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A couple weeks back Dan and I took on a simple DIY project to learn how to make a cutting board. This DIY cutting board is a great gift or just a useful staple in your home. As a bonus, are you wondering how to make a cheese platter that will totally impress your guests? We’ve got you covered with our cheese board basics!
As always, I got a bee in my bonnet a couple of weeks ago. It was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and I planned to make 4 pies for our family dinner. Me, being me, was not satisfied with serving them in the dish they were baked in. (Honestly, there is noooothing wrong with that, for the record). I wanted my pies to have a rustic and homemade feel. I mean, that’s just what they were, after all! To achieve this feel I thought that serving them on cutting boards would be the most authentic. However, I didn’t have 4 cutting boards and I certainly didn’t want to go out and spend the big bucks on 4 nice ones. So naturally, I woke Dan up (sorry Dan) and dragged him to the lumber yard. We were going to do a DIY cutting board…
So, my first question was ‘uh…how do you even make one of these things?’. Well Guys, turns out that making a DIY cutting board is pretty darn easy. This DIY cutting board can be made with the use of just a few tools and one prett-ay piece of wood. I’m going to go into all the nitty gritty details of how to make a cutting board below and I hope that we can inspire you to make one too!
(yes, I am serious…that’s all you need)
This is the fun part! There are many so types of wood that you can choose from. You will want to consider the colour and grain. We selected a curly maple because it has a really neat grain that I knew would show up especially well once the cutting board was sanded and oiled. Select a wood that has a minimum width of 12″. This will ensure that your cutting board is large enough to use. I chose a wood with a thickness of 1.5″ which I love because the cutting board has a really heavy feel in the end. If in question about which wood will work, definitely ask for help at the lumber yard – they know this stuff!
NOTE** In order to get your cutting board smooth you will need to use a palm sander. A sanding block and good ol’ elbow grease will not be enough here. In some cases, depending on how rough your wood is, you may even need to use a planer. If you do not have access to a planer, I suggest selecting a wood that isn’t TOO rough. We used a palm sander only on ours. In the end there was a bit of a ripple effect on the wood that could have been eliminated with a planer. However, the overall feel is very smooth and the ripples are not actually noticeable in person – just in photos.
If you do not have a saw at home, most lumber yards will make cuts for you for a small fee (~$1 a cut). I made 4 cuttings boards; each one different. Adding a handle to the cutting board is a fun addition but it is a bit more of a challenge from a cutting perspective. I was lucky enough that there was a carpenter working at my house that day and he helped me out. Good timing, eh?! However, if you or the person who will be doing the cuts does not have the tools to do the handle cuts then sticking with a rectangular cutting board is just fine!
The cutting boards I made ranged in length from 11″ to 16″. Based on your needs you can determine the best size for your cutting board. If you have purchased more length of wood than necessary, try to plan your cuts so that the cutting boards will show off your wood grain as best as possible. In my case, there was a cool edge on my board so I made sure that it was featured on a couple of the boards I made.
This is the part that made the biggest difference. The cutting board actually started to look like something you would want to use! We used a palm sander. If you do not own one, many hardware stores rent them out for a day or a weekend at a very reasonable price.
We sanded our boards until they felt really smooth and slightly rounded out the corners and edges. This took about 10 minutes for each side with a palm sander. We started with 80 grit sandpaper, moved up to 150 and finished it off with 220 for a super soft finish.
The final step is to oil and seal your wood. It is important that the sealant you select be food safe. I used a mixture that I made with beeswax and olive oil in a 1:3 ratio, respectively. To make the sealant I used a double boiler method to melt the bees wax and added in the olive oil once the beeswax was melted. This mixture hardens quite quickly so make it just before you wish to use it. I used this mixture to seal the cutting board a few times before using it. As always, the big ol internet is a great resource for selecting which sealant to use! There are lots of food safe oils that can be used to seal cutting boards.
Now that you’ve made this beautiful DIY cutting board we might as well put it to use, right?! These cutting boards also make awesome cheese boards. That is actually what I ended up using them for first (before the pies even!). With the Holidays just around the corner, it is entertaining high season. I love having people over and making cocktails (lots of those to come!) and serving up snacks.
Ever since I was young, bread and cheese was a staple in my family. My parents spent time in France when they were younger and definitely brought that cheese loving culture home. If you’re wondering how to make a cheese platter that is bound to impress your guests look no further!
Most important is to make sure that you have a well rounded selection of cheeses. I usually try to have at least one of the following: a hard cheese, a soft cheese, a rind cheese, and a blue cheese.
Some of my favourite hard cheeses are: cheddar, gruyere, swiss, and gouda. I find that a smoked cheese such as a smoked cheddar or a smoked gouda is always a big crowd pleaser as is a sharp aged cheddar like a Balderson. Swiss and gruyere tend to be more mild which suits some but personally I find them a little boring.
In the soft cheese category, consider things like cream cheese, goat cheese, cheese balls, or a cheese like Balderson. These are always a favourite so if you are looking to add one more cheese to your board, go for another soft. I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like Balderson – my nieces and nephews especially go crazy over it!
A rind cheese (which I’m sure has a better/more technical name than that?!) is something like a brie or camembert – the creamier the better here! Finally, a blue cheese. In my crowd this is not a typical favourite but there are usually a few people who like it so it’s worth getting one! Similar to a blue cheese is Stilton which can come in lovely flavours like cranberry. Guys, can you tell I really like cheese plates yet?!?
So obviously, the bread or crackers are the next piece in this cheese platter puzzle. I like to have: a baguette, a traditional cracker, a gluten free cracker. Within those categories you can certainly go for different flavours and if you are doing a large cheese board you may even consider extra things such as bread sticks or flat breads. If you’re looking to make something yourself, these homemade pita chips are delicious and the perfect addition!
This is my favourite part of any cheese platter. Pickles and preserves! I’m talking olives, capers, pickles, pickled onions etc. A dollup of grainy dijon will finish this section off perfectly. I always put these pickled items in small bowls so they stay separate from the cheese and crackers.
Finally, it is nice to also have a few dips in case some of your guests are not fans of cheese. Hummus, spinach dip, tzatziki, or baba ganoush are all great options. If you are going to do a few dips I suggest at least 2 that are dairy free, just to cover all your dietary bases. If you would like to go all out and make hummus from scratch, this post has a delicious recipe for roasted red pepper hummus and black olive hummus . So easy to make!
The final step in ‘how to make a cheese platter to impress’ is plating it all up! If you can’t fit everything onto your cheese board, put just the cheese on the board and bowls of dips, crackers, veggies, picked items etc. off to the side. Finally, some nice cheese knifes and napkins will finish this off beautifully.
As you know, I am all about beautiful kitchen accessories. If you’re looking for great cheese knives, napkins, serving plates or more this Holiday Season I recommend taking a look at some of my favourite shops:
Anthropologie for quirky, cute, and colourful kitchen accessories
Target for super reasonably priced and trendy items
The Bay for function and flare
Williams and Sonoma for high quality pieces you will use for years to come
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