Checkered cutting board for a MacKenzie Childs nut

  • Advertise with us
Project by dotScott posted 01-03-2014 12:14 AM 2354 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I went a little crazy making cutting boards for Christmas gifts this year. This particular board is comprised of Black Walnut and birds-eye maple in 1 inch squares. My aunt is a MacKenzie-Childs fanatic and I thought this would be a perfect compliment to her collection. I used some of the cut-offs to create a matching stand (didn’t get a good pic of that item unfortunately). I added their last name to the checkers using my CNC machine but that is the only time the CNC touched it. I know there are a lot of CNC “haters” out there but to me it’s just another tool and used when appropriate. 99.999% of the rest of the work was done the good-ole-fashioned way. I paid particular attention to getting the checkers aligned properly.

This is one of my first cutting boards and I’ve had a ton of requests for new boards. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions for speeding the process. I’m making some bow cauls to reduce the number of clamps required as well as making a clamping rack.

Happy New Year to all!

3 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3808 days

#1 posted 01-03-2014 12:17 AM

Perfectly executed !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View davidmackv's profile


317 posts in 1768 days

#2 posted 01-03-2014 02:11 AM

Great job. I am still learning how to get all my strips of wood the same size like that. I think my table saw is not accurate enough.

View dotScott's profile


16 posts in 2441 days

#3 posted 01-03-2014 03:43 PM

I’m not sure that you need a terribly accurate table saw as long as you’re able to create the strips equally using something like a strip gauge. This article from is an excellent example and would work for cutting board strips as well. The key is the planer or drum sander. If you don’t have either of these then it’s really difficult to achieve perfect squares. If you do have a planer, then it’s relatively simple. Plane all your stock (walnut and maple in this example) to exactly the thickness you want your pieces to be wide on the face of your cutting board. I say exactly as it’s really an arbitrary thickness but you’ll need to be able to recreate this thickness plus a little extra when cutting your strips.

For this example and the board above, I planed all my stock to 1 inch. I then set off to cutting the strips out of each of the walnut and maple slightly over 1 inch, I think I cut them to 1 1/8” to allow for planing smooth after glue up. After cutting each strip, it’s a good practice to keep them aligned exactly as they come off the board to keep the grain and dimension consistent. After you’ve cut all your stock into strips and have them laid out just as you cut them, take a pencil and number the strips on the end grain. The side grain will be the cut edge at 1 1/8” and the face grains will be the smooth planed surface at exactly 1 inch. The reason I number the pieces is to play with the arrangement of the end grains, alternating it and trying different combinations. The numbering shows me both the orientation from the original position and the sequence. If you don’t like it the arrangement, you can simply put them back in order and try something else.

Now from your strips (I’m assuming they are all face grain down after cutting and numbering) turn them 90 degrees so the side grain is facing up. Alternate strips of (in this case) walnut and maple, making sure you start with one and end with the other, (ie, first strip is walnut and last is maple). This is the way you’ll glue them up. A neat trick I learned to speed up the gluing process is to keep the left-most strip with the side grain up and then flip all the other strips 90 degrees to the right onto their face grain. Make sure they are laying next to each other and butted up tight. Now simply spread glue over all the face grain edges and smooth it out over all the strips. This is much faster than gluing each strip individually. To assemble the glued pieces, simply reverse the process and all your glue edges will be set to match to the previous strips unglued edge. Simple and fast! Clamp and let set.

After set up is complete, time to move over to the planer. Plane your newly created strip panel down to exactly 1 inch (or whatever your first dimensional thickness you planed your stock to). Again I saw exactly loosely as this dimension is not critical unless you have OCD like me. You’ll need to take this over to your table saw and cross cut the strips into widths that will determine the overall thickness of your cutting board. This dimension is not critical to equal sized squares on the face of the board but needs to be consistent when cutting the strips to prevent unnecessary leveling and finish sanding. I went with 1 1/16 to give myself 1/16 play and ability to sand smooth.

Once you have all your crosscut strips made, simply flip every other strip end-to-end so that the process creates the checkerboard pattern you’re looking for. All your corners will line up perfectly and be of equal size!

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics