Heirloom Recipe Engraved Bamboo Cutting Boards

Another of my dreams came true on a Glowforge. When I first saw the Flammarion Engraving cutting board topic I knew I would want to do a family recipe engraved on a bamboo cutting board to give out to my family.

My brother Michael provided a photo of an old recipe hand written by my mom on the back of an envelope. I played with that a bit and did one board with those results. The recipe is for pot wurst, a meat hash that is thickened and extended with oatmeal. My mom’s parents made this every Christmas time. I imagine it started out with getting all the beef bones from butchering, especially neck bones which are a challenge to clean, and then cooking them to be able to get all the meat off. Then cook the meat with some onion in the broth and add some oatmeal, salt and pepper and thyme. It’s what we had for the breakfasts we had after midnight mass growing up at Christmas time. It came down to my family as a recipe using a chuck roast. My dad would hand grind the meat with the original grinder that probably is over a hundred years old.

Here is the picture of the the recipe. It has lots of character.

One of the challenges is deciding how deep to engrave, what to keep in the image, what to highlight and what to discard. My image processing skills are fairly basic but I managed to achieve a decent effect. I could have just imported this image after cropping the back ground cloth out and just did a straight greyscale engrave. After testing photo engraves though, I thought it might be better for a recipe to use the cutting board as the background and just highlight the text and some of the envelope and wear details. I opened it up in GIMP and used the fuzzy select to delete a lot of the dark ivory color of the envelope and boosted the contrast a bit. I then turned it into black and white. It was a challenge because of the blue ink and some of the ways the letters are made. I did a lot of zooming in and treating small sections because this would be a file I’d use many times. So here it is after processing.

I did a bitmap of the text of the recipe to put side by side so you have an easy time following the recipe.

I opened these both up on the Glowforge and set it for 5% power, 335 in/min and 270 lpi. Engraving these cutting boards was a challenge because they are over a half thick. So I double checked the manual and agreement to make sure I could take the crumb sheet out, even though I knew that this had been discussed ad infinitem on the forum. The crumb tray is 1.3605" by my measurements. Two cutting boards on top of each other are 1.5170 inches, so subtracting the crumb tray thickness from the cutting board thickness, I have .1565" for the height of the material. If anyone has any corrections or suggestions about this procedure, let me know. In any case it worked very well. And I don’t have any pictures of that particular cutting board because I gave it away before documenting. It was fine, but I wanted to have a better scan of the envelope so I asked my sister-in-law to scan it at a high resolution and send it to me to process again. This worked a little better because I could more easily define the edges of the envelope.

There wasn’t too much difference by the time I cleaned it up but just a little more definition to the writing.

Here is the result;

Closeup of the recipe engrave:

I was pretty happy with the result and got orders from the siblings, except some wanted to hold off and choose a different recipe from mom and dad that they had saved on some stained and worn piece of paper.

The story continues when I brought it in to work for show and tell. My office manager came the next day with her recipe and a cutting board, asking me to do one for her family. We had been discussing this option and I was happy to try it again.

This time the form the recipe came in presented different challenges. It was on a yellow statement sized legal pad piece of paper and it was written on both sides. The recipe had some crinkles in it and bleed through from what ever had spilled on it through the years.

First step was to combine the sides into one image.

And then I worked on turning the image in to a pure black and white image with minimal greyscaling. This was trial and error for me working in GIMP but I managed. I messed around with the color and curve and that was pretty interesting to get it into two basic colors, but what worked was simply taking up the threshold and sharpening the image. It was a bit tricky because the writing is so faint and thin on the original.

Here is where I ran into some difficulties. I had been using full resolution with my images and when I went to uploading the file at something like 10 MB (I had messed with compression too) and Google Chrome kept giving me an error message when I tried to upload the file into the workspace. So I figured out what was wrong and redid the resolution and compression and got the file around 300 k and that worked fine. It actually loaded ok at 1 MB but when I loaded the accompanying text version of the recipe, it gave me some memory errors. I did the usual and detailed my experience to support.

Here is the result of the cookie recipe engrave. I kept the scale of the recipe the same as the original so it’s a little big for the space of this smaller cutting board and not placed optimally. One of the things about masking is working on placement when it obscures material. Needed to make some marks on the masking to allow me to place the images better in relationship to how the cutting board grain and pieces go. I’m doing a an engrave on a bigger board and was more careful with the placement and scaling of the images. (1 hour engrave at this resolution).

And final picture of a large board with a better scale and placement. Still need to narrow the transcribed recipe text a bit and nudge it over to the center.


Love this. I’ve been planning for one of these for a while! Love it.


This is so great…truly a mix of technologies! A fine keepsake, and it’s good that you wrote the text of the recipes next to them…‘translation’.


Yes – honoring the past while also making cooking a touch easier. :slight_smile:


Great, another on the item list of items my aunts want. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I really like the idea. Getting the heirloom copy to a point it engraves well I’m sure was difficult. It’s hard to keep that sense of age when your resolution will not allow for a lot of depth of shades. Over all I really like what you managed to do. For me, I would of probably tried to simply isolate the handwriting from the background and left just that on the heirloom side. But then, mine might not of looked as good :smile:


That will be something your family will treasure for a very long time.

Having her handwriting cannot compare to any recipe.


Well, now I’ll have to see if my sister has Mom’s old favorite cookbook with all of the handwritten recipies in it.

What a neat idea!

  • Tom

I have a ton of recipes in my grandmother’s handwriting. I love the idea of engraving her handwriting onto the board! That will be one of my first projects. Brilliant! :+1:


Great job! I’ve been keeping an eye on these cutting boards as I go through stores and imaging what I’d be putting on them in the future. Glad to see they work well! :slight_smile:


This is really ingenious.

For yellow and blue lined paper, you can experiment with ignoring certain colors. For example, photoshop has Image…Adjustments…Black and white, which lets you map different colors to different brightness levels. Turn up the brightness of yellow and blue so that they get mapped as white.


I think that was supposed to be what the color curves are supposed to do but then I didn’t quite get how it got mapped to black and white. It was definitely challenging. The whole layer thing and specific vocabularies are somewhat opaque to me at the moment. One of the reasons I haven’t done too much engraving because of the unfamiliarity with bitmap editing tools. I just keep clicking and then undo until I get it to come out how I need too! You have been extremely helpful with just the few screen shots to get me pointed in the right direction. Thanks.


Lots of love in these items


What a lovely and charming idea. Simply wonderful! The personalization is just “wow.” I think “I am getting verklempt.”


Man I love this idea. I have a pile of cutting boards sitting around. I’ll have to try this on one


You can also do a ‘select color range’. Sometimes that’s easier.

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Wow, this is awesome.

Chinese New Year is right around the corner, and I’ve been translating some of my Dad’s recipes and cooking notes into English and Metric measurements. We make a traditional turnip rice cake and taro rice cake for celebration. I think I know what I’m gonna do… :stuck_out_tongue:

-=- Terence


A unit conversion cutting board is a great idea. Food sounds amazing too.
At our house we call Chinese New Year “Don’t Order From Alibaba.com Month”. But I just found out about Hot Pot so I’m dying to find somewhere local to try some.


This idea of transferring old handwritten items to slightly more permanent medium opens up a lot of keepsake opportunities. Maybe old letters or notes from loved ones that have become worn could be engraved on a plaque or frame border. Childrens notes or drawings, etc. Maybe even try a family tree ans collect ,add old signatures from relatives under their names from old letters and cards and laser on a plaque.


Wow. I like this a lot. Just one suggestion (that may not be feasible): Had you considered a very light background engrave/stipple/border/something for the image side? It might be nice to have it look like a page/envelope/whatever.

(I am wondering what to do here – there’s the cake recipe that my grandmother got from he aunt in 1913 as something no bride should be without, but the thing we actually make all the time is turkey chili.)

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