I am thinking about doing an end-grain cutting board for my parents but would like to use hand tools to do it. I would use the bandsaw to rip the pieces down close to size, but would like to use hand tools for the rest of the project. What techniques and tools would you use to do an end-grain cutting board in this manner or is it even possible without spending a month of Sundays getting finished?
I made one using a combination of hand tools and power tools.
Is it possible with only hand tools (and band saw)? Yes.
Without spending a month of sundays? Probably not.
You can reduce the amount of work with careful planning and preparation, but no matter what, you’re going to be planing a LOT of end grain.
That was my thinking as well and was hoping with some degree of pessimism that someone out there would have some good suggestions or experience to give advice that would reduce the amount of time for finishing the the project. Thanks for the response and feedback.
Without having any idea of the size of board you are talking about, it’s a bit difficult to judge. Also, are you talking about large squares, like a butchers block, or complete sections of a board. If the latter, then you could get a lot of the planing done on the shooting board before you did the glue up (and the glue up is easier, as you only need pressure in one direction, not two).
A few thoughts, for whatever they may be worth.
Assuming the cutting board will look similar to square end grain flooring (please see attached photo of a cutting board along this), my experience is too not fall for the temptation of going for a very large one. My two are cut -offs from end grain flooring production, and are 24″ x 16″ x 2″, which make them a bit heavy and quite unwieldy to clean.
The chessboard project seems to be one possible approach:
1. Rip suitable boards towards square cross section. As Colin points out, a shooting board will help a lot. The cross section should therefore probably be <1¾”, to assure the plane iron will take complete shaving. My left arm informs me that the effort increases exponentially with edge height.
2. Use a jig, akin to the one in the chessboard project to assure flatness and squareness.
3. Edge joint the pieces (cauls to keep them flat and parallel?)
4. Use shooting board to get one end face (edge) straight and square.
5. Use a bench hook with a 90° saw guide and a stop to cross cut off the rows of the cutting board
6. Repeat 4 and 5 until end.
7. Use the jig mentioned in 2 above to get those edges not planed in the shooting board, to dimension.
8. Joint the rows (once again perhaps also using cauls to reduce final end grain planing)
The boards I have are from white oak (Querqus Alba), with quite wide pores. After due considerations of what kind of protein rich juices could go into those pores while cutting up a filet steak – converting the pores to small Petri dishes – I decided on a good soaking in food stable oil. While PubMed does not seem to have any references on the long-term health outcomes from food stable oil on cutting boards, the reference list on health issues caused by what grows in Petri dishes appears to be without limit.
As said: for whatever.
I don’t plan on doing a large cutting board just something small for the parents to be able to use on their counter when cutting meat or vegetables and store away easily in small spaces. Probably no bigger than 18″X12″X1″. Thank you for the replys I definitely planned on using a shooting board and bench hook with saw guide. I also plan on setting up a planing jig to ensure all my pieces are planed to the exact same size and all four sides are square to each other.
My concern is planing the cutting board after the final glue up so the top and bottom surfaces are flat and parallel to each other, which will be the end grain of the pieces. I know I can get my peices close with the shooting board but I have been doing woodworking for a long time and am not under any false pretense that my glue up will be so perfect that it will not need a final planing or sanding to flatten the surfaces.
I do plan on gluing each row first then doing a glue up with all the rows together. So I can clean up each row prior to gluing them together which will help to some degree for sure. I know it wil be a lot of work for sure. For power tools I have a table saw, band saw, and compound miter saw that are all good high quality tools. I do not own a thickness planer, or any sanders with the exception of a couple orbital hand sanders.
Thank you for your feed back Colin Scowen and Sven-Olof Jansson I appreciate the confirmation that my thought process is in line with others. That helps me tremedously and boosts my confidence on pulling of this project.
Why worry about getting both sides flat and parallel? If you put two battens across the bottom, round the ends and sides, scoop a few shavings out of the middle of each with a spokeshave, then you can just level those 4 psuedo feet. Then, since the top side is the only one that will be seen, you can just sand the bottom, rather than perfectly smoothing it.
And, if you are running short of time, then, instead of squares, just cut strips. I have seen something like this on Canadian Woodworking. If I see it again, I’ll send you the link in a message, but it basically goes like this:
Flatten a board, plane the other side parallel, then cross cut in to 1 inch wide strips, rotate them ninety degrees, and glue them together.
I haven’t seen this mentioned here, but I believe to be common practice to glue long strips into a wide board and then cross cut that board, flip each cut so the end grain is up and then glue them together.
https://youtu.be/DYu37-vyMLA (start at around 6:00 for the glueing)
Roberto Fischer that would be correct. The long strips glued together and cross cut is how you get the pattern you desire for the cutting board. As far as the process of making the board itself I am fully aware and understand. If I had the big sanders and planers that most people use for them or for that matter wanted to use one (I have acces to them if I wanted to use them) the question would not be posed. The question is if anyone has a good method of finishing the end grain of the cutting board after it is fully glued up with hand tools that would not take a month of Sundays. Some of the suggestions here are along the same thought process I have had already and it has been good to hear that feedback. I appreciate your response and the video to explain the process thank you very much.
Flattening the top of the finished board is going to be a lot of work, unless you use a drum sander.
I got mine reasonably flat with a powered router mounted on a sled, and then started planing it. After several nights of 1-2 hour sessions, I tried a belt sander and a random orbital sander. However, the paper kept clogging, so I went back to planing
When it was reasonably flat (remember it’s a cutting board, not a surface plate), I smoothed out the planing marks with some Mirka Abranet, which resists clogging somewhat.
I then cut the handles and juice groove with the router, and sanded those as well.
I’ glad you’re not planning to run it through a planer. There are many horror stories on the internet of exploding or airborne cutting boards and destroyed planers.
Colin I regret that I have not had time to work in my shop since posting this thread. Your board looks very nice and I will hopefully get some time in the next week or two to get out in the shop and do a little work. I want to get the cuttingboard done and I plan on building an armoires style jewelry box out of walnut for my wife.
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