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Side Grain Cutting Boards


Here, for your edification, is a collection of photos of a number of different side-grain cutting boards which I have made over the past number of years. It is my hope that some of these photos will inspire and delight.

I find that side-grain cutting boards are typically quick and fun projects. It is rare that I don't make some each year. They help us use up pieces of wood that are too small for most projects, but too nice to throw out. I typically make three or four at one time. Making several isn't much more work than just making one, and having an extra cutting board (or two) on hand gives you a few "emergency" presents for those unexpected events.

A lot of the fun is in the planning. I like to use lots of different woods, and I try to come up with something that is visually pleasing, and has interesting colouration and patterns. I sometimes will pair strips, so that there is a mirrored effect. Another technique is to cut progressively skinnier pieces and arrange them in order.

Oddly enough, I don't seem to have any current photos of cutting boards being glued and clamped. Instead, here is a photo from one of my canoe paddle making projects. ( Paddle Project #1, Paddle Project #2 ) The clamping technique is the same: glue is spread on both sides of the hardwood strips and they are clamped together.

I always need to make sure the strips are wider than needed, as after the clamping the piece is planed down to finish thickness.

As you browse the photos... the pale wood is usually hard maple. Along with that you might see reddish strips of cherry, or rich brown strips of black walnut. The dark red is usually padauk, though sometimes redheart (chakte kok). Amd finally if you see something that looks quite yellow, it is yellowheart (Pau Amarello) -- which is unique in that it does not change colour as it ages.

As you can see there are many things you can do to customize your boards. Varying the thickness and length makes a big difference. Also you can add a finger hole of varying diameter and position. On the thicker boards you can add a hand hold along the sides or bottom.
The board on the right, with the recessed area, is partly based on one of Steve Ramsay's (/ and I have to say that excavating that area is a real pain in the neck.

These two cutting boards also had me going in a new direction. The one pictured below has two wide boards of quarter-sawn white oak. The one on the left (below) features a few strips of elm, just for fun.

For finish, I use a salad bowl finish from Lee Valley tools, which is a mixture of beeswax and boiled linseed oil. It is easy to wipe on, and buffs in to a great shine. Also, in future it is easy to re-apply, should you wish to reinvigorate your finish.


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