FAQs for Mr M’s Woodshop   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---Large1. Do you make these yourself? There are two answers possible here: “Yes, ma’am” or “Yes, sir.”

2. Are these cutting boards? Ummm … yes. Well, mostly. There are some serving pieces, as well as some game boards on the way. But you could use them all for cutting, if you’re so inclined.

3. These are different strips of wood? Yes, these are strips of different kinds of wood, all shown in their natural color. I don’t use dyes or stains; all wood is all natural.

Glue-up in progress.

Glue-up in progress.

4. How do you hold the boards together? I glue them together using an FDA-approved glue called Titebond III. That glue is actually stronger than the wood. When I have an end cut that’s waste, I’ll always break it to test the joints … and the glue joint never breaks. The wood always breaks first. This is very strong glue, much stronger than craftsmen had 20 years or 200 years ago, when craftsmen used other methods (dovetail joints, biscuit joinery or threaded rods) to hold “chopping blocks” together.

4. Do you make chess boards? By popular demand … they are now in production. I think the first set will be done in June. People told me to make them, so I did. I’m a listener. That’s me.

5. Do you make … ? Here are the things I’m trying to keep in stock now. If I can make things faster than I sell them, then these types of boards will always be available:

  • Cutting boards – end grain boards, from 8″x12″ to 18″x24″
  • Cutting boards – edge grain, from 8″x10″ to 12″x20″
  • Cutting boards with juice grooves, from 12″x14″ to 18″x24″
  • Engraved boards, from 8″x12″ to 12″x16″
  • Sous chef boards (handled, portable boards) from 6″x15″ to 18″x22″
  • Novelty boards shaped like surfboards, pigs and (spoilers!)
  • Lazy Susans
  • Cheese & Cracker servers in several styles
  • Custom orders always welcome (especially from patient people!)

Coming later this year for holiday shopping:

  • Wine bottle & glass holders
  • Candle holders
  • Baby stuff (spoilers!)

6. What woods do you use? I generally use about a dozen species of hardwoods, both domestic and international. Here are the woods I’m currently using (though some of these woods I don’t put into cutting boards, only into serving pieces):

Small Board # 15 - 035. Cherry, Yellowheart, Hard Maple, Jatoba, Purpleheart, Padauk and Honey Locust End Grain. 13

Small Board # 15 – 035. Cherry, Yellowheart, Hard Maple, Jatoba, Purpleheart, Padauk and Honey Locust End Grain. 13″ x 11″ x 1-1/4″.

  • Ash
  • Bloodwood
  • Cherry
  • Goncalo Alves (Tigerwood)
  • Honey Locust
  • Jarrah
  • Jatoba
  • Mahogany
  • Maple – Birdseye
  • Maple – Hard
  • Oak – Red
  • Oak – White
  • Padauk
  • Purpleheart
  • Teak
  • Walnut
  • Yellowheart

When you're doing multiple projects simultaneously - the only way to be efficient! - organization is key.

6. How long does it take you to make a board? Between 2 and 6 hours of dedicated shop time, depending on the size of the board and the number of processes it might require. However, I always make several boards at a time (I have about 60 in production in my shop right now), and it takes at least 3 weeks, and often 6 or more weeks, to complete any board. Some boards take a very long time, if I have several extra steps in the production process and challenges crop up along the way. And that time doesn’t include trips to the lumber yard or emptying the dust collector, which is the worst job in the shop.

Small Board # 15 - 015. Purpleheart, Cherry, Padauk, Jatoba and Yellowheart. 7

Small Board # 15 – 015. Purpleheart, Cherry, Padauk, Jatoba and Yellowheart. 7″ x 12″ x 1-1/4″.

7. What’s that yellow wood? It’s called Yellowheart, from Brazil, and that is its natural color. Oh, and that purple wood is called Purpleheart, and it’s from Africa. There’s also a wood called Redheart, but I don’t use it (too expensive, not generally available in lumber-sized quantities that I use and not that unique, IMHO).

8. Won’t a knife mark up this board? Well, yes, to a degree. The purpose of a cutting board is to protect your counter and protect your knife from damage. However, these boards are made from very hard wood – much harder than the inexpensive boards that many people use that are made from softer woods. Therefore, these boards will not show wear like cheaper boards. And, importantly, these boards won’t dull your knives like the cheap boards made out of bamboo or plantation-grown teak. I don’t use those woods.

9. What are the different types of cutting boards? There are two basic types: edge grain and end grain boards. Choosing between them is really an aesthetic choice, though the classic choice is definitely an end grain board. End grain boards do cost a bit more, as they are more difficult to make. They take a whole lot of sand paper to get smooth, too.

Small Board # 15 - 021. Padauk and Hard Maple. 8

Small Board # 15 – 021. Padauk and Hard Maple. 8″ x 12″ x 1″.

Edge grain boards have lots of stripes, and you’re looking at the edges of the boards. When you cut on an edge grain board, you’re actually scoring wood fibers, so they will show wear a bit more than end grain boards. However, my cook (and wife) Velda likes the “stripey” look, and her board shows very little wear after a couple years of hard, daily use. When you oil her board, it looks like new. I do resurface it about once a year, too.

Cutting Board # 15 - 033. Hard Maple, Purpleheart and Honey Locust End Grain. 14

Cutting Board # 15 – 033. Hard Maple, Purpleheart and Honey Locust End Grain. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/2″.

End grain boards have lots of little squares, and are often said to look like a chess board or a quilt. You actually are cutting on the ends of the boards; they’re made like the classic butcher blocks that have been used for centuries. When you cut on end grain, the knife slips between the grain structure of the boards, and that grain structure self heals when oiled. Therefore, end grain boards don’t show as much wear as edge grain boards.

10. How do you get your boards so smooth? I use seven different sanding machines on some boards, believe it or not, and still use old fashioned paper and sanding blocks when I sand by hand as well. I work each board through 5 grades of sandpaper: 80, 120, 180, 220 and 320 grit. When I’m done, boards are generally as smooth as glass.

The pool of mineral oil gives a hint of what colors are to come.

The pool of mineral oil gives a hint of what colors are to come.

11. What finish do you use? I only use food grade mineral oil, and then a topcoat of mineral oil mixed with locally-harvested beeswax. That’s all I use, and it’s all you should use on your wooden serving pieces, IMHO. Please, don’t use organic oils like walnut, olive or coconut. Those oils will all turn rancid eventually, and then the tainted wood will have to be removed from your board. Only use mineral oil, which is both shelf stable and FDA approved.

12. How often should I oil the board? Whenever the wood feels dry, wipe on some mineral oil. Do 3 or 4 applications over 24 hours, and your board should be good for 1 or 2 months, depending on how often you use it.

13. How do I clean a board after I use it? Soap and water. Just don’t submerge the board in the sink, or run it through a dish washer. After you clean the board, set it on edge to drip dry. Don’t let water pool on the board: water will eventually harm the wood and the glue joints.

Cutting Board Scrub14. Do you have a website? Yes, I do. You can also go to my daily blog which shows all of my woodworking, along with lots of pictures of National Parks and more: that’s MowryJournal.com. I also have a dedicated woodworking website: MrMsWoodshop.com.

15. Do you sell online? Sure, and I ship everywhere. However, I treat every board as a custom piece, so I don’t have a retail site on the web. Email me, and we’ll discuss what you want specifically, and then I’ll make it. When I make something for you, it’s exactly to your order; it’s not a standard design sitting on a shelf. You’re always welcome to buy a board out of my existing inventory, of course … and that inventory is constantly changing. I make between 20 and 50 boards each month, but no two boards are ever exactly alike.

16. When should I order a board for Christmas? Now would be good. I just completed my first Christmas order this week. Since it appears my cutting board business is tripling this year, I’m trying to get ahead as much as possible! Especially if you want something unique, please talk to me by Labor Day. Remember, it sometimes takes up to 2 months to make a board, and we’ll be doing many craft fairs in the 4th quarter, so shop time will be at an absolute premium.

17. These boards are too pretty to use! OK, you want me to make them uglier?


Posted June 11, 2015 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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One response to “FAQs for Mr M’s Woodshop

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  1. Thank you for explaining the difference between and Edge Grain and End Grain board.

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