We thought we'd post a tutorial on how we make our mahogany cutting/presentation boards. What started as a project to create "teacher gifts" for our kids to give at school became a small line of high-end boards called All A'Board sold at a small number of specialty shops like Lula's Pantry and The Cave. We'll start with a before and after shot (this is the same piece of wood - no bait-n-switch shananigans here)

As you can see, the board has seen some serious use. This is actually the same wood we used to side our shed shown in the ABOUT US section of this site.

First we cut the board down to get rid of the rough end (on the right) and the old holes from the original decking nails (on the left).

Next up we sand off all the old stain with 60 grit sandpaper (Olive has made quite a few of these boards) - then follow up and sand again with 120 and then again with 220 grit to give the board a nice smooth finish. 

At this point we usually use a router to round over all the edges of the board (much faster and more uniform when you're making a large number of them) but you definitely don't have to have a router to get through this step - for this tutorial we've kept it simple and used the sander to take off all the sharp edges and round over all the corners.

Next up we need to drill out a couple 1/4 inch holes for the handle. We don't have a drill press so we just do this by hand. You need to be careful to drill straight down in order to avoid blowing out the side of the board and ruining it (that's happened to us a couple times) but if you're careful it's pretty easy to keep things fairly straight. We've got a piece of tape on the bit that helps us make sure the holes are always the same depth - about 1.25 inches.

For our handles we use leather rope that is manufactered to be used as a drive belt for old industrial sewing machines. We found an old roll of it a while back and bought it without knowing what we would use it for - it's just really beautiful stuff. Turns out to fit perfectly in a 1/4 inch hole and looks great with the mahogany. For this tyoe of handle we've found that a 7 inch piece works well. A pair of wire cutters works well for cutting the leather and if you cut it at a slight angle it's easier to get it into the holes on the cutting board.

Before we install the handle we need to oil the board. We use Boos Mystery Oil. If you don't have a specific oil like we're using you can check out what other oils are safe to use here. This is where the board really starts to look like a finished product - the color of the wood completely changes. 

Now that the board is oiled we can slide the leather handle down into the holes. You need to make sure that you push the leather all the way in to the bottom of the hole to make sure that our anchor screw hits it.

To finish things off we drill a pilot hole through the side of the board so that our anchor screw will go through both ends of the leather handle. For this I'm using whats called a Drill Flip Drive Unit. Mine is a Dewalt but there are a couple different brands that make them. It allows for the drilling of a pilot hole which is important because it keeps the board from splitting when we put the anchor screw in and it also predrilles an indentation that allows the head of the screw to sit flush with the side of the board. You can then just flip the attachment around to drive the screw in. Its one of the most used tool accessories in our shop and well worth picking up.

We've been using these star head stainless steel deck fasteners that we picked up a Home Depot. Anything stainless will work (inportant so that it wont rust) but we really like the added detail of the star shape on the head of the screw. One thing to be careful of when putting in the screw is that over tightening can split out the wood on the side of the board as its fairly thin. We often put the screw in almost all the way with a drill and then screw it all the way down by hand.

There you have it - a beautiful cutting/presentation board made out of a recycled piece of decking. Now throw a piece of cheese and some fruit on that thing and spend some time with friends. (Or you could carve a couple animals out of a carrot if you've got the skills.)

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