Cutting Boards

Mother's Day cutting boards using basswood and African paduak

2018 is the first real Mother’s Day since I started woodworking and so I decided to try my hand at making cutting boards for my mom and mother-in-law this year.

The inspiration for the design I went with was a video I saw from King’s Fine Woodworking as well as the fact that African paduak offcuts were on sale at Woodcraft for awhile.

In addition to the several 18” strips of paduak, I’d purchased an 8 foot length of 8/4 basswood at Woodcraft as well to form the basis for the cutting boards. Those, along with the cherry and walnut off-cuts from the changing table formed the base of materials to work from.

Cutting board materials

First step was to mill all the wood to consistent dimenions so that I could start working on the designs. The plan was to use the 8/4 basswood as the bulk of the cutting surface due to the tightness of the fibers.

Rough-milled wood

The main constraint when deciding on an exact layout and design of each cutting board was the capacity of my planer. I use the Dewalt 735, which has a 13” width capacity and I wanted to ensure I could skip plane the result to smooth out whatever inconsistencies came out of the glue-up.

I also wanted to make the boards a little thicker- more of a butcher block thickness than a a thin board.

Laying out the designs

After glue-up I skip-planed to bring them to an even thickness, and then hit all sides with 100/120/220/320 grit on the orbital sander.

I made two with the same pattern, but decided to do some different details on each of them. One of the basswood pieces I used had a bit of live edge left on it so I sanded that into a unique front and left the other edges sharp (though knocked down a little). On the other board I did a 3/8” round over on all four sides.

Then I used a circular router bit to put hand-holds in the sides of each board.

Final sanding and hand-holds

Once the hand-holds were in I finished the other details and re-sanded everything up to 320 grit.

Round over on the sides and sanded hand-holds

For the finish, my coworker had suggested trying Tried & True so I picked up a quart. It’s food safe and is really nice to work with, and I’m definitely going to use it on some future projects.

First coat down on the cutting board

Reflections & Learning

This was an incredibly satisfying little project that I was able to do over a weekend, and it was a nice change-of-pace from the big changing table build right before the baby was born.

  • I wish I’d left the cherry out of the design, as it’s too in-the-middle of the other wood grains and I didn’t get the contrast I really wanted.
  • The Tried & True finish is something I’d use for any project that needs to be food-safe, or will be handled a lot by kids.
  • I’m going to save lots of off-cuts to try my hand at an endgrain cutting board based on the results I got from these.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma!

May 27th, 2018