Thursday, March 6, 2014

End Grain Cutting Board

My daughter was born last Tuesday. I've been spending a lot of time around the house helping out my wife and caring for the new little girl. I've somehow managed to get an extraordinary amount of work done over the last few weeks. Those of you that have gone through the modern process of having a child (this was my second) know that there's a lot of waiting around in the hospital. As a dad, this means watching mom and the new baby sleep. Then, when you do finally get home it's 30 minutes of chaos every few hours during feeding time, then more down time. I've re-factored the entire code base that generates the DARPA Open Catalog. https://github.com/ericwhyne/open-catalog-generator/

I even managed to sneak out into the garage for a few hours, clean it up and dive into a project. I ended up making two end grain cutting boards. One I sent home with my parents who were in town helping out with the new baby. The other is now in my kitchen. They were probably 4 or 5 hours total work, 3 of which was sanding and finishing.

This board is made out of 8/4 Maple and 8/4 Walnut with some Osage Orange left over from a bow project last year (archery bow). These are very close grained woods and lend themselves to this type of project. I had some purple heart and ebony laying around which would have worked great too but I decided not to sacrifice them for this project.

I didn't get the whole build process on film, just the last half. But, there are many videos about how to cut and glue these boards together.  The Wood Whisperer probably has the best one: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/how-to-make-a-butcher-block-cutting-board/ If you want to build your own, use his plans and tips. I didn't significantly change anything here except for the addition of some rubber feet. I put them on before I applied the mineral oil and wax; they seem to be sticking well. I did this because in a follow up video Marc Spagnuolo shows how his board cracked after laying in some standing water on the counter top.





Update 1: The board was glass smooth until the first time I wiped it off with a wet rag which raised the grain slightly. I suspected this was because I didn't apply enough mineral oil and wax the first time around. On my second application I applied a liberal amount of butcher block conditioner on the board (wax and mineral oil mix) and then swept over the board with a heat gun until as much of it was soaked up as I could get the board to take. It seems to be fully conditioned now, but I've read that I may have to do this several times.

Update 2: The sticky feet were a bad idea. I found some rubber feet on Amazon that shipped with prime. I pre-drilled some holes and put these on. They've been working perfectly for months now.


Update 3: With the lessons learned from this project, I later took my pieces of purpleheart and made another cutting board for my old neighbors. Here's a picture of that finished project.