Cutting Boards Part 2

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Bigdog72

Moderator
Geoff
I am going to make some end grain cutting boards for Xmas using the "Wood Whisperer" method. I plan on using a combination of soft maple and cherry (this will be aesthetically pleasing according to some). I am asking for comments from those that have made cutting boards through the years so that, perhaps, I can avoid mistakes. I would appreciate any advise from the more experienced than I am.
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
Hi Geoff!!!

I have made 5 of those endgrain jobies over the past three years. I used cherry, maple and walnut on mine.:wsmile:

The biggest (no really that bad) issue I had was in the final sanding and getting the boards nice and flat. I started with a ROS and 100 grit. Too slow for me!!! I then switched to 80 grit on a 3x21 belt sander and went really light an slooooooooowwww. That seemed to do the trick. I followed up with 100, 120, 150 and 220 grit ROS after that. Morel of story! Sanding was the biggest issue.:BangHead::BangHead:

I finished them with some cheap mineral oil from the local pharmacy.

Now that i know a few folks with a wide drum sander, I will buying some good brewskies for them and paying them a short visit!:widea::widea:

BTW. They are fun to make and the receivers really appreciated the results!

http://www.ncwoodworker.net/pp/data/680/medium/CB2.jpg

(Oh ya. The other addr I did was to add a small rubber foot screwed into each corner of the bottom to give it stability on slippery surfaces.)

HTH,

Wayne
 

toolman

Chad
Corporate Member
Geoff

Will see you Sunday and I will bring 2 Endgrain Butcher Blocks so you can see them.. One is the first one I made and the other is the last one.. The last two look the same - well made them at the same time one for each of my two oldest boys.. I made them close to the "Wood Whisperer", It whas not hard I use the basicly the same method. I only use three type of wood Hard Maple, Cherry, and Mahogany. See you Sunday..
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I am going to make some end grain cutting boards for Xmas using the "Wood Whisperer" method. I plan on using a combination of soft maple and cherry (this will be aesthetically pleasing according to some). I am asking for comments from those that have made cutting boards through the years so that, perhaps, I can avoid mistakes. I would appreciate any advise from the more experienced than I am.
I've made a few of these. The videos cover most of the important steps. My $0.02

- Be picky in selecting stock. Knots can be very problematic, since a knot on a cutting surface will eventually turn into a hole. I've found this to be primarily a problem with walnut.
- Leave the lumber slightly thicker initially, so that you can plane the board flat after glueup #1. You want the surface to be dead flat.
- Use a crosscut sled with a stop block for the second cutting. Less burning and more consistent thickness
- When doing the second round of cuts, I like to first take off a thin strip (1/8") or so from the leading edge before cutting the actual strips. If anything is off slightly from square, everything will be off the same amount that way and the result will be flat.
- Cleaning up glue is bad. Glue voids are worse. Don't be skimpy with the glue.
- Use a glue roller to apply things evenly. If you don't have one, look at a houseware store, get a narrow roller (3"-4" wide) with a silicone finish, those work great.
- Sanding end grain is about as interesting as watching tung oil cure. Get a friend with a drum- or wide belt sander. When switching to the ROS, start with 60 or 80 grit
- Complete sanding up to 150 or 180 grit before routing.
- Make a template to route the handles. If you make two or more boards, that investment will pay for itself. A template with a guide bushing is much quicker than using an edge guide and stop blocks
- Use good, sharp router bits
- I've tried salad bowl finish, butcher block oil, mineral oil, and mineral oil + paraffin wax. Mineral oil is cheapest, leaves no smell, and seems to work really well. The paraffin wax helps slightly with sealing the wood but it has to be melted and is much harder to apply. I don't think it's worth it.

But, all in all, they're fairly easy to make, and they make great presents.
 

dkeller_nc

New User
David
I made a few of these out of solid soft maple (sorry - no interesting contrasting patterns and no pretty pictures, I just wanted to use up some scrap from a bench building project).

The comments you've heard about flattening the final result are completely accurate - end grain maple is so hard that it will remove the grit from almost any sandpaper, even sanding belts, without having any material effect on the surface. So this means alignment at the final glue-up is absolutely critical.

I'd strongly suggest making a set of panel clamps for this. You need them in any well-equipped shop anyway, and every 1/32nd out of alignment of the final surface means an hour of sanding.

To that end, I went back to my usual old-school methods. I wet the surface down with denatured alcohol, sharpened the bejesus out of a low-angle block plane blade, and went at it. I was kicking myself less than 3 minutes later for spending a solid hour and 5 sheets of 100 grit aluminum oxide sandpaper trying to do this. It took a total of 3 passes over the cutting board, and it was dead flat. And it was actually easy. All I have to say is that I'm finding less and less uses for sandpaper in the shop.
 

flatheadfisher

New User
Michael
I made a bunch of cutting boards last winter. I made all of mine small enough to fit into my planer. Sanding wasn't much of an issue - which was good because I used all kinds of exotics - bloodwood and Jatoba were the hardest. I also used hard maple.

I was frustrated with the walnut and cherry because even though the looked good, I'd sometimes find voids when I made the cuts. I generally made the pieces long enough so I'd have an extra or two if I needed it.

I sanded the last batch down to polishing grit and they really shined up great. I didn't finish them because everyone I gave boards to said they were too pretty to use.

Be sure your table saw blade is at 90 degrees:BangHead:

I used a dado blade to make the handles on the last batch. I am not too good with a router.

I have pictures on my website if you want to get some ideas - http://www.michaelayers.smugmug.com/Projects .
 

timf67

New User
Tim
I made 2 in the last 2 years, and as is always the case the second one went much smoother! I don't know what the wood whisperer method is, but I am sure it isn't too much different from what I did since there are only so many ways to make an endgrain glue-up. I used hard maple for the first and birch for the second. The birch was my favorite due to the contrast between heartwood and sapwood:



The most useful tool that I had was my 13" dewalt surface planer. which I used to true up each stage of the glue-up and then used it to prep the final surface for sanding. I went all the way to 600 grit by hand as it leaves a beautiful surface. I had several folks ask if it was some kind of wood-look plastic since it was sooooo smooth.:icon_thum

The best tips I can give you would be to use clamping cauls when gluing and only glue 2-3 strips together at once to make it easier to keep them flush. Also make sure you have a good ripping blade that leaves a glue ready surface. Finally as Bas mentioned, make or buy a good routing template for the rounded corners and the handle rebates. If you want to make a juice groove like I did, you may want to invest in a good router edge guide and maybe some valium to calm the nerves! :rotflm:
here is the maple one:



forgot to mention the finish! I make my own blend of beeswax and mineral oil. It is a great finish. You can also buy ready made beeswax and mineral oil blends made for cutting boards.
 

dkeller_nc

New User
David
Folks - Please do not pass an end-grain construction through a planer. Like many things safety related, just because you haven't had an accident doesn't mean it's safe. Because woods like maple and walnut split very easily along the grain, and the long-grain section is very thin on a cutting board (usually less than 1-1/2 inches), it is really dangerous to pass them through a planer. The wood can easily fracture along the long-grain lines, suck a big chunk into the planer heads, and cause what can only be described as an explosion that shatters the planer head and plastic/metal top construction of the planer - which sends shrapnel all over the shop at very high velocities.

It's really dangerous - don't do it!
 

timf67

New User
Tim
Folks - Please do not pass an end-grain construction through a planer. Like many things safety related, just because you haven't had an accident doesn't mean it's safe. Because woods like maple and walnut split very easily along the grain, and the long-grain section is very thin on a cutting board (usually less than 1-1/2 inches), it is really dangerous to pass them through a planer. The wood can easily fracture along the long-grain lines, suck a big chunk into the planer heads, and cause what can only be described as an explosion that shatters the planer head and plastic/metal top construction of the planer - which sends shrapnel all over the shop at very high velocities.

It's really dangerous - don't do it!
Thanks for the feedback! even though I only take light cuts and my boards are 2" thick, I will use my newly acquired drum sander:)tool:gloat!) in the future. :icon_thum
 

jlwest

Jeff
Corporate Member
End grain cutting boards are pretty however troublesome to seal. End grain loves to suck up stuff including food juices. So I do long grain boards. It can be done, and has been done, but consider the long term. Just my opinion.

Jeff :dontknow:
 

timf67

New User
Tim
End grain cutting boards are pretty however troublesome to seal. End grain loves to suck up stuff including food juices. So I do long grain boards. It can be done, and has been done, but consider the long term. Just my opinion.

Jeff :dontknow:
Using closed-grain woods like hard maple are actually very sanitary when used in the end-grain configuration. The end grain "self-heals" cuts from knives where-as the long grain does not. The end grain will llast much longer and the mineral oil/beeswax type coating does a great job of keeping the end-grain sealed. just my $0.02...
 

dkeller_nc

New User
David
Thanks for the feedback! even though I only take light cuts and my boards are 2" thick, I will use my newly acquired drum sander:)tool:gloat!) in the future. :icon_thum
Indeed - a drum or wide-belt sander is safe for this sort of construction. However, I do wonder whether the belt/roll of paper on the head would be completely trashed by this operation, at least on maple. It sure did a number on the 3M Aluminum oxide discs I had for my ROS.
 

Glennbear

Moderator
Glenn
Indeed - a drum or wide-belt sander is safe for this sort of construction. However, I do wonder whether the belt/roll of paper on the head would be completely trashed by this operation, at least on maple. It sure did a number on the 3M Aluminum oxide discs I had for my ROS.
In my limited experience with end grain sanding hardwoods I have used zirconia alumina (blue) discs/belts for the first grits. This material is available in grits up to 120. Much longer lasting than aluminum oxide for initial sanding. :wsmile:
 
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