How to Make a Rustic Charcuterie Board in 2 Hours

If you’re moderately comfortable with plugging in a tool, a DIY charcuterie board makes a really great gift, especially for a hostess.  The meat and cheese serving board takes about 2 hours to make from beginning to end and looks like you picked it up at a Paris antique market. Honestly, it does! 

Handmade charcuterie boards hanging on painted brick wall.

 

SKIP right to the tutorial.
 

Do you remember a few years ago when no one used the word charcuterie board? We called them serving boards, cheese boards, or (shudder) platters. We were such peasants in the olden days, 4 years ago.

Today I’m going to show you how to make a genuine, imitation antique meat & cheese board with a hunk of wood from the lumberyard, a jigsaw and a palm sander. And yes. It’s the same thing as a wood charcuterie board.  I’m sure you’ve seen antique cheese and breadboards before. They’re all over the stores and Internet.  You’ve maybe even seen DIYs on how to do them, but I’m going to show you a few tricks that’ll make your “Antique” serving board look authentic.

EVEN if you don’t think you’re handy, you can do this.  EVEN if you’re afraid of power tools, you can do this.  EVEN if you have no artistic instincts whatsoever, you can do this.

The full printable tutorial is at the bottom of the post.

How Do You Make a Charcuterie Board

All there is to making a rustic looking charcuterie board is cutting a piece of wood into a shape you like with a jigsaw (or a band saw) and then finishing it.

Because you aren’t looking for a perfect shape or fine woodworking, even a beginner can make an authentic looking board.

Marking a piece of barn board with chalk to make serving board.

  1.  Grab your piece of 12″ wide barn board and draw your cheese board outline on it.  You can find scads of examples of antique serving boards on Pinterest that you can use as inspiration for your shape. Cheese boards tend to be round and bread boards tend to be square or rectangular.  Just do what you think looks good.

What kind of wood do you use to make a charcuterie board?

Pine, spruce or fir:  If you’re new to things like using saws and cutting wood, pick a wood that’s a softwood and easy to cut. Keep in mind with these kinds of softwoods you won’t want to use the boards for any actual cutting, just as a serving tray.

Oak, beech or walnut: If you’re experienced and comfortable with saws you can pick harder woods like these. Oak, beech and walnut are a lot denser with a closed grain and because of that, they’re harder to cut. Those same properties  mean you can use them as cutting boards because they won’t dull your knives or scar easily.  

Cutting wood into a cheese serving board with a Bosch jigsaw.

2.  Clamp the wood to a sturdy surface like a table or workbench then cut the shape out with a jigsaw.

 

Drilling a hole into the end of a wood serving board to allow it to be hung.

 

3.  Drill a hole into the centre of the handle if you want a hole to hang it from.  The size of the hole is up to you.  You can do something just large enough to run a piece of twine through with a regular drill bit for hanging it, or something a little bigger using a hole saw.  Or, you can have no hole at all.

 

Festool palm sander, rounding out edges on newly made cheese board.

4. Using a palm sander, (a Festool 125 if you’re smart enough to ask for one for Christmas) sand the face and edges of the wood. You don’t want to have nice clean cut marks. That’s a dead giveaway that you’re faking something old.  If you’re using old barn board or even barn board that’s already a bit discoloured from the lumberyard, once you cut it, the edges will look bright and new.  Bleh.  So sand and round out the edges.

Decrease the grit of sandpaper you’re using.  Start with 80 grit, move to 120 brit and sand again, and finally sand with a 180  grit.

 

Wiping sawdust off of newly made cheese board with a tack cloth.

5.  Blow off the sawdust from the wood and then use a piece of tack cloth to remove the rest of it.

 

Using a stain made of vinegar and steel wool to discolour newly cut wood edges.

6.  Now the fun part of ageing your new wood, or ageing the newly cut edges of your old wood begins.  If you’re using old wood, brush the newly cut edges with your mixture of vinegar and steel wool.    If you’re using new wood, brush the whole board including the edges. Let dry. The reason I want you to use this technique to stain the wood and not a regular stain is because a) it perfectly replicates aged wood and b) it’s completely food safe.

Alternately, you can skip the vinegar and steel wool and just condition the wood with your food safe wood finish, which will darken the wood and give it a glow.  Don’t forget the newly cut edges!


TIP – By the way if you use cordless tools and have one that has a battery that won’t recharge, you should read this post on how to fix a battery that won’t charge.  If the battery is relatively new and not dead because it’s decades old you can fix it so the charger will charge it. 


5 wood DIY meat and cheese platters hanging on a white painted brick wall.

 
Intimidated?  Don’t be. This is how easy it’s going to be.

 

Various shapes and sizes of DIY charcuterie boards hanging on white brick wall.

I made cutting boards out of 3 different materials.  Genuinely old barn board, new pine and barn board with lots of scarring and knots from the lumberyard that already looked a tiny bit aged.

Glowing pine DIY serving board hanging on a brick wall by a leather tie.

There are plusses and minuses to working with both but my favourite was the lumberyard barn board that looked a bit aged. It’s the rectangular one you see above.  It had the most character, best colour after conditioning and you can actually use it for food, unlike genuine barn board which I would advise against.  Because ick. If you want to use an old genuine barn board for serving cut a layer of parchment or waxed paper to lay on top of the board.

I specifically chose a piece of barn board at the lumberyard that had a big crack and lots of character.

So.

What can you serve on a charcuterie board?

This is always the big question.  If you have one or more of each of the following things, you’re good. 

  • Fresh fruit
  • A variety of cheeses
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Cured meats
  • Soft cheese
  • Crackers
  • Small pot(s) of jams or chutneys

Those are your staples for a charcuterie and anything beyond that is going to get you into the serving board superstar realm.

 

Handmade Wood cheese boards hanging on brick wall.

Make an "Antique" Cheese Board

Yield: Cheese board.
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy(ish)
Estimated Cost: $10

Make this antique looking cheese/charcuterie board out of a piece of wide pine barn board that you can get from your local lumberyard. This is a GREAT hostess gift for Christmas. Just add cheese! :)

Materials

  • A piece of 12″ x 1″ soft wood, at least 12 inches long

Tools

  • Jigsaw
  • Clamps
  • Palm sander
  • Various grits of sandpaper for sander
  • Cotton rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Piece of chalk
  • Board butter (food grade wood conditioner)
  • Vinegar and Steel Wool stain

Instructions

    1. Grab your piece of 12″ wide barn board and draw your cheese board outline on it. Cheese boards tend to be round and bread boards tend to be square or rectangular.  Just do what you think looks good.
    2. Clamp the wood to a sturdy surface like a table or workbench then cut the shape out with a jigsaw.
    3. Drill a hole into the centre of the handle if you want a hole to hang it from.  The size of the hole is up to you.  You can do something just large enough to run a piece of twine through with a regular drill bit for hanging it, or something a little bigger using a hole saw.  Or, you can have no hole at all.
    4. Using a palm sander, sand the face and edges of the wood.  Start with 80 grit, move to 120 grit, and finally sand with 180  grit. You don’t want to have nice clean cut marks. That’s a dead giveaway that you’re faking something old.  If you’re using old barn board or even barn board that’s already a bit discoloured from the lumberyard, once you cut it, the edges will look bright and new.  So sand and round out the edges.
    5. Blow off the sawdust from the wood and then use a piece of tack cloth to remove the rest of it.
    6. Now the fun part of ageing your new wood, or ageing the newly cut edges of your old wood begins.  If you’re using old wood, brush the newly cut edges with your mixture of vinegar and steel wool.    If you’re using new wood, brush the whole board including the edges. Let dry. The reason I want you to use this technique to stain the wood and not a regular stain is because a) it perfectly replicates aged wood and b) it’s completely food safe. Alternately, you can skip the vinegar and steel wool stain and just condition the wood with your food safe wood finish, which will darken the wood and give it a glow.  Don’t forget the newly cut edges.

Notes

    • Here's my tutorial on making your own beeswax wood conditioner.
    • Here's my tutorial on making food safe stain out of steel wool and vinegar.
    • Knots are harder to cut through than regular wood, so when you get to them just be prepared.
    • Soft woods like pine, fir and spruce are much easier to work cut with a jigsaw and sand. Hard woods like oak, maple or walnut are much harder to cut BUT they can also be used as cutting boards then.
    • Take a good look at the wood.  It’ll tell you what to do with it.
    • Your chalk line will be thicker than your cut line.  Remember which side of your chalk to cut on to make your board the right size.
    • If you’re new and unsure of yourself with woodworking tools like a jigsaw, make a cutting board with only straight lines.  Curves are harder, so the straight lines will build up your confidence.
    • Don’t forget to round off any newly cut edges.
    • Don’t try to cut anything without clamping it down first.  Ever.
    • To make newer wood look like an older cutting/cheese board scar it using a knife or pizza cutter.

Just a reminder from the top of this post that this DIY charcuterie board would make a really nice hostess gift, either by itself or as the base for other fun stuff instead of a basket. 

How to turn this into a gift basket.

Lay out your cellophane and then lay the board on top of it.

Top the board with a good cheese, a box of unique crackers, some type of fig or cranberry jam that goes with the cheese and crackers, a bottle of wine or olive oil (for height) and some sprigs of pine and spruce.

Done! Just like that you have a thoughtful, inexpensive gift for someone.

Unlike this year’s new word – COVID – this is something you’ll be happy to give to someone.

How to Make a Rustic Charcuterie Board in 2 Hours

106 Comments

  1. You’ve done it again: Amazed me! Love your blog. It’s the only one I’m genuinely happy to find in my inbox. Might even try making that beautiful board. Thanks. :)

  2. Shauna says:

    The pro5 orbital sander has sold out – I wonder if that’s due to your post. It’s the least expensive one and within reason to spend, so I wouldn’t be surprised. $545.00 is a bit too rich for me (the one you used), but you’ve definitely sold the benefits of it to me. All the reasons you state for not liking your usual sander is all the reasons I don’t like mine.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shawna! That’s a mistake on my part. The sander that I used is $275. It’s the 125. If you click on the very first photo in my blog post it should take you to the correct sander. Still not cheap but not $600, LOL.

  3. Connie says:

    Absolutely love this idea but I must say, in all my years of going to Estate Sale, Garage Sales, and Antique store, I have never seen old cheese boards.
    I must get going on this idea straight away.

  4. Heather Yung says:

    What timing! I was making cutting boards for Christmas gifts, but I think I will go this route instead. I love, LOVE the look of the board with the crack in it! I would have normally passed on a piece of wood like that…from now on I will see the beauty in the wood instead! Going to go make a bunch of these to keep myself busy; as an American I am feeling absolutely sick . Thanks for reminding me there is still beauty in something “ugly”. (At least the wood isn’t “orange tinted”. :o) Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      Oh yes, you have to look for the bad boards that no one else wants. :) Those are the ones that make the most beautiful things. ~ karen!

  5. Mindy says:

    My husband and I made a collection of these out of bamboo for my sister a few years ago. They turned out beautiful. http://rindymae.blogspot.com/2012/11/diy-bamboo-bread-boards.html

  6. Melissa says:

    Awesomely beautiful!

  7. Laurie says:

    They’re beautiful Karen! As an aside, my heart goes out to our American friends. I’ve never been so happy to be Canadian, and I was pretty happy about it before!

  8. Heather S says:

    Thank you for the great, detailed and uplifting post!! Usually I read your posts at my coffee break! I save them?.
    I decided I needed something fun and uplifting this morning to get going….
    Someday I will buy that festool palm sander! My husband has been borrowing a festool tracksaw from a good friend. Such quality tools!

    We bought a Miele dishwasher last year and I truly love it!! No more pre cleaning dishes!!! Yeah!!!

    • Penley says:

      I can’t believe how much I love my Miele dishwasher. It’s ridiculous. It has that top slider draw bit for cutlery instead of the basket and it has been a bloody game changer. Love it. Also can’t believe I have feelings either way about my dishwasher!

  9. Attygreen13 says:

    Dearest Karen,
    I feel like we’ve known each other forever. I’ve been a devoted reader of your blog for YEARS. I’ve cried with you, laughed with you, hated Brussels sprouts with you, even sympathy-stuffed potato chips in my mouth with you. So I hope that I’m not too forward in asking, seeing as how you live in Canada, if you might not have a spare room for a fellow potato-chip-lover who’s looking to flee her homeland due to political unrest. Think of it: I love to decorate, I will finish half the snack bag so you don’t have to, and we can laugh/cry on the same couch, instead of miles away. Much easier to wipe each other’s drool that way. Anyhoo, think about it. Holler.
    ❤️
    attygreen13

    • Karen says:

      Dear Atty. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. :) Although apparently no one thinks so since the immigration to Canada website has crashed. ~ karen!

  10. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Love the rosemary sprig on the board! (And that’s my favorite one too…)
    Great idea!

  11. Flash says:

    Is the sander election or air driven? I don’t eat dairy due to the treatment of the cows but this will make great presents for my bread baking buddies

  12. Sabina says:

    Another awesome tutorial, thanks Karen! Can’t wait to check out the sander also!

  13. Eileen says:

    hi Karen,
    any houses for sale in your neighborhood? Don’t need much, just space for me, maybe a couple of kitties, and my craft stash.
    Oh… and the cheese boards are cool.

  14. Julie says:

    Love the rustic look of these boards! Love to have one of those sanders, but not after looking at price! FYI…Lee Valley is our favourite store!

  15. bill keiser says:

    Sometimes sanding part of the piece will make it VERY smooth, and the wood will look fresher/lighter. You can work on those smooth parts with a wire wheel. An angle grinder with the wheel is the best way, but you can get small ones that will chuck right into a drill motor.

  16. trish oriordan says:

    I can’t even read this. Trump is our president and I can’t breathe. They look nice though.

  17. Maggie Van Sickle says:

    I have a handmade board that an old friend made me years ago. I love it. It is a bit worse for the wear as it is so old but still works. Good job ás usual Karen

  18. Jacquie says:

    You say that weirdo cheese haters could make it as a bread board. Sorry but people who don’t like cheese don’t deserve to have nice things :-)

  19. Takia says:

    Wow! Those are beautiful! I am in the process of building a new kitchen in my 1870’s home and I so see a project with some wood that was discovered in the rafters hanging on my freshly exposed brick!!!

  20. Wisconsin Gal says:

    I’m an American. I feel like we just bought everyone a ticket on Dr. Strangelove’s bomb to the end of the world. I apologize. Great sanders aren’t on my mind.

    • Marie Anne says:

      Wish I knew what to say in comfort.

    • Kim from Milwaukee says:

      I’m with ya….so frustrated with this country right now….how the heck does someone as idiotic as him even run, let alone WIN???? I’m stupefied. I feel like Biff just got elected and we have to see his ugly face in a nightmare for the next 4 years. We’re living in Idiocracy.

      • Pam says:

        Ditto. It’s the nightmare that won’t end for four years. I’m trying to move towards acceptance, but it’s hard to get over the shock, anger, fear and sadness to get there.

  21. LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!
    It is such a good idea that now I am planning on making a batch of these and, along with a loaf of homemade bread, give them as Christmas gifts! It’s midnight, but I am not going to bed without finding a bottle, some vinegar, steel wool and getting my stain cooking!
    Just an FYI to anyone unfamiliar with Lee Valley…Lee Valley is an excellent company, well run, honest and with excellent customer service. I SO look forward to receiving their catalogs…it’s as exciting as when the Sears toy catalog was delivered before Christmas (yes, I am that old). Lee Valley always has something new. Always something I just have to have.
    Thanks, Karen for such a fun project

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Susan! If you love getting their catalogue then, you’re going to reallyyyyy like Monday’s giveaway post. ;) ~ karen!

    • Cred says:

      Blogs need ‘like’ buttons like FB.
      I love your idea for cheese/bread boards with a homemade loaf as gifts.
      (Thumbs up)

      • MaggieB says:

        And I would like to add to that – what an excellent idea – maybe not this year but definitely for next (going on the list) – or even what a cool idea to do the board and homemade bread for a housewarming gift. In Germany it is typical to give bread (never know hunger), salt (life have flavour), coin (for good fortune) – typically these 3 are given together – and then wine (prosperity and good cheer), broom (to keep house clean, or sweep away bad spirits), honey (sweetness in life) and candles (light and happiness).

      • whitequeen96 says:

        What a lovely tradition! I’ll have to keep that in mind; maybe even for New Year’s Day. Thanks for the info!

  22. Mark says:

    There is a real difference in tool performance through reduced vibration. A friend has a Bosch jigsaw and it is so much smoother and easier to use than my (yellow-branded) model…

    • Karen says:

      I also have a Bosch jigsaw Mark and owned a couple others before it. It’s fantastic. LOVE it. Of course, I haven’t tried the Festool jigsaw, lol. It was really interesting to see that there was no vibration with the palm sander. Like, none. I didn’t even know that was possible with a palm sander. ~ karen!

  23. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Good stuff Karen!

  24. Jennie Lee says:

    They’re really nice, Karen. Just FYI–a lot of Americans are in shock and mourning, right now. We might not have the heart for cheese boards. Or much else. For a good while.

    • Paula says:

      You aren’t the only ones…

      • Jennie Lee says:

        Thanks. I don’t want to use up Karen’s space, but we’re not all like him. Honest.

      • Flash says:

        We will survive.

      • Jennie Lee says:

        I can’t leave your statement like that. Many, many will quite literally not survive this. I’ve just spent hours on a website trying to help people cope with depression and suicidal ideation. And the avowed immediate purpose of the president-elect is, among other things, to do away with our healthcare. I’ll lose mine, but I’m not really sick. People who require drugs for things like cancer will not get them, and will die. This is no joke. I’ve been up all night. I’ve seen a lot of “my” candidates lose. This is different. The only thing I’ve felt like this in my 63 year life is when my “significant other” of 26 years left me. This will set our country back 50 years.

      • whitequeen96 says:

        I couldn’t have said it better. :-(

  25. Paula says:

    Very cool!

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