Cutting board problems

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Blog entry by kram2001ca posted 01-07-2008 04:26 AM 695 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been making end grain cutting boards for a few months now, without any problems until now. I have been using rock maple and purpleheart, and finishing them with mineral oil and a proper beeswax finish. Recently i made 2 and sent them by airplane to my sister in Ottawa. They were fine perfect before they were shipped, but when they arrived, apparently they were almost as if they werent completely finished sanded. Any ideas on what might have caused this??? Also another one that I made, after a week or so, the joins began to rise in the boards. They didnt seperate at all, just rise. I would appreciate any input anyone may have on this.

10 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4425 days

#1 posted 01-07-2008 04:32 AM

Could be moisture and raised grain.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View kram2001ca's profile


8 posts in 3818 days

#2 posted 01-07-2008 04:52 AM

Do you think it may have been triggered from travelling on an airplane???

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4061 days

#3 posted 01-07-2008 05:00 AM

Airplanes are dryer than popcorn toots, it may have been, but if they were finished with a lot of oil and then wax, I don’t see how. However, there is no denying that they had some ill effect with shipping.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#4 posted 01-07-2008 05:09 AM

Regarding the one with the risen joints….did you use biscuits? I’ve heard they can continue to swell for a while from absorbing moisture from the glue.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View kram2001ca's profile


8 posts in 3818 days

#5 posted 01-07-2008 02:09 PM

No, there were no biscuits used in it at all. Just straight glue joins.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4076 days

#6 posted 01-07-2008 04:07 PM

Having been transported on an airplane they could have been subjected to temprature extremes as well as altitude changes. I guess it depends on the way they were transported in the aircraft.

-- Hope Never fails

View Sawdustmaker's profile


295 posts in 3822 days

#7 posted 01-07-2008 05:09 PM

I think the water content in the wood is the problem as well. One of the building blocks of water is oxygen and the partial pressures at sea level or where ever these boards were built is far more than at 40 thousand feet. To understand this point, give a scuba diver a large balloon and instruct him to take it to 100 feet and blow a small amount of air in the balloon, tie a knot to prevent the air from escaping and let the balloon go. By the time the balloon reaches the surface the balloon will increase dramatically ie. 15” or so because the partial pressure on the surface in far less than 100 feet down. Even if there is a small amount of moisture in the wood, it will expand and as it escapes the wood, which might explain the defect in the finish you’ve applied to your cutting boards. Another way for the water to expand the wood would be due to temperture as well due to freezing. Many cargo holds are not heated.

-- Brian, Virginia Beach

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4150 days

#8 posted 01-07-2008 08:32 PM

Although airplanes run at lower cabin pressures than sea level atmospheric pressure, I believe that the cargo holds are still pressurized, otherwise you’d see all sorts of issues with people leaving shampoo in checked baggage. Similarly, I can’t believe that they’d let the cargo holds run any colder than the passenger compartment. It should be roughly the equivalent of sea level to Denver, but I’m fairly sure that they’re not running the cargo holds completely unpressurized at 35,000 feet.

So there may be some pressure component to your problems, but as other posters here have mentioned, I’d suspect moisture issues.

How fine are you sanding before you apply your finish? Maybe go to 150 grit or so, apply your oil coat, wait a day or two to let that soak in, then do your finish sanding and another finish coat after that? My sweety recently made some wood pieces that she sanded to 400 before she put on shellac, and she had trouble getting the shellac to stick, where if she’d done the first coat at a lower grit, then done her finish sanding, she’d have given the finish a better chance to soak in.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View kram2001ca's profile


8 posts in 3818 days

#9 posted 01-08-2008 12:48 AM

I would just like to thank everyone for all of the suggestions as to what my problem may have been. Thjis site seems to very helpful, especially to new woodworkers like myself.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4008 days

#10 posted 01-08-2008 12:54 AM

my guess is the woods used expands at different rates due to water content. not sure there is anything that can be done about it other then resanding the boards. I personnally wouldn’t be concerned.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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