I just happened to come across your site. What a gem!

I didn’t know it was so easy to make a chesse /cutting board. Wait, are they both the same? Well, anyway, I’ll do this activity with my children. Thanks

joe pimenta on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

regarding this cheeseboard after you apply the oil on it do you apply any varnish ? for that shiny look or can you ?

Alison on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

This is one of the coolest ideas I’ve found in a long time. Thanks for the guidelines. I need more tools and some wood! :)

Sravi on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Went to Goby and made a nice board—thanks again!

simon james on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

hi – these cheese boards are amazing! I would like to make some as gifts. do you know of any place to buy nice pieces of walnut near Los Angeles Ca? much appreciated

simon

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hi Jim. You can epoxy any loose bark, since you’re not going to be cutting food or chewing on that area! Then I’d just use food safe oils on the area that you’ll actually be placing and cutting food.

jim on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Can you do something to keep the bark on edges and then put on a food safe finish? I have some great pieces of lumber that are live edge esquite and will look wonderful, but want to keep the bark and still have a food safe surface. any suggestions? anyone else in the comments is free to reply. my email is jbs550@me.com.

As always, as an amateur woodworker, who has a daytime job (unfortunately) I am always looking for help.

MMP on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hi Joe, I wouldn’t use varnish, since it’s not food safe. Skip the oil and try searching for ‘salad bowl finish’ and that will be a harder, more shiny finish but still safe for food service.

Matt Pierce on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Here’s some ways – http://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/articles/5-ways-to-clean-a-wooden-cutting-board.html

Jennifer on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

How can this be sanitized/washed after use?

Matt Pierce on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hi Ryan, you might try a harder finish? I clean mine and they get rough and I just keep cutting on them. They’ll never stay perfectly smooth after you touch water too them.

Ryan C on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hi. I recently started making my own cutting boards. Boards finished to 300 grit and sealed with mineral oil and bees wax mix. After using and wiping clean I noticed the surface texture becomes much rougher and never returns to that original finish smoothness. Should I use a different finish or did I not clean the boards enough after sanding? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Matt Pierce on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Thanks Simon. I don’t know of any LA places for walnut, but I do know Goby in Portland sells some boards online. Maybe check the forums at lumberjocks.com?

Matt Pierce on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Yeah, let the board dry overnight first. The grain will raise some, but that’s the nature of wood.

Anne on November 14 2014 at 10:23AM

Hi ! I really like how your cheese boards came out. :) I wanted to ask if you needed to dry the
wood before applying oil. Thanks so much :)

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