Woodworking is something that Mark von Kutzleben “always stuck with” since his time in high school almost 50 years ago. The Bogart resident enjoys spending the winter in his woodshop cutting, gluing and sanding away to form striking kitchen cutting boards.
“It’s for relaxation,” he said. “Some people collect stamps...Well, it’s easier for me to make excess cutting boards than excess doors or something.”
Von Kutzleben makes boards of various thicknesses and sizes with a combination of walnut, maple and cherry woods. He then uses food-safe waterproof glue and finishes each one off with a blend of food-grade mineral oil and beeswax.
Each board’s signature striped look comes from the darker walnut and lighter maple woods with the centerpiece cherry wood, he said.
He brings back wood from his regular vacations in the Midwest in the warmer months of each year. Once there, he buys the maple and walnut woods from regional Amish and furniture factories because they have those woods in abundance.
“I try to get my wood from smaller companies. I’ve been buying from the same Amish family...who’s been selling for generations,” he said.
Since von Kutzleben has been making cutting boards for a while, he has observed various trends and customer preferences. Whereas people wanted larger and heavier boards in the past, they now want smaller, more space-conscious boards on which to cut up finer foods, rather than chop.
He added that others prefer charcuterie boards or to simply display the board in their kitchens without using it at all.
“If they use it, it won’t look like it first did, but it takes on a character of its own,” von Kutzleben said. “I can take it back, though, sand it down and reapply the mineral oil so it looks good as new.”
Like many other retailers, he has also had to navigate selling his products during the pandemic.
“I’ve had success selling online because with COVID-19, you can’t go to [craft] shows so much...but online, it works out really well, and it keeps my customers local.”
Since shipping an item like a cutting board can be cost-prohibitive, von Kutzleben estimated that about 80 percent of his customers live in or around Oconee County.
Many of them contact him through his Facebook of the same name. He sells each board for $45 and accepts payment remotely through Venmo, Paypal or physical cash.
Because of health and safety concerns, he has delivered boards to customers’ porches. However, for customers who have wanted to pay in-person with cash, he has worn a mask and quickly exchanged the products for payment.
Crafting the boards gives von Kutzleben a great sense of satisfaction.
“I get a great satisfaction of seeing someone pick it up and have that tactile feel,” he said. “It’s great just to see the looks on their faces.”