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Indestructible Cutting Board

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Project by splintergroup posted 03-17-2016 06:26 PM 1212 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, maybe non-self destructing!

The board is end grain Hickory, about 20”x12”x1.25” thick

I was bored so a quick cutting board project seemed appropriate, but I wanted to experiment with construction methods and get something different.

Searching the LJ archives I found well over 100 pages of various style cutting boards, from the simplest to the most complex. I’ve always been paranoid about joint failure in the boards I have made (I’ve experienced a few), so I decided to make a board that would survive. Years ago I bought a commercial board, a ”Boos” brand. This thing is built like a tank, face grain rock Maple. The wood is basically impermeable to moisture, the long-grain glue joints all expand/contract in unison. Basically the ‘perfect’ board, yet boring and bland as it gets.

I’ve made fancier boards, but I never advertise them as anything more than a bread board or serving board. This implies they are not suited for wet areas and when they do fail (they all will eventually) they hopefully have served their purpose for years.

What makes a board survive? For this board I decided to consider what usually destroys a board and try to build around it.
In my opinion and in no particular order….

Long grain glue joints only

Glue doesn’t grab as well to end grain so I made sure only long fibers of the wood are glued. I also wanted lots of glue surface and mechanical connections. Splines were the answer to this. I also went so far as to keep face and edge grain glue joints segregated. This board is glued with TB3. I switched to epoxy from TB3 a few years ago since the TB3 makes a colored glue line and the epoxy gives me much longer working time to get everything aligned and into the clamps. The problem was that I would get some joint failures along the epoxy seams. I’d like a nice clear glue with some give, water proof, and a long working time. I haven’t found it yet…

No mixed species

This was a tougher decision. So many of the boards displayed on LJ use various woods to achieve incredible effects. If the two woods sharing a glue joint don’t react to moisture equally, the glue joints will experience a lot of shearing forces and eventually fail. Look at wood expansion tables some time and you will see that a typical sized board can grow/shrink a good part of an inch. If both woods don’t do the same, something has got to give. I could have chosen the standard rock Maple, but that is just too boring. I went with Hickory instead (the handles are Walnut). I get some interesting grain and still some protection from easy water infiltration. Having an end-grain board gets me even a bit more interesting wood figure out of the Hickory.

Keep the water away

Having a piece of wood sitting with one side in a puddle of water on a countertop is just asking for something to warp. This board uses ‘feet’ to keep the bottom out of any countertop puddles. Finger grooves are nice board features, they make the board easier to pick up and hold. I decided to integrate the feet with handles to kill two birds as they say. Since the board will expand up to 1/2” (based on an on-line wood expansion calculator), I needed to make sure the feet/handles would not bind up when this happens. These slots allow the motion to go on behind the scenes (stainless steel screws of course). Non-slotted screws in the center of the legs are used to keep the handles centered. Square plugs fill the screw holes and make the raised feet. Mineral oil (soaked for a week) will help fill the pores and keep water out for a while.

Make it nice

One thing most boards on LJ have going for them in terms of survival is they are just too darn purdy to trash up as a cutting board. I’d bet most of the boards end up on display or as a serving board in the center of the dining table. Keep a board from the water and take care of it, it will last; ergo I added a few embellishments just for fun (but they also help keep the board in one piece!). I used copper pins to help secure the through tenons in the handles.

So nothing fancy created here, just something that should survive better in a harsh environment compared to other boards I have made.

Thanks for looking!





12 comments so far

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

8352 posts in 2259 days


#1 posted 03-17-2016 06:32 PM

Very good and original solution. I hope it will last longer than usual end grain boards. I like those handles.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

646 posts in 614 days


#2 posted 03-17-2016 06:40 PM

Thanks Ivan!

View John's profile

John

408 posts in 662 days


#3 posted 03-17-2016 07:47 PM

That’s a beautiful cutting board, you have put a lot of thought and effort into it.

-- John, Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.

View XquietflyX's profile

XquietflyX

287 posts in 352 days


#4 posted 03-17-2016 07:53 PM

awesome job!!!

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7252 posts in 1399 days


#5 posted 03-17-2016 08:48 PM

Excellent ! I like it !
.
.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View AJ1104's profile

AJ1104

197 posts in 1051 days


#6 posted 03-18-2016 01:12 AM

Great idea using splines. I really like this board.

-- AJ, Long Island. New York

View Mas's profile

Mas

44 posts in 1654 days


#7 posted 03-18-2016 01:55 AM

Looks like you put a lot of work and thought into that cutting board. I bet you will get many years of use out of it.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

646 posts in 614 days


#8 posted 03-18-2016 01:04 PM

Thanks guys!

View cajfiddle's profile

cajfiddle

18 posts in 282 days


#9 posted 03-19-2016 04:14 AM

What do you think specifically contributed to the joint failure in some of your other boards? I’ve only made a handful of end grain boards (that had the rubber feet on them) and gave them all to chef friends that abuse the heck out of them and I haven’t really had any failure issues so far but I also stressed, even though they already knew all this, to keep the boards well oiled and out of standing water.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

646 posts in 614 days


#10 posted 03-19-2016 01:58 PM


What do you think specifically contributed to the joint failure in some of your other boards? I ve only made a handful of end grain boards (that had the rubber feet on them) and gave them all to chef friends that abuse the heck out of them and I haven t really had any failure issues so far but I also stressed, even though they already knew all this, to keep the boards well oiled and out of standing water.

- cajfiddle

It was what wood does when it gets wet.

My board failures were all along glue lines. With epoxy glue, the joints appeared to fail from repeated wood movement (expansion/contraction). This was with wood all of the same species, but a mix of quarter sawn and flat sawn boards. The expansion is different depending on how a board is cut with respect to the grain direction. The boards glued with TB3 failed on joints using different species, in these cases a combo of walnut, cherry, and maple. The TB3 boards only cracked at the ends, but enough to believe they eventually would separate there.
You gave the best advice, keep them oiled and don’t let them sit in a puddle of water. Your rubber feet are also very effective in keeping things dry.

With this board, I hoped to keep all these potential failure modes to a minimum.

View Greg D's profile

Greg D

238 posts in 1343 days


#11 posted 03-21-2016 03:54 PM

Great looking board! I’m digging the handle & feet design.

-- Greg D, Cen. CA, "Keep it on the Level, Do it Right the First Time!"

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

646 posts in 614 days


#12 posted 03-21-2016 04:54 PM

Thanks Greg!

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