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Make a Charcuterie board with cheap wood

Being the frugal person I am, I wondered if I could make a nice-looking charcuterie board with cheap wood. The problem with builder-grade wood is that it doesn’t have the beautiful wood grain or colour that specialty woods have, so I would have to stain and seal it. In this tutorial, I’ll show you what to look for when buying builder-grade lumber, how to make a food-safe stain and what to seal it with. Note: This would also work with scrap wood.

Tips for buying cheap wood for a charcuterie board

When you’re at the local building supply store, in the run-of-the-mill 8′ long 1×6 board section, look for boards with obvious woodgrain; something that has a little gray in it would be a bonus. Even better would be if the imperfections on the edge mimic a raw edge look but not boards with big knots. See the photos below for examples.

Fun fact: a 1×6 board is 3/4″ x 5 1/2″.

Supplies to make the charcuterie board

  • 1 x 6 board (they typically come in 8′ lengths) Or choose your width
  • Mitre saw to cut the wood
  • Jigsaw (or bandsaw)
  • (optional) Drill & 3/8″ drill bit- or choose your bit size
  • Orbital sander with 150-250 grit sandpaper
  • Instant coffee to stain the wood
  • Cocoa powder (for baking, no sugar)
  • Container to mix coffee & one to mix cocoa powder
  • Rag, paper towel or brush to apply the coffee & cocoa stain
  • Shellac – is non-toxic once dry.

1. Download and print the charcuterie handle pattern

I have four different handle patterns that you can download for free. Tip: Printing it on cardstock will make it easier to trace, and the pattern will last longer if you use it more than once.

Charcuterie board handle pattern
Charcuterie Board Handle Patterns

Download: Pattern 1, Pattern 2, Pattern 3, Pattern 4

2. Cut out the handle shape

The patterns I made for you should be the same (ish) width as a 1×6 board, making it easy to trace onto the wood. Whenever I make these charcuterie boards, I always adapt the size and length to fit the board I use to reduce wood waste, so mine were 22″ long.

  1. Decide how long your charcuterie board will be and cut it to length.
  2. Choose which end will be the handle, then line up the pattern and trace the outline.
  3. Using the jigsaw (or bandsaw), cut out the handle shape on the wood.
  4. Optional: Add a hole in the handle. Tip: Before you drill the hole, mark where you want it to be and place a scrap piece of wood underneath. Doing this will reduce the chance of wood splintering around the hole’s edges as you drill.

4. Sand the charcuterie board

If you’d like a barnwood texture, I have a tutorial on achieving it with new wood.

  1. Start by sanding the charcuterie board with 150-grit sandpaper, making sure to sand off the sharp edges.
  2. Next, move to 250-grit sandpaper, rounding over the edges on both sides. If you have a router with a roundover bit, it will get that nice rounded edge. For mine, I sanded the edges using an orbital sander.
  3. The last step is to hand sand the edges if they need refining.
  4. Remove all the dust from the board before you move onto the coffee stain.

5. Apply the coffee stain to the charcuterie board

Learn from my mistake! Use scraps leftover from cutting out the handle to test the stain. Allow it to dry before you commit to the stain colour. You may have to adjust the proportions to suit the look you want. The other tip is to write the recipe directly on the scrap wood with stain so you can repeat it- assuming you’re happy with it! I wouldn’t have had to re-sand the wood on the charcuterie board if I had done that. Update: I have a new tutorial on how to turn cheap wood into a beautiful tray with a slightly different way to use the coffee stain, and I love the look!

  1. I wanted a fairly light stain on mine, so I mixed one heaping tsp of instant coffee with 1/2 c hot water. It gave the wood a warm tone that let the grain show through. However, everyone’s tastes differ, so do some tests first to get the look you want!
  2. Paint the stain with a brush, rag, or paper towel, then let dry.

6. Add a second coloured stain made from cocoa to add depth to the wood

Step 6 is optional because you may be happy with the charcuterie board’s appearance with just the coffee stain. I found that some boards looked fine with just the coffee stain, and some needed a little extra something. It’s really a personal preference.

  1. Mix one heaping tsp of cocoa powder with 1/4 c of hot water and mix.
  2. Lightly wet the board with water before adding the cocoa stain. This will help to make the stain blend on the edges instead of a definite line.
  3. Next, crumple up a paper towel or rag and dab the cocoa stain randomly on the charcuterie board. I added more in the center where it would have naturally gotten more use. Let it dry. If you’re happy with it, move on to the next step. If not, play around with it until it’s the look you want.
  4. Once dry, lightly sand it with 220-grit sandpaper to make it smooth.

7. Apply a Shellac sealer to the charcuterie board

Because I was using cheap wood, I went back and forth on how to finish the charcuterie board. After a lot of online research, I settled on Shellac. It is all-natural and non-toxic once dried. It has a nice sheen to it as well. Of course, you can use food-safe mineral oil and/or beeswax if you want, but I wanted something more permanent for this type of wood. As always, the choice is yours! If using shellac, follow the directions on the container. When the shellac has dried, lightly sand by hand in the direction of the wood grain, using 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface once more. The last thing I like to do is crumple up some paper and rub it all over until the wood has a nice polished feel. Don’t laugh. It really works!

That’s all there is to it!

I’m keeping mine to use for those special and not-so-special times because there’s something about these boards that makes me feel fancy! Get creative and have fun! For more DIY ideas, check my website, The Old Tree Cottage Simple DIY projects, for a quaint cottage feel.

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