A great cutting board gluing jig just in time for the Christmas rush!

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Project by Holzarbeiterin posted 11-26-2014 08:52 AM 17930 views 88 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Making a cutting board is a fairly straight forward project. The only part that can provide some tense moments and possible frustration is during the glue-up phase when the narrow wood strips develop a mind of their own and refuse to cooperate during the clamping process. After making a couple cutting boards I wanted to find a way to do the final glue-up in one step and ensure the process is efficient and stress-free. After a bit of thinking I came up with the idea replacing the clamps with wedges placed in a sturdy frame to provide the clamping force. On the first jig I built a several years ago I used a plywood base with a Formica laminate top to keep glue and the cutting board from sticking to the jig. The laminate worked pretty well at first but I began to have trouble with the cutting boards sticking to the base. It only took a slight whack or two with a hammer to loosen things which isn’t a big deal but I still had to remove the dried glue on the jig afterward. I noticed that after I had scraped the dried glue off the Formica a couple of times that I ended up removing some of the slick surface. This lead to more sticking and more scraping. It was a vicious circle. A liberal coating of paste wax on the jig solved the problem (as long as I remembered to apply it) but I still thought there had to be a better way…

This is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

Overview and Features
  • Overall size: 18” x 24” x 3” excluding the height of knobs and bolts.
  • Capacity: Fully adjustable and capable of making cutting boards up to about 16” x 16” x 1-3/4” but can be built to other sizes to meet personal requirements.
  • Adjustability: Multiple holes in side rail for adjusting the t-track bolts to accommodate varying sizes of cutting boards
  • Consistency: The jig ensures all wood strips remain flat and square during the glue-up.
  • Ease of use: No need for lots of clamps in various sizes to get the job done. Two wedges and (optional) spacers make it easily adjustable and a snap to apply the right amount of clamping pressure.

A closer look at the design

  • ¾” Plywood base for strength (I like to use Baltic Birch)
  • 5/16” bolts to handle the clamping pressures that will stress the jig
  • ½” Cutting board material on the base and “Slick Strip” on side rail for years of non-stick gluing. The cutting board material also helps ensure the side rail is square to the lower rail so cutting boards are square.
  • T-track recessed into the base for adjusting the position of the side rail
  • Side rail has multiple holes for positioning the t-bolts as needed for unlimited size adjustability
  • Beefy wedges (and optional spacers) to provide excellent clamping pressure evenly across the entire width and thickness of the cutting board. The length of the wedges allow them to be stored “inside” the jig when the jig is not in use.

Details that help ensure the glue-up is square and flat

  • Chamfered top edge on the cutting board material ensures the wood strips seat nicely against the side rail. The side rail also rides along the edge to keep the cutting board square.
  • The gap between the bottom rail and the side rail ensures the first strip is properly seated into the corner to help keep everything square. There is a “slick strip” on the side rail to prevent glue squeeze out from sticking.

How to use the jigI know you probably don’t need this explanation but if I am anything, it’s thorough! :)

After the final cutting board strip is in the jig, adjust the side rail so it barely catches on the wood strip. When positioning the wedges in jig, the wedge that will be against the cutting board strip should have the narrow end of the wedge on the left (side rail side). When this wedge is tapped to compress the wood strips it will force the strip into the side rail so nothing slips out of place and everything stays square. I used 5/8” strips in the jig for the photos if your strip are thinner you might have to adjust the side rail as you tap the wedges in tight.

Material List – Wood and sheet goods

Jig Base – 1 each – 18” x 24” x ¾” Plywood – I like to use Baltic birch plywood but you could use regular plywood to save money for the awesome wood you will use to make a cutting board!

Bottom Rail – 1 each – 15¾” x 2” x 2¼” Hardwood (1)

Top Rail – 1 each – 18” x 2” x 2¼” Hardwood (1)

Side Rail – 1 each – 22” x 2” x 2¼” Hardwood (1)

Clamping Wedges – 1 each – 19⅞” x 4⅛ x 1½” Hardwood (makes 2 wedges)

Clamping Spacers – 2 each – 19⅞” x 3×1½” Hardwood (your needs might be different. Adjust as needed)

Glue-up Base – 1 each – 19⅞” x 16 x ½” Cutting board material (Woodcraft SKU 153019)

  • I glued up layers of ¾” Baltic birch plywood for the rails because I had small pieces left over from a previous project and they work great

Materials List – Hardware

Kreg Mini-Track – 24” – 1 Each – I prefer the Kreg track for this project because it’s only ⅜” high. That leaves enough material after cutting the dado to properly screw it into the base. (Woodcraft SKU 149081)

Woodpeckers Plastic Knob Kit – 1 Pkg – Buying the kit was cheaper than buying the parts separately and I even had some left over for another project. (Woodcraft SKU 147918)

#6 x ½” square drive, flat head wood screws – 6 Each – The square drive screws drive better than Phillips head especially when you try to start them inside the T-track. You’re also less likely to strip it out. (Woodcraft SKU 612100)

#8×1” Drawer front screws – 20 Each – You could use separate screws and washers but I had some left over from a previous furniture project. (Woodcraft SKU 617101)

“Slick Strip” Tape 22” x 2¼ – 1 Each – Comes on a 3” wide roll. Woodcraft SKU 16L65)

5/16” x 18 TPI x 3” Hex bolts – 9 Each

5/16” Nuts – 9 – Each

⅜” ID Flat Washers – 18 Each

-- Linda - It's only a mistake if you do it twice!

20 comments so far

View JeremyT21's profile


58 posts in 887 days

#1 posted 11-26-2014 12:48 PM

Took me a minute to understand how it works, but I definitely need one of these. No matter how careful I am when gluing up my cutting boards, it is always a nightmare.


View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5106 posts in 2616 days

#2 posted 11-26-2014 01:40 PM

Pretty slick idea…..If a person was going to be making a “run” of boards for production, I can see where the jig would really pay off…..

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1773 days

#3 posted 11-26-2014 04:37 PM

Great jig, I may borrow some of these ideas.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View NJBirdman's profile


35 posts in 1493 days

#4 posted 11-26-2014 06:00 PM

Awesome idea man, gonna steal it!

-- --Denver-- Any society that will give up a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

View SgtRich's profile


43 posts in 1233 days

#5 posted 11-26-2014 09:03 PM

I have made a few cutting boards, and have thought the same “there must be a better way” and you found it. Fantastic idea and I plan to replicate it.

-- Every day in another opportunity to create something great.

View MT_Stringer's profile


2820 posts in 2653 days

#6 posted 11-26-2014 09:12 PM

That looks really nice and useful. Thanks for sharing.
It just so happens that I have a large plastic cutting board. Now I know what to do with it. :-)


-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View EWJSMITH's profile


150 posts in 3248 days

#7 posted 11-26-2014 10:48 PM

Great jig! I too might have to borrow some of this :-) Thanks!

View smallsplinters's profile


5 posts in 849 days

#8 posted 11-27-2014 12:09 AM

I think that looks like one of mine?


View Holzarbeiterin's profile


67 posts in 703 days

#9 posted 11-27-2014 06:08 AM

Hi Patrick!

If you are talking about the cutting board in the jig you are right! Thanks. After I made the jig you let me use your pieces so I could take some photos of the jig for a submission to Wood Magazine. They didn’t think the project was worthy of the magazine but my fellow Lumber Jocks seem to like it. :-)

Hope you are doing well.


-- Linda - It's only a mistake if you do it twice!

View Rick's profile


8287 posts in 2454 days

#10 posted 11-28-2014 04:42 AM

Very nice indeed Linda! Well done! Thanks for Posting.


-- Hope Everyone Is Doing Well! .... Best Regards: Rick

View SJThrasher's profile


10 posts in 712 days

#11 posted 12-11-2014 03:57 PM

That is a great glue-up idea. It took just a second to notice the wedge ends used for applying force. Do you ever have issues with these slipping?

View Holzarbeiterin's profile


67 posts in 703 days

#12 posted 12-11-2014 09:08 PM

Thanks for the question. No, I have never had a problem with the wedges slipping. My technique is to tap both wedges at the same time for the first hit or two as the strips get their initial compression. After that I tap the wedge that is directly against the final cutting board strip. Then, when I do the final tapping the strip is forced against the side rail . This keeps everything square. The secret is not to make the angle on the wedges too steep. The alternating grain of the plywood gives them enough “bite” even after making a few dozen cutting boards. If it were ever to become a problem I would probably just take a little sand paper to scuff them up a bit. I’ll be at my workshop in about a week. I will measure the wedges and post the info here. Hope that helps. If you have any more questions just let me know.

-- Linda - It's only a mistake if you do it twice!

View Mojo1's profile


250 posts in 2112 days

#13 posted 12-29-2014 04:17 PM

I love it, seems impossible to get boards not to shift in regualar clamps!

View workislove's profile


10 posts in 1600 days

#14 posted 08-08-2015 04:47 AM

I love this, and it’s perfect for my purposes. I teach a cutting board class at a local maker-space, and we have to get 5-6 student cutting boards clamped up at the same time – needless to say that can be tough on the clamp supply. I just tried making one for myself and it came together nicely.

I’ll be making a set of 6 for my classes – thank you!

-- Seth Newsome, CA,

View Umpire20's profile


20 posts in 2477 days

#15 posted 03-02-2016 11:14 PM

I sent you a message via the Lumberjocks web page with a couple questions. Hopefully you still monitor this posting.

-- Steve, New Mexico, USA

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