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Whale chopping board

Whale shaped chopping board

After watching Our Planet with Sir David Attenborough I was inspired to create a tribute to the great whale. And I came up with this whale shaped chopping board/serving tray.

I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to put some feet on the bottom to raise it off the work surface. This has 2 key functions. Firstly it makes it easier to pick up and use as a serving tray. And secondly it allows you to place a plate underneath so that you can easily slide off your chopped food.

Making the whale shaped chopping board

I started with a piece of beech, which is a great wood for making chopping boards. It is extremely hard, and provides a cutting surface that wears well against daily chopping but won’t ruin your cutting tools. Its dense closed grain and small pores are also excellent for blocking bacteria. First I drew the shape of the whale on the wood with a pencil. And then I cut it out with the bandsaw.

Whale chopping board

Next I used the file to smooth the rough edges and shape the wood. Because of the hardness of the wood, I found that I got better results with the file than with sandpaper. But it was tough, my arms were jelly at the end of it.

Whale chopping board

I then rounded over the edges using my handheld router with a roundover bit. But if you don’t have a router, you can use a file or sandpaper, it will just require a bit more muscle power. So that was the top done, it was now time to make the feet

Making the feet

I’d never made feet for a chopping board before. And I couldn’t find any advice online that I liked, so I just had to wing it. I grabbed a small off-cut of walnut and drew 4 circles on it with a compass. Why walnut? Well I thought the dark colour would give a nice contrast to the beech. Next I used a holesaw bit in the drill press to cut the circles out.

Making feet

What you can’t see in the picture is the huge amount of smoke which came pouring out as I was drilling. This was caused by the wood burning under the holesaw, so I had to go slower with the drill rather than trying to push it through. Once I had my 4 circular pieces, I sanded them smooth, and drilled a 6mm hole through the middle.

Why the hole? Well my plan was to put a 6mm dowel in there, and use that to fix it to the main board. So I cut some pieces of 6mm dowel.


I then drilled holes in the board, put some glue in, and inserted the dowels. Notice the stop that I have on the drill bit. You can use tape, but I find these far more accurate for drilling holes to exactly the same depth.

Next I slipped my walnut pieces onto the dowels, which had been coated in glue. And then I clamped everything down to make sure it dried in exactly the right position.

Finishing the whale shaped chopping board

To finish the chopping board I first soaked it in water in order to raise the grain. After sanding the wood fibres back down, I gave it 3 coats of food grade mineral oil. It’s important to raise the grain prior to adding the final finish. If you don’t, the first time the chopping board touches water, the surface will become sort of rough and fuzzy. This is due to the wood fibres absorbing the water and swelling up, and it will ruin your lovely smooth finish.

Whale chopping board

The completed chopping board

This chopping board will be a great talking point in your kitchen. And as you can see, the feet come in really handy!

If you’d like to make one of these, or have one made for you, feel free to contact me. Or you can receive my newsletter to get the latest news, updates and projects straight to your inbox.