Quick, it’s almost Christmas…or your wife’s birthday…or that wedding you forgot about is this weekend!
A cutting board? Nice, but it’s been done a thousand times before, right?
Well, yeah. But that’s because they are awesome. And here’s a way to give it a special extra touch that will only take you another 20 minutes or so to add to that gorgeous cutting board. Best of all, they are made using readily available marble tiles, so you don’t even need to make the inlay piece yourself.
I’ve partnered with Inventables to show you how to make these simple inlays using the X-Carve CNC. One of my favorite things about owning an X-Carve is the online forum filled with helpful tips and answers, and the large database of projects available to use for free. I’ve added this project to the database, and you can find that here. While this post is sponsored, any opinions, mistakes, off-the-wall ideas, or ideas (good or bad) are mine entirely.
Here’s a video overview so you can see how this thing works. As you can see, there’s not much to it!
*As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. This disclosure pertains to all the links in this post. You can learn more about affiliate links here.
Materials and Tools
Marble Mosaic Tile
Cutting Board (This post will not cover how to build the board itself)
Sander (kind of optional, but helpful – I used my benchtop belt sander)
Oil to finish the board
How to create a simple flower marble inlay using the X-Carve
I’ll be honest with you, most of the work here was in creating the file. If you want to do that, I’ll very briefly cover my process here. If you could care less and just want to know how to use the file I made, skip this and move on.
I pulled the pieces off the mosaic backer and scanned one petal and the middle of the flower pattern. After scanning the file I ran it through Illustrator to vectorize the image and export it as an SVG. I then imported that file and adjusted it to rough size. I then hooked the computer up to the X-Carve and ran about a dozen quick carves tightening it up to the right size. As you might guess, there is some natural variation in the marble, so all I could do was pull one that seemed pretty standard and size to that shape. I then created the flower pattern using that one petal and the middle circle, which I sized at the same time I was working on the petal.
Is there a better way? Maybe. Probably. But the good news is, it’s all yours to use without all that work.
Adding the marble inlays:
These marble inlays are made from tiles available on Amazon. There are 25 of these flower patterns per sheet, which at the time of writing this was priced at $22.99. Given each flower uses 8 of the 9 petals if you were to use them all you could make 28 boards for an added cost of .82 cents material costs for the marble inlay. And at a carve time of just 10 or 11 minutes, that’s some good math.
Usually, when you create inlays you need to carve out the spot for the inlay, and on a separate board carve the pattern that is going in. With this method you only need to do the first part of the carve. However, there is one con that I’ll be right up front about. Due to variation in the stones it is not possible to get an absolutely perfect fit with every piece of stone. So that math above is in an ideal world. I found that some petals were just a bit off, and did not use those.
I ran three separate carves to show you how these fit, and I’ll give you a close look:
Set the machine to carve the flower detail wherever you would like in your board. Don’t mess with the depth settings as they are dialed in for this marble tile.
The carve took me 11 minutes on walnut using a 1/8″ straight cut bit.
Peel the marble pieces off of the mesh backer. I found it helpful to touch up the backs with my benchtop belt sander. Don’t take off enough to change the thickness of the tile, of course, but clean up the residual mesh. One thing that helps a lot with fit is to round the bottom edges of the pieces a bit. Only the top edge will show, so if you can ease some of the pressure of that stone fitting into the wood inlays it helps a lot.
I don’t have a great photo of that process, but it is in the video.
Fitting the Inlay Pieces:
Drop a bit of CA glue into the carved areas and fit them one at a time. You can get a sense for the fit before pressuring it into place, so if something seems off, try another piece. If it is too tight try another or you could crack the piece. I found a sacrificial board and mallet helped snug each piece into place. The CA glue does seep out a bit, but I wasn’t worried about that as the boards need to be sanded next anyway.
If you do have any gaps – and they should be very slight if you do – you can fill them with a bit more CA glue and then sand it all flush.
That’s really all there is to it. After letting the glue set I sand the boards to 120 grit. Then I spritz them with water, let them dry, and sand again to 220. I prefer to finish my boards with Walrus Oil and follow up with Walrus Oil Wood Wax.
All that’s left to do is to show you some photos of how these turned out. As I mentioned, I ran three boards to check this thoroughly.
And finally, the walnut board I’ve been hanging on to for some time because I liked it too much to give away with my last batch of gifted boards.
Check out that detail all ready to show off for your next fancy party:
A big thank you to Inventables for their ongoing support and for making the CNC learning process manageable for even dolts like me. I love a simple project, and this is one that is not only crazy simple, but has a big wow factor.