It’s Cinco de Mayo! I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s no better way to celebrate than with fresh guacamole. Grab your favorite recipe and serve it on this cactus cutting board for some extra fun. This DIY will make your celebration feel a little more festive—and it also makes a great gift for any party host. Not to mention, this design will look great in your kitchen all year round.
Step 1: Print and cut out template
Download our cactus cutting board template. Print it out on two sheets of cardstock paper, cut out the shapes, and tape them together.
If there’s a different shape you’d like to make, you can come up with your own design! Just make sure it’s compatible with the cutting abilities of a jig saw (i.e. none of the curves are too sharp).
For this project, I chose to use poplar since hardwood will hold up against the blade of a knife better than softwood. Plus, poplar has a natural green hue that is perfect for a cactus-themed DIY.
Step 2: Cut out shape in wood
Tape the template to your piece of wood along the template’s edges. While you cut out the shape of your board, the tape will hold the fibers of the wood together and create a cleaner edge. Since the teeth of the jig saw blade point upward, breakage is more of a concern on the surface of the wood (which is why we apply tape to the top but not the bottom of the wood).
Trace the shape of the template onto the tape with a pen or pencil. Clamp the board to your work surface with part of it overhanging the edge of the table. Cut in sections and rotate the board as needed. You should always be cutting on the part of the board overhanging the table. If you don’t have a jig saw or aren’t comfortable using one, you can also use a coping saw (which is a hand saw with a very thin blade that's great for cutting curves).
The inside corner between the main part of the cactus and the cactus arm proved to be a little tricky. There were two elements that contributed to this: First, the curve on the cactus arm was too tight to take in one turn of the saw. Second, the hardness of the wood caused the blade of the saw to bend out when cutting curves, and this made the cactus wider on the bottom than the top. We solved the first problem by cutting out some of the wood around the arm so the saw blade had more freedom to turn. We addressed the second problem by flipping the board upside down, lining up the template on that side, and recutting the corner. This worked for us, but it is a little risky since the last thing you want is a slip up on the top side of your cutting board.
I really like the design I came up with for this cutting board, but I do think it was part of the problem. Eliminating the curve right before the point where the arm and cactus body meet or pulling the cactus arm away from the body so all of those curves and points aren't so close together would help with this problem. Whether you alter the design or stick to the original, I would recommend running the saw at full speed and guiding it through the wood with a slow and steady hand. This will help keep the blade from bending.
Step 3: Add strap
Now that the shape of your board is cut out, it’s time to add a strap. Fold your cactus template in half to determine the middle, and use the template to mark that spot near the top of your cutting board. Drill a hole with a 3/16” drill bit. Feed a piece of twine or a leather strap through the hole and tie the ends together so you can hang your cutting board. This is a great way to store your board while still keeping it on display.
Note: We waited to add our strap until after we treated the wood in Step 5.
Step 4: Sand cutting board
Sand the cut edges and the surface of the wood smooth with an electric sander. Start with 100-grit or 150-grit sandpaper and work your way up to 220-grit. This is a great time to smooth out the curves of the cactus and the cactus arm if you didn’t get them quite perfect with your initial cuts. I always find this part to be extremely satisfying—it's a time to really perfect your work. Use a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the small section between the arm and body of the cactus.
Step 5: Treat wood
The last step is to treat the wood. I like using mineral oil for projects like this because it’s easy, inexpensive, and food safe. Apply the oil with a rag and allow it to soak into the wood for a few minutes before wiping off excess. You can now add your leather strap or twine to hang your cutting board.
Before this step, I considered getting out the woodburning kit and adding a recipe for guacamole or margaritas to this cutting board, but I realized I don’t have recipes for either of those things! I usually just approximate and figure it out in the moment. But if you do have a favorite recipe you want to copy down, that’s a great way to personalize your board. Just make sure you add it before you treat the wood.
Now you have your own cactus cutting board! For more cutting board ideas, check out this owl design and this Washington State design. And for a bigger way to add some festivity to your Cinco de Mayo, try this all-terrain bar cart.