End-grain Cheese Board

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Project by Maximillian posted 11-10-2012 07:10 AM 3265 views 25 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone, here’s my latest amateur project.
I followed the instructions of Mark Spagnall on the Wood Whisperer site in the making of the end-grain part. The rest is my innovation.
Mark makes making the end grain block so easy. I found it very challenging. Despite following his recommendations for cutting the blocks on a table saw and then gluing up, my block was not very even and I spent several hours with a belt sander to eventually smooth it down. I used Pink Birch for the end grain and man is it hard to sand. I think that if I make another cheese board I won’t worry about using end-grain as a cheese knife is unlikely to damage side grain to any great extent.
The last photo is the template I used to rout the curved sides and ends. I struggled with how to make the template, as I couldn’t find anything on-line. In the end I drew it in Sketchup and got my local bookshop to laser cut a piece of MDF – Much easier than cutting and sanding (I don’t have a bandsaw so I roughed out the curve using a lot of backsaw cuts and then used the template on my router table). My home-made logo was also laser-etched into the end piece.
I would appreciate any advice on the following:
1. easier ways of smoothing out end-grain boards. Even though I used a stop block on my table saw, each row of blocks was not identical. I understand that it is not a good idea to put end-grain through a thickness planer
2. I used a 1/2 inch router bit with guide following bearing. This did a good job of smoothing the sides on the “down” side of the curves but didn’t do such a good job on the “climb side. I had to use 60 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. Any idea on how I can avoid having to sand?
3. I note everyone uses “mineral oil”. Here in New Zealand, I have been unable to find anyone who knows what this is. In the end I used Rustins Woodworking oil, which is very expensive. Is mineral oil known by any other name? I imagine car engine oil is “mineral oil”, but I don’t think I will be using that anytime soon.
As a novice all advice would be gratefully received.

-- Max, New Zealand

20 comments so far

View Falconwood's profile


33 posts in 2369 days

#1 posted 11-10-2012 09:15 AM

Hi Max, lovely job there !!
Mineral oil is also know as “paraffin oil” or “liquid paraffin”, which in it’s pure form is commonly used as baby oil, so should be available at your local chemist.
Another option in your neck of the woods is the “FoodSafe Plus” by U-Beaut products in Australia.
Hope that helps.

-- If you can't be good at it !!!!!

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2551 days

#2 posted 11-10-2012 01:22 PM

I think you did a beautiful job on this. I really like it a lot. Cant help ya on any of the questions. Again, a great job on this….it turned out really nice.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29870 posts in 2481 days

#3 posted 11-10-2012 02:10 PM

Very attractive

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3608 days

#4 posted 11-10-2012 06:08 PM

nice design. i like the slot for the crackers :)

For thicknessing, I think using a router sled would work quite well. After that, it would be only finish sanding. That’s definitely the way I would go, although some people have had some success with a planer, god knows how!

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3720 days

#5 posted 11-10-2012 06:18 PM

Cool design and nice work,I like it a lot.

Mineral oil in the states is a laxative that is sold in drug stores.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Maximillian's profile


84 posts in 3424 days

#6 posted 11-10-2012 07:18 PM

Thanks everyone.
So, mineral oil is paraffin. I wonder why no one here knew that. It would have saved me a lot of money as it is waaaaaaaay cheaper than the stuff I used.
Thanks for the advice on the router sled. I have now found a ton of info on how to build one. Once I have sorted through all of that, building one will be my next project – I love a challenge (nullus illegitimi carborundum)

-- Max, New Zealand

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3720 days

#7 posted 11-10-2012 07:42 PM

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 2547 days

#8 posted 11-10-2012 10:28 PM

Ditto on the cracker slot, an excellent design feature. Good or temporary waste storage when cutting say, vegetables, as well.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

View TurnTurnTurn's profile


614 posts in 3253 days

#9 posted 11-10-2012 11:43 PM

I took this guys advice (see link) and reluctantly put an end grain cutting board through my planer and voila, it worked nicely, but you must take very light cuts. I have used this method multiple times and (knock on wood), I have not had a problem.

-- TurnTurnTurn

View TurnTurnTurn's profile


614 posts in 3253 days

#10 posted 11-10-2012 11:44 PM

....and BTW, your boards looks great

-- TurnTurnTurn

View TheOldWoodworker's profile


31 posts in 2957 days

#11 posted 11-11-2012 12:21 AM

Great job, I like the dual purpose of the board

View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

129 posts in 2501 days

#12 posted 11-11-2012 03:32 AM

This is extremely nice! I am always making small gifts for friends, etc…I think I may make this for me! I eat cheese and crackers a lot! Haha.

Maybe this is a silly question, but how did you make the cracker area? I mean, the cylinder shape?

View wiser1934's profile


524 posts in 3290 days

#13 posted 11-11-2012 04:04 AM

my question is the same as chris’s. any help appreciated what are the dimensions of this board??

-- wiser1934, new york

View Maximillian's profile


84 posts in 3424 days

#14 posted 11-11-2012 05:53 AM

Hi Chris and Wiser
Someone asking me how to do something – that’s got to be a first
I used a “bowl” router bit to create the channel in a block of wood. I got a 2 ” bit from Linbide, which is a New Zealand manufacturer of cutting tools (They must be the last manufacturer of anything left in this country) – Have a look at They do mail order.
I made a series of small passes on the router table. Because the bit is 50mm and standard crackers are 55mm in diameter I shifted the fence a little to widen the slot.
I hope that helps and look forward to seeing what you come up with

-- Max, New Zealand

View Maximillian's profile


84 posts in 3424 days

#15 posted 11-11-2012 06:33 AM

Oops, I should have said Marc Spagnuolo – Mi dispiace Marco

-- Max, New Zealand

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