Cutting board twisted... how to flatten?

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Forum topic by DavidATX posted 12-17-2013 02:14 PM 4645 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DavidATX's profile


25 posts in 1766 days

12-17-2013 02:14 PM

Hi lumber boys and girls! I have been making cutting boards lateley, to the tune of about 35 of them and all have been nice and flat after my glue up and planing them down but the one I took out last night has a twist even after I ran it through the planer. It is just a simple edge grain board that is 12”x18” and 1.25” thick. I don’t think the twist came out even as it went through the planer. I am trying to ship it on Wednesday and was wondering if there was a quick and easy way to flatten it? There are no feet on the board. Thanks for the tips and tricks! Also, any idea of what I did wrong or do you have a good way for me to set my glue ups up so they come out flat? Maybe this one was just a fluke.. Anyways, thanks again!

12 replies so far

View kdc68's profile


2649 posts in 2241 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 02:49 PM

I don’t think you will be able to remove the twist using the planer alone. The planer alone would only produce a uniform thickness even with a twist. But if you use a carrier board that is perfectly flat and set your board on it wedging into place twist side up. Make a pass or two removing the twist, then remove from carrier board, and plane the other side. Another option would be to use a hand plane and winding sticks to remove the twist from one side and surface planning the other.
Clamping cauls are helpful to get a flat surface during glue ups. Alternating clamps underneath and over the top help distribute even clamping across the surface.
A jig like the one in the photo helped me create my basket weave cutting boards. Made from a couple layers of MDF. Cleats screwed in at 90 degrees forming one corner. Covered in wax paper. More details in the project link. Since making this one board in the project post, I’ve made three more using the same jig.
Good luck and hope you make your deadline!

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View DavidATX's profile


25 posts in 1766 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 02:56 PM

Thanks kdc! I like the jig and need to construct something like that for my future glue ups.
What would a carrier board be? Just a flat piece of mdf? Just set my board on top of that with some double stick tape?

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3613 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 03:02 PM

a planer by itself won’t straighten your (or any) board. a planer only planes a surface parallel to the opposite surface, so if your board is cupped/swisted, it will still be just as cupped/twisted after the planer – but it will maintain consistent thickness.

to remedy this you can use a planer sled (this is only because you have an edge-grain cutting board. for end-grain I would advice against using a planer at all). you can search online for that – you use a long straight sled as your base to thickness agains, you then place your board on top of the sled, and shim it where it is twisted, so that the board won’t move as it passes through the planer. you then run the board through the planer, and it will thickness the board parallel to your sled – if the sled is straight, your board will straighten as well. once 1 side is nice and flat, you can remove the sled, flip your board, and plane the opposite side – keep in mind – this will make your board thinner – the more twist you have, the thinner it will end up being.

another option is to use a router sled – which is also great for end-grain boards. (look it up)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View kdc68's profile


2649 posts in 2241 days

#4 posted 12-17-2013 03:05 PM

David....I believe PurpLev provided a more detailed explanation to what I posted above. He calls it a sled, I call it a carrier board, just different terminology but with the same outcome…His advice is right on target…

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View grenger's profile


199 posts in 3331 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 03:06 PM

what about using a drum sander?

-- Gerry (the beginner), Gatineau, QC, Canada

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3069 days

#6 posted 12-17-2013 03:08 PM

Because most of my wood gets chewed up by my planer, I use my 6’x48’ belt sander. I lay it flat and rock it to see which corners are high. I mark where the twist is and sand those two corners flat. Then I flip the board and flatten the opposite two corners. Then resand the whole board.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2741 days

#7 posted 12-17-2013 03:17 PM

David – using a straight edge, you may want to figure out how bad the twist is. If this a 1” board and the twist is bad enough, you could end up with a 1/2” cutting board.

If it is a small amount, and is an end grain board, a Low Angle jointing plane works well to flatten a cutting board. If the twist is bad, cut the board at the bottom of the twist, re joint the edges square to the board and re glue. This will reduce the twist to what you can manage and it creates an interesting effect, especially if you turn one side upside down – which can remove more of the twist depending upon how the twist runs.

Since you are making the boards, the ways to fix are greatly enhanced – or you can cut it into smaller pieces and make cheese boards.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Biff's profile


126 posts in 1978 days

#8 posted 12-17-2013 03:22 PM

I always put rubber feet on my boards so they dry after washing and dont slip on the counter while in use. I usually use the self-adhesive, “gummy” ones with a drop of CA. When my board wobbles a bit I just sand the feet slightly. Beats refinishing a board!

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View DavidATX's profile


25 posts in 1766 days

#9 posted 12-17-2013 05:09 PM

Thanks for the responses and ideas. I am going to use the sled/carrier board to see if I can get it ironed out. I appreciate the help!!

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2213 days

#10 posted 12-17-2013 05:21 PM

An easier way to flatten it is to re-glue it. Rip a glue line in the middle of the board and re-clamp it. Make sure the bottom is dead flat and the top will have the defect. Now run it rhough your planer until the top is clean. Draw pencil lines. Once there are no more pencil marks. flip the board and run it through a few times to mirror the other edge.


View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2037 days

#11 posted 12-17-2013 06:03 PM

Op says ,”Maybe this one was just a fluke.” This may be the thing. When doing production runs it always reminds me that this is after all wood, and sometimes it is just going to twist and do stuff you don’t want it to. It isn’t a fluke, it is part of the process. Assuming you just did 30 boards, and only one went wild on you, it sounds like your techniques aren’t at fault. The planing sled may not help if the board has a lot of tension in the wood, and may just twist up again. By all means it is a technique that can work, and a good one to try and learn, but if you really have to ship right away, I would also prepare to start over on that one. In a run that large I have learned to set up for a few extras.. to account for the ones that get away from ya.

-- Who is John Galt?

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2741 days

#12 posted 12-17-2013 06:33 PM

Walnut is one of those species that can have a lot of tension.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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