|Project by Don Broussard||posted 08-01-2014 11:25 PM||2405 views||7 times favorited||28 comments|
I had posted a question a while back here on LJs about building advice on a crossword puzzle cutting board and I did get one helpful reply on wood choices. I couldn’t find a project via LJ searches for a project like this, nor on the broader www, so I decided to try it myself.
My Mom is a big crossword puzzle fan, and her 84th birthday is coming up. I chose maple (thanks, Jeff!) for the light cells and walnut (thanks, Marty!) for the dark cells. The process was to cut the walnut and maple into square sticks, then cut into billets with a length of twice the desired finished board thickness plus a blade kerf plus a little extra. My target was to make a 5/4 thick board so each billet was cut about 2-3/4” long.
Crossword puzzles are symmetrical about the center cell, and consist of equal amount of rows and columns of an odd number. The most common number of rows and columns are 15 and 23. Most daily crosswords are 15’s and Sundays are 23’s. I chose 13 since the board will be used in an RV so the smaller size was called for. After cutting the billets, I arranged them in the crossword pattern then glued up each row separately with Titebond II—that was 7 separate glue-ups. By the way, it’s no accident that the design included a cross.
After these glue-ups were solid, I removed them from the clamps and flattened the edges in preparation for the next cut and gluing operation. Next was cutting the individual rows in half, flipping the rows as needed to maintain the symmetry. Rows 1 was left as is, and its partner Row 13 was flipped end for end, followed by Row 2 left as cut and flipped Row 12, then the same for 3 and 11, 4 and 10 and so on.
Due to some slippage and shifting during the overall glue-up, the vertical alignment was off by about 1/8”, or a blade kerf. When preparing the single-kerf dado cut for the grid (walnut), I had to cut where the vertical offset would be included in the kerf, which resulted in the cells being different sizes.
I brought the large glue-up to a friend of mine with a drum sander to flatten the board. We also used his drum sander to size the strips to match the blade kerf width. The depth of cut was 3/16” and the strips were cut 1/4” thick. After gluing up the grid in one direction, I brought the board back to sand the strips flat (after I cut the down a bit with a hand plane) and cut the grid in the cross direction. My final trip this morning was to sand down the new cross grid and round the corners.
Final sanding was with 120- and 220-grit on the RO sander, wipe down with a tack cloth and finish with a couple of coats of mineral oil.
Mom was pretty happy, I must say! I asked her to make like she was solving the cutting board, and she complied.
1. Need to be more precise in the milling of the strips. My strips weren’t square so every cell in the puzzle was also not square.
2. Take care during clamping to not shift the blocks. Alignment issues are difficult to correct. I plan to make a jig to ensure glue-ups are both square and flat and provide for clamping above and below the jig.
3. Having a friend with a drum sander is a wonderful thing!
4. Gluing up long grain perpendicular to other long grain in a dado is a bit of an experiment. I tried a full-depth strip with this Proof of Technique Trivet project recently and it seemed to work okay. I left it my hot truck for several days and it didn’t blow up.
5. Even though I told her that the cutting board was meant for her to actually use, I have a feeling that it will end up stuck to her refrigerator, much like my school work in my younger days . . .
Thanks for reading and for the encouragement! A special shout out to Jeff for the challenge, the advice and for the maple. Second shout out to Marty for the walnut, already planed and jointed S4S. Thanks, guys!
-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!