7 – How to Make an End Grain Cutting Board (Part 1 of 2)

welcome to episode 7 of the Wood Whisperer video podcast I'm your host Marc Spagnuolo and on today's episode we're going to make this awesome end grain cutting board now whether you make this as a gift or you plan on using it in your very own kitchen this durable and extra fancy cutting board will serve as an excellent project for honing your woodworking skills now as you probably already know cutting boards come in several varieties first there's plastic please now just as a disclaimer I don't really recommend throwing your wife's cutting boards around the shop there's also your standard wood cutting board now something like this little guy is a long grain cutting board they're very popular and they can be inexpensive due to the fact that they're easy to make they suffice for most standard kitchen tasks but if you're anything like me standard just isn't good enough and that's where end grain cutting boards come in this colossal kitchen companion is heavy its durable and if made properly it can be a gorgeous addition to your kitchen decor so you might be wondering why we care so much about end grain well end grain boards are much easier on your knives they're much more durable and they tend to hide your knife marks better now let's use this paintbrush as an example the bristles here represent a bundle of wood fibres now on a long grain board we're constantly chopping across the grain that could lead to cracks in the board and possibly even pieces of the board being dislodged it's also a lot tougher on the knife now endgrain on the other hand is much more forgiving the blade will chop down between the fibers giving it a nice soft cushion and when the blades pulled out the fibers will spring right back into position now the traditional wood of choice for cutting boards is hard maple it's also referred to as rock maple hard maple is well it's hard and it has a very tight grain structure which means less places for bacteria to hide now to make our cutting board I'm using two woods maple and Purple Heart I chose Purple Heart primarily for its color but fortunately the South American hardwood is also very dense and Thai grained now there's a lot of other woods out there that you can use to make a cutting board just be sure to avoid woods that are open grained oily or soft before we get started I just want to quickly mention that if you follow these plans exactly you should end up with a board that's approximately 18 inches long by 12 inches wide by about an inch and a quarter thick so without any further delay to get started we need to mail some eight quarter Purple Heart and eight quarter maple stock down to an inch and 5/8 thick and also 15 and a half inches long we then need to rip these pieces to the following widths two and a quarter inches one and three quarters of an inch one and one-quarter inch and three-quarter inch when it's all said and done we should have two pieces of each width one from maple and one from Purple Heart next we need to arrange the borders for our initial glue up each board is in descending order with the largest piece toward the outside now notice how I also alternate the maple and the Purple Heart before I apply the glue I turn every piece but the last one ninety degrees to the left so that the glue surface is faced up and then spread a generous amount of glue on each face using an ink roller I ensure a nice even coat notice that I'm only applying glue to one face this is a great time saver when I've got a lot of boards to worry about just be sure to apply a generous amount of glue so is a good idea to throw the roller into a bucket of water so that the glue doesn't dry on the rubber surface once the boards are in position I apply just enough clamping pressure to hold the boards in place next I clamp two calls across the face of the board this ensures the board will stay as flat as possible now here's a quick tip cover the business end of your calls with clear packing tape to prevent the glue from sticking to the call lastly I add a third clamp to the middle of the glue up just to ensure even clamping pressure let's just take a second or two to talk about glue now you can use just about any water-resistant glue to glue up a cutting board but since I like to play it safe I prefer a glue that's FDA approved for indirect food contact so just type on two or even type on three now I know some polyurethane glues like gorilla glue or also FDA approved but these glues are messy sticky and they're expensive so I stick with my time-tested favorite type on two so let's take a look at our glued up board now you see all this squeeze out over here this is actually a good thing it tells me that we've got good surface to surface contact at each and every joint the last thing we want a cutting board is a glue start now to get the excess glue off without creating more problems for ourselves later on I recommend waiting about thirty minutes and then scraping the glue off this prevents the glue from spreading over the surface and into the adjacent grain now we're going to let this guy dry overnight before we actually start to smooth the surface to flatten the glued up board I prefer to use my planer or my drum sander but you could just as easily use a block plane a scraper or a random orbit sander just make sure you get a nice flat surface now we could stop right here I mean this is a pretty attractive board as it is but we're going to take this puppy to the next level by exposing the endgrain through a second round of cuts I like to start by using my miter gauge to clean up one edge I then start cutting the board into 1 and 1/4 inch strips watch your hands and be sure to use your favorite push stick for this operation when it's all said and done we should have 11 1 and a quarter inch strips now here's the really cool part all we have to do is turn each piece 90 degrees to expose the end grain and we're actually going to create a very interesting pattern basically if you take every other strip flip it around like this we get the pattern we're looking for now all we need to do is glue these pieces together just like we did the first time spreading the glue this time is very simple just turn every strip but the last one 90 degrees to the left spread a generous amount of glue over the entire surface then reassemble the boards on the clamps in the proper order I'd like to use a couple of my calls to make sure the boards are lined up perfectly and then I use them to keep the board flat as I add a little bit of clamping pressure just like during the first glue up I use the tape covered calls and several clamps to keep the board nice and flat now that we've done our final glue up we're going to let this guy sit in the clamps overnight now in part two of our podcast I'll show you how to use a router to create some nice hand hold and I'll show you how to put the finishing touches on the cutting board in the meantime don't forget to visit the website at www.ge.com and don't forget to check out the Wood Whisperer store after producing each podcast I'm going to update the store so that it features specific items of interest from the most recent episode so until next time live long and prosper

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