Now presenting… the cutting board video I promised! The video below explains briefly how I made this cutting board, but I also wanted to take some space below to talk about why I think woodworking can produce your freedom. I’ll also get into the specific of how I made this particular project for those of you who are interested in the project itself.
The benefits of woodworking are almost endless. It’s a great hoby that lets you work creatively with your hands, and it also keeps your mind sharp due to the geometry and planning involved. Although intricate projects involve some fairly complex planning most basic projects do not. It truly is an art, and is one that can save you TONS of money over buying high-end wood products at fancy stores. It also lets you design that piece exactly how YOU want it. If you develop your skills enough, you can do projects just for fun and sell the end product for a decent sum. Most importantly woodworking teaches patience and problem solving (yes you will make mistakes), and gives you a positive sense of accomplishment. Best of all, you get a reminder on a regular basis of the great things you are capable of.
So how did I design and make this particular project? I won’t go into every specific dimension and tool used, but here are the steps in a nutshell:
- Look at images of end-grain cutting boards on the internet to get some ideas
- Choose the pattern and the wood. For a cutting board, you want to use hard woods with a fairly dense grain to hold up to the curring you will be doing. For this project I chose walnut and rock maple.
- Determine the approximate dimensions of the cutting board and size of the checkers that you want. Larger checkers = less work since you have to square up fewer pieces of wood.
- Add a margin to your planned dimension for each checker to allow for some loss of material when you are making each strip square.
- Calculate how many checkers you need to reach your desired length, and determine how long each piece squared piece of wood has to be by the following formula: Length = (Desired length of the board / Length of each checker) * Desired thickness of cutting board including margin to account for the depth of the saw blade. Again add some to the lenght to give yourself room for error.
- Cut each piece of wood to the length from step 5, then cut them over-sized to the size you will need for your checkers.
- Plane one piece completely square, still somewhat over-sized and measure both dimensions with calipers.
- Plane each additional piece square, getting close to the dimension of the first piece.
- Plane several pieces together if using a powered planer with a level deck to bring them all to same dimension.
- Glue all pieces together, alternating type of wood. Be sure the ends line up precisely and clamp together. Note you want to work fairly quickly here, so have everything you need laid out in advance. Also, you will want some plastic wrap down on your bench so that any excess glue that seeps out will not glue your project to the bench.
- Make sure this block is square in all directions when glue is dry
- Cut strips from this block corresponding to the depth of the cutting board, accounting for the width of the saw blade when doing so.
- Place each strip end-grain up, and flip every other piece end-over-end to create checkerboard pattern.
- Glue each piece to the next, ensuring that the ends (and hopefully the edges of the checkers) align correctly. Clamp them together. See step 10 regarding laying out your materials and using plastic wrap.
- Plane as needed to make square. I recommend using hand planes at this point.
- Sand using fairly smooth grits, working to finer and finer grits as you go.
- Sand all 90 degree edges off at a 45 degree angle or similar to prevent chipping. Then go back and sand all 8 corners. You want to do this very lightly and quickly so you don’t eat away too much material.
- Oil with a food safe oil such as vegetable oil. Do not use stain, it will mask the grain of the wood and hide its natural beauty. Let oil absorb over night.
- Repeat 18 above until the color has changed how you would like and you have applied several coats.
There you have it, the directions above assume some level of woodworking knowledge and experience. I don’t recommend this as a starter project for someone who is not comfortable with tools and woodworking. You could certainly do it, however you will probably get frustrated and not enjoy yourself. With patienbout and the right tools this can be done by just about anyone.
Thanks for stopping by and remember, “Produce your freedom, or life will produce your chains.” – Me