When it comes to enhancing your cutting board, adding handles not only adds functionality but also enhances its overall appeal. There are various methods available for making handles on a cutting board, but one technique that I personally prefer (that does not use a router table) is using a palm router in combination with a cutting board handle jig. By using this method, you can easily route handles from beneath the surface of the cutting board, providing a nice grip for lifting and maneuvering it.
Making the handle is very simple and works well. All you need is a single board (MDF or Plywood) and you are good to go. And the result looks just great.
In this blog post, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on making a router template for cutting handles on a cutting board. I will show you how to make the template, as well as walk you through the routing procedure, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of each step.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need to build it
- General Questions
- Benefits of a Cutting Board Handle Jig
- How to Make a Cutting Board Handle Jig (Step-by-Step)
- Step 1: Cut the Template
- Step 2: Draw the Design on the Template
- Step 3: Cut out the Inner Rectangle
- Step 4: Mark the Center of the Template
- How to Route Cutting Board Handles
- Woodworking Jigs Used
Material needed for a Handle Jig
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Benefits of a Cutting Board Handle Jig
A DIY Cutting Board Handle Jig is a tool that allows you to quickly and accurately create handles on wooden cutting boards. It provides a guide for routing the handles, ensuring consistent and professional-looking results.
Consistent: A DIY Cutting Board Handle Jig is a simple guide for routing handles, resulting in precise and consistent results.
Repetitive: By using the cutting board handle jig as a template, you can save time during the handle creation process. You simply place it on the cutting board, attach it with clamps and you are ready to go.
Easy Grip: The cutting board handle jig allows you to route slots from beneath the surface of the board, allowing your fingers to slide in and easily lift the board up.
Let's start building!
You can use any kind of material you have at hand for the router template. I made it from an MDF board and I would suggest you do the same. Alternatively, you can use HDF or Plywood. These materials are flat, hard, and easy to work with.
NOTE: To cut the precise shape of the template I am using an adjustable router template guide to cut out the center and a table saw sled to get rid of the excess of the wood. However, you do not need these tools to create the template – a jigsaw or a hand saw will do just fine.
Handle Jig Properties:
- Dimensions: 290x145x8mm (Inner cut-out: 190x90mm) – this allows me to route a handle with a size of 100x50mm
This jig is built for the Dewalt palm router and its base plate. If you want a handle of a specific size then take into account your palm router and its base plate dimensions.
How to Make a Cutting Board Handle Jig (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Cut the Template
Start by cutting a board to the size of 290x145x8mm. I am using an MDF board with a thickness of 8mm. HDF or Plywood would work as well. You can cut the board using either a table saw or a jigsaw.
NOTE: Make sure the board you select is thick enough. I wouldn’t recommend using a board with a thickness of less than 8mm. The thickness provides stability, allowing you to easily utilize it as a guide for the router.
Step 2: Draw the Design on the Template
Then draw the template on the board. Make sure the lines are parallel to each other.
Step 4: Mark the Center of the Template
Use a pencil to mark the center on the template.
NOTE: When attaching the template to the cutting board, align the marked center points of both the template and the board. This ensures that the handles will be routed in the middle of the sides of the cutting board.
How to Route Cutting Board Handles
These steps provide a more detailed guide on how to use the jig and how to route handles on a cutting board.
- Mark the center points on each side of the cutting board.
- Place the template on the cutting board, ensuring the center of the template aligns with the marked center of the cutting board.
- Align the edges of the board and the template, then use clamps to secure the template firmly to the board.
- Start by routing a groove along the template in a clockwise direction.
- Proceed to trim the center area, continuing to route in a clockwise direction until all the material is cut. Take shallow passes to avoid burn marks.
- Once the first handle is complete, repeat the routing process for the other handle, following the same steps.
NOTE: Start cutting around the perimeter of the rectangle and leave the center to the end. This way, the router will not fall into the holder (it will still have support from below) and will cut at the same level.
There are many ways to route handles in a cutting board or a butcher block. Typically, you can either use a router table with multiple different router bits or in case you don’t have a router table you can use a custom cutting board handle jig. You simply clamp the jig to the board, align the edges and the centers and you are ready to go.
I like this jig. I’ve been using it for a few years now because it is simple to make, easy to set up, and it will help you add nice handles to your board.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cutting board handle used for?
A cutting board handle serves as a practical addition to your wooden cutting board, making it easier to lift, carry, and maneuver. It adds convenience and enhances the overall functionality of the board, making your culinary tasks a breeze.
How deep should a cutting board handle be?
The depth of cut of a cutting board handle typically ranges between 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch, providing a comfortable grip without compromising the board’s structural integrity. It’s important to find a depth that feels secure and ergonomic to you.
How do I ensure that the handles are routed at the exact same depth?
With a plunge router, you have the convenience of easily adjusting and setting the desired cutting depth on the router’s base. When using a palm router, you can use the first cut handle as a reference and then proceed to cut the second handle, ensuring both handles have the same depth.
What router bit should I use for cutting board handles?
When routing cutting board handles, a straight router bit with a suitable size, such as a 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch diameter, is commonly used. Ensure the bit is sharp and appropriate for the material of your cutting board. Remember to always prioritize safety by using proper protective gear.
What is the best method to sand the handles after routing them?
First, you can begin by using a trim router to bevel the edges of the handles. Afterward, employ sandpaper to smoothen both the edges and surfaces. Begin with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually progress to a finer grit, ensuring a smooth finish.
How do I avoid burn marks on cutting board handles?
To avoid burn marks on cutting board handles, make sure you use a sharp router bit. It is helpful to make multiple shallow passes instead of a single deep cut and avoid putting too much pressure while routing to maintain a clean and smooth finish.