Oct 27, 2016

How to: Make an Easy DIY Wood Slice Serving Board

created at: 02/25/2014

Sometimes, the best DIY projects are also the simplest. This rustic cheese board takes less than an hour to whip up, and costs less than $10.00 in materials. Plus, it's easy to create even if you don't have access to a huge forest or wood pile, and doesn't require a chainsaw or any fancy power tools.  

Let's make one!   

Tools and Materials: 

  • Wood slice - we used a basswood round from the craft store
  • Stiff brush
  • Sandpaper - 150 and 220 grits
  • Mineral oil or butcher block oil

created at: 02/25/2014

1. The key to this project is finding the appropriately sized wooden slice. If you have access to large hardwood stumps or limbs that have been dried or seasoned, they'd be perfect. If not, you can find basswood slices in the unfinished wood section of the craft/art supply store, or easily on Amazon. Once you've procured your slice, it's just about prepping it for food use.


created at: 02/25/2014

2. Begin by using a stiff-bristled brush to clean the bark. Make sure to remove any moss or lichen, as well as any loose bark or debris that will fall off easily and could mix with comestibles. If you have access to compressed air, give the bark a few blasts to really get rid of any dirt. 


created at: 02/25/2014

3. Then, sand both sides throughly with 150 grit then 220 grit paper. A powered sander is helpful here, but a simple hand sanding block works just as well. Be sure to keep the sandpaper flat against the surface so as to avoid rounding over the edges or interfering with the bark. 


created at: 02/25/2014

4. Lastly, finish the slice with mineral oil or butcher block conditioner. Since basswood is a relatively soft wood and you're applying to the end grain, it'll will soak up a lot of finish. End grain is basically a bunch of little straws all lined up, and they'll happily accept as much liquid as they can get. 

To apply, simply flood the mineral oil onto a side, and wipe with a clean rag to distribute. You may see a bit of blotchiness at the beginning, but that will subside as the wood becomes fully saturated.  After 30 minutes or so, repeat with a second coat. Allow the finish to soak in overnight, and then add a third and fourth coat if necessary. 


created at: 02/25/2014

Once the finish has fully dried, your wood slice board is ready to use. It's important to note that this really isn't a cutting board or butcher block. Basswood is a relatively soft wood (it's easy to carve, which is why they sell it at the craft store), so don't go hacking at a chicken carcass with a super sharp clever. But, since it's exposed end grain, and wood is naturally self-healing, most light scuffs will be invisible with a fresh coat of mineral oil. Plus, I kinda like a bit of knife wear-and-tear; it gives the piece a more rustic, worn-in look with plenty of character.


created at: 02/25/2014

The project's round shape and light weight makes it perfect for serving charcuterie, cheese, and other staples. Or, it'll work great for other dry foods like desserts, cured meats and fish, or small bowls of pickles and sauces. I've been using mine in our bar area for assembling cocktails, cutting citrus, etc. 



created at: 02/25/2014

These basswood slices cost less than $15.00, and you can always find a 40-50% coupon for all the major craft stores at their web site or mobile app. So, $7.00 in materials plus a little sandpaper, some mineral oil, and about an hour of work. 

Enjoy! If you make one, we'd love to see it. Share a photo of your project in the comments below or mention @ManMadeDIY on Instagram or Twitter. 



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Terri on Jun 16, 2020:

Did the tree ring ever crack after putting the mineral oil on it?

Karen Forguson on Apr 19, 2020:

Hello! My son is making a board but we are stranded in Northern Canada! Can I use olive oil instead of mineral oil?

Thank you!

Paul Brundage on Jan 24, 2018:

I used a wood slice to make a chess board back in the 1970s. I still have it and it still looks great.

Pam on Dec 07, 2016:

Love this idea. A while ago I found some slices the right size to work as trivets for a 12" dutch oven. It made a great gift for my husband who loves to cook with his ovens (and saved my tablecloths!). Thanks for the tips on how to finish one like this, I want to make one to cut bread etc. on to match.

Vanessa on Dec 08, 2015:

Thank you so much for this post! So simply and easy to understand! Plus you just saved me like $40! 😃

Alice on Nov 03, 2015:


Do you know where I can buy pre cut wood slices here in australia?


Chris on Oct 26, 2015:

@Erin - Sure! Give it a shot.

Erin on Oct 20, 2015:

Do you think birch would work?

Chris on Oct 03, 2015:

@Jessica and J Hood - There's no need to treat the bark with anything. Oiling it, unless the bark is very tight and not crumbly, will just make it messy, and any sort of clearcoat will just get beat up with knife use, etc.

If the bark is falling off, you could use a yellow wood glue to reattach it. Titebond is considered "FDA Approved for indirect food contact, so it shouldn't cause too many troubles. Gorilla glue also claims to be FDA approved, so check the labels for the best option.

J Hood on Oct 02, 2015:

Can anyone suggest what should be done, if anything, to the bark besides cleaning it with a stiff brush?  Should it be oiled or painted with a clear shellac? 

Jessica on Jul 19, 2015:

Do you have any tips about preserving the bark on the slab. The slabs I have cut are rather large and old, I wanted to preserve the remaining bark as best I could. Are there any guidelines or tips to preserving the bark on the board with prehaps a solution or adhesive thats safe for food? 

Diana on Apr 30, 2015:

Just started this little project for my two best friends' college graduation! Excited for how it'll turn out! But instead of any oil, I used what supplies I had, polyurethane, to seal it. Is it still safe to use for cheese, crackers, meats, etc..? Also do you think I'll need to do more than two coats?

BTW- polyurethane comes off skin with olive oil

Thanks and glad I could find this!

Negi on Apr 06, 2015:

What kind of oil do you use ? I'm not really know that mineral oil...

Fred on Feb 17, 2015:

Can you use a different wood. I live in the north east can I use any wood from or trees up here.

Jared on Oct 08, 2014:

Love this idea. Did you do anything to seal the bark on the outside?

Chris on Jun 02, 2014:

@Tracy - You can just wipe clean with water. No need to use soap - wood is naturally antiseptic. If you need to, you can wipe with white vinegar to kill germs every few months. Reapply oil as neceesary.

Good luck!

Tracy on Jun 02, 2014:

Thanks for the reply Bruno, how should I clean the board after using it?

bruno on Jun 02, 2014:

@Tracy - If the board still feels tacky or greasy, just wipe or soak up the excess mineral oil with a clean rag. It simply means you applied more oil than the board could soak up. It'll continue to dry and neutralize after you've removed the excess and exposed the surface to air. 

Share a photo of your project when you have a sec. We'd love to see how it turned out!

Tracy on May 30, 2014:


Love This! I have followed your wonderful directions (about a week ago) and there is still an oil residue on the cutting board. Is this normail? I'm not sure as I've never used a cutting board like this before.

DIY Answer Man on Feb 26, 2014:

This is great for the ones that like to bring the rustic outdoors life into their kitchen.  Great idea.  I like it.