When I am given a custom order for a new board, I design it first.
It’s good to have a plan.
The plan is hatched on the computer, using an excellent program made … to make cutting boards. That’s the path I followed in November for a board that was recently completed and delivered before Thanksgiving:
However, this post is not about that board. It’s about the mistake I made first.
I was under the gun, you see, and had no time to waste in completing this special order. I designed & got approval to make the board, I “picked and processed” the wood, meaning I got the wood cut to size, ready to glue, and then I glued up the board.
When I discovered my error, I saw that the board didn’t follow the approved design precisely. I had reversed the order of two boards (the adjacent Hickory & Bloodwood boards). The board had become too symmetrical, with a rectangular strip of hickory down the middle, flanked by rectangular strips of Black Walnut & Bloodwood. There was no offset between those rectangles, meaning that there were “4-way” corners on every strip of wood.
Oh, the board would be OK, but it would definitely not be as strong as an end grain board is when the corners are “2-way,” with the joints getting the added support of solid wood on one side, as 2 pieces are joined on the other. Stronger = Better. I’m all about that. And this doesn’t even consider how the board no longer followed the approved design.
So, nothing to do but start the commissioned piece over, get it right, and put this mistake aside to be completed another day.
I offset the wood to eliminate the hard rectangle of Hickory; now the Bloodwood repeatedly extends into that expanse of American hardwood. The result is a stronger – though somewhat smaller – board. In my eye, the board is more attractive this way as well. I ended up having to cut off some of the Black Walnut on the edge of the board (the same amount was cut off as the amount of Bloodwood providing the new offset). That’s a lesson I’ve learned: when I make a mistake, the board gets smaller. Always.
But, small & strong will win the day over bigger & weaker … & uglier.