How to Build an Over-the-Sink Cutting Board

This may be the answer to limited counter space if you live in a small apartment or home. Follow our step-by-step instructions.

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Time

A full day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$100 - $200

Introduction

This may be the answer to limited counter space if you live in a small apartment or home. Follow our step-by-step instructions.

Tools Required

  • Belt sander
  • Biscuit / Plate joiner
  • Drill/driver
  • Flute cutting router bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure

Materials Required

  • Food safe wood finish
  • Hardwood lumber
  • Rubber feet
  • Waterproof wood glue

Whether you live in a small apartment or an old home with a tiny kitchen, cooking with limited kitchen counter space can be a challenge. Once you lay out a few essential countertop appliances (toaster, air fryer, coffeemaker, etc.), there’s next to nothing left for cutting vegetables and food prep.

Here’s the solution: An over-the-sink cutting board.

As the name implies, these boards span your sink and give you a work surface when you need it. They’re readily available in home furnishing stores. But because sinks and kitchen designs vary, no single model will work for everyone. So why not DIY one?

Here are some steps for making your own over-the-sink cutting board.

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

Determine the cutting board size

Before you start, you’ll need a few crucial measurements:

  • Measurement A: The width of your sink. This varies depending on whether have an undermount or drop-in sink. For an undermount, measure from the countertop on the left side of the sink to the countertop on the right side. For drop-ins, measure the lip as well.
  • Measurement B: The depth of your sink from the nearest point of your faucet to the front edge of your countertop.
  • Measurement C: For drop-in sinks, determine the height of the sink lip from the countertop.
  • Measurement D: If you have a garbage disposal or wish to dump liquids or food scraps into the sink, measure the center of the drain in relation to Measurements A and B. Omit this if you don’t want a hole in your cutting board.

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Step 2

Cut the boards

Add three inches to the width of your sink (Measurement A). That’s the length to cut your boards.

To determine how many boards you’ll need, take your sink depth (Measurement B) and divide it by the width of your boards.

I wanted my cutting board to be 1-1/4 inches thick. I chose a thickness of 1-3/8-inches, knowing I had a considerable amount of sanding and/or planning ahead of me.

My sink dimensions (used for these drawings):

Measurement A: 33 inches.

Measurement B: 19-3/8-inches.

Board length: Measurement A: 33-in. + 3-in. = 36 inches.

Board quantity: Measurement B: 19-3/8-in. divided by 3/4-in. (my lumber thickness) = 25.833, or 25 boards.

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Step 3

Glue it together

Once you’ve cut your boards, glue them together. A waterproof wood glue like Titebond III¬†ensures every joint has 100% coverage.

Though biscuits aren’t required, I highly recommend them. They will not only strengthen the cutting board but assist in aligning the numerous boards. Distribute the biscuit joints throughout the cutting board, making sure not to place any where the drain hole will be.

Glue the cutting board and clamp it tightly until the glue dries. Then remove the clamps and scrape off any glue squeeze-out with a scraper, putty knife or chisel.
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Step 4

Flatten out the cutting board

Smooth out the top and bottom of the cutting board with a belt sander, starting with an 80-grit belt and working your way up to 120-grit. If your boards are far from flush, you might be better off starting with a power planer and finishing it off with the belt sander.

Once the cutting board is flat, if the boards aren’t aligned on the sides, trim them square on the table saw.
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Step 5

Route a channel

With a flattened cutting board (most likely at least 1/8-in. thinner than when you started), choose the prettiest side of the board and route a channel around the perimeter of the board 1/2-in. from the outside edge. This collects moisture and juices before they run off the surface.

Use a wood router with a 1/2-in. flute cutting bit. Make the channel 1/8-to 3/16-in. deep, leaving it about 3/8-in. wide.
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Step 6

Cut the drain hole

Use a router with a template or a jigsaw for this.

For me, a 5-in.-dia. hole is ideal. It doesn’t take up much space, yet I can still fit my large hands through it when some produce rolls into the sink.
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Step 7

Sand and finish

Sand the entire cutting board to 220-grit and break the edges, including those around the drain hole and the perimeter.

Clean all surfaces of the cutting boards with a vacuum cleaner or blower, and apply a food-safe finish. These come in oils and waxes; for the best protection, I recommend both. I’ve found Walrus Oil to be the best. As always, apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cutting Board Oil And Wood Wax Bundlevia merchant

Step 8

Attach the Feet

Purchase rubber feet or bumpers rather than plastic to prevent them from sliding around on the countertop surface. To avoid problems with adhesive failing, I prefer screwed-on rubber feet as well. If you have a drop-in sink, be sure to purchase a rubber feet taller than the sink lip (Measurement C).

Note: For those with farmhouse sinks that extend all the way to the counter edge, attach your feet only to the sides of the cutting board, not the front.
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