Archive for the ‘edge grain’ Tag

From The Shop: Restoring A Cutting Board   Leave a comment

I say it at every event: yes, a steel knife will mark wood. That is true, even though I make boards out of hardwoods. My boards will not mark as easily as plastic or softwood boards that many people are used to. With proper care, my cutting boards will last for decades.

Also said at every event: restoring a cutting board takes me 5 minutes. In this case, though, it took me 8.

Here’s the board, as it looked when presented, Christmas ’13. This was one of the first 5 cutting boards I made:

Cutting Board 13 – 08. Goncalo Alves, Black Walnut, Jatoba, Cherry & Honey Locust. Edge Grain. 14″ x 21″ x 1-1/4″.

Here’s the board, as it was returned to me after a few years of use. This was the 2nd time the board has come back to me in 5 years:

So, nothing to do but get to it.

To restore a board, I use the same 5 grits of sandpaper that I used to smooth the board originally. I progress through each grit, removing the knife marks to reveal the smooth wood beneath. Each piece of sandpaper is ruined in the process, with the grit quickly clogging with the oil-laden wood that I’m removing. Typically, each grit gets about a minute of work … in this case, the first 2 grits got about 2 minutes due to the deep marks that I needed to remove.

The grits: 80, 120, 180, 220, 320.

And just like that, the hard work is done. I did use my 5″ sander, the lightweight Festool ETS EC 125/3 EQ Random Orbital Sander to clean up the 4 edges … THEN I was done. Brush off the sawdust that the dust extractor didn’t remove, and here’s what the almost-raw board now looks like:


Applying mineral oil to an unfinished board is about as close to pure joy as a woodworker can get. Finally revealed: the “new” board, looking glorious.

Once the oil has soaked in, only 3 steps remain:

  1. Apply a topcoat of Board Butter, which is my mix of locally-harvested beeswax and mineral oil, and
  2. Practice Mr Miyagi’s “wax on, wax off,” and
  3. Take a picture for posterity!

Cutting Board 13 – 08, as restored in 2018. 2nd restoration. It took 8 minutes.


From The Shop: Just Like New

Bread Board Ends   Leave a comment

They are called bread board ends.

“Bread Boards” are large, thin boards that were made for rolling out dough. Some of these boards had “bread hooks” which were a stop against the edge of the counter, so that when you rolled out your dough, the hook caught the edge of the counter and the board was held in place as you were rolling out the dough towards the back of the counter.

Those boards are rare today … as are bakers in the home.

However, the thin boards with the “bread board ends” are still around, and are most often found as in-counter boards that slide out from underneath the counter. They’re conveniently stored in a slot just below the counter – often above the silverware drawer.

The reason for the specially named ends is that the cross-grain strength helps to keep the board flat. Thin boards might warp without that mechanical stress put into the board.

“No one makes these anymore,” is a complaint I often hear at our events. Well … some woodworkers do.

Some woodworkers do.

This is a re-build of Cutting Board 16 – 023. That board somehow got stuck in the counter, and to unstick it, the owner had to get pliers out. When the board got to me, it looked like a screws had gotten stuck in the slot holding the board in place: there were 1/4″ deep gouges on both sides of the board. Couple that with the damage done by the pliers to the bread board ends, and I had to cut off all 4 edges and re-frame this board with splines holding on the bread board ends. It’s all Hard Maple, 20″ x 22″ x 1″.

One more thought about the above board: the damage happened in the owner’s home, and it had nothing to do with the board’s construction. Still, I repaired it. No charge. All the owner had to do was pay me for shipping … and then wait patiently. I took a while to repair it, so they had to be really patient, but they got a “just like new” board when I was done.

Cutting Board 18 – 311. Hard Maple, Purpleheart & Jatoba. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. This is the standard size for most in-counter boards, I’ve found.

Cutting Board 18 – 312. Red Oak ends (to match the kitchen), and a cutting surface made from Hard Maple & Jatoba. 16″ x 21″ x 3/4″. Commissioned piece.


Cutting On The Edge   Leave a comment

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards: edge grain & end grain. Today’s boards are all edge grain.

Today we celebrate stripes. It is Bastille Day, after all!

All of these boards are made with a variety of hardwoods, both domestic & international. They are made to be of use, and with proper care will last for decades. What’s proper care? Check out my post on that topic, here.

All of these boards have non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life. All of these boards have routed fingerholds to make them easier to handle.

If you like what you see, all of these – and more – will be on display at this weekend’s solo event for me at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Yup, I’m going to the Street Fair this weekend. After all, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled!

Mrs M isn’t coming along, though … she has to “work” at her “job.” She says.

I hope to see you on Saturday & Sunday at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair, at booth # 128.

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round   6 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeRare air.

When you reach the summit of a mountain, you’re breathing rare air. And when I have 200 boards in inventory … it’s rare. Very rare.

It did happen 4 times last year … but only for about 2 days each time. It’s inevitable when I build my inventory up, pushing for my next big event. I barely reach the summit … and then the boards are sold when I go to that big event that weekend.

But that’s OK: it’s all about the journey.

Here, then, is the official 200th cutting board in only the 6th time I have achieved that nice, round number or accomplishment.


Cutting Board 17 – 403. Cherry, Hard Maple, Goncalo Alves, Yellowheart, Jatoba, Caribbean Rosewood, Bloodwood & Purpleheart. End Grain. 14″ x 18″ x 1-1/4″.

I call it Kaye’s board, as she received the first version of it.

I’ve made this basic design 8 times over the last 2 years. This retrospective of photos has taught me 2 things:

  • Every one of these boards is truly different!
  • My product photography has gotten better, but I’ve got a long, long way to go.


The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

Quality Cutting Boards   2 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeSince I now have to live up to my unofficial moniker, I decided I needed to make more cutting boards. My inventory at the end of the year had dwindled just a bit … and that’s not OK.

People need to see the choices to know what’s possible!

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards, end grain and edge grain. With edge grain boards, you look at the edges of the boards, and the board is a collection of stripes. End grain boards, on the other hand, have you looking at the ends of the boards. Those are often compared to checker boards or quilts when people look at them, as they have lots of small squares on their surface.

End grain boards are like the classic butcher block. They are harder, more difficult to make, and will show less wear than an edge grain board. However, I use only hard woods, both domestic and international, so my edge grain boards will not show wear like a less expensive soft wood board, which is what you find for sale at most discount stores.

All of these boards have routed finger holds on the edges. They have non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws … these boards are heavy, and they do not move on the counter when you use them. I believe that’s Mrs. M’s favorite part. She doesn’t want to fight her cutting board when she’s using it.

To finish these boards – and all of my cutting boards – I use mineral oil, with a topcoat of Mrs M’s Board Butter, which is a combination of locally harvested beeswax and mineral oil. These help protect the boards from water, and help ensure a very long life.

Personalizing A Board   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeAny board can be engraved … indeed, I engrave my logo onto the back of everything I make.

As people have warmed to the idea, I’ve begun doing more and more personalizations on just about every kind of board that I make.

My only recommendation is that personalizations be done on light-colored wood; engraving on dark woods tends to get lost. Further, engraving across different species/colors of woods makes for poor legibility. The best engravings, in my opinion, are done on a single color of wood. Hard Maple is the lightest color and works best, but Cherry and even Yellowheart engravings work very well.

On cutting boards, engraving on the work surface is not recommended. Engraving on the very edge is possible, but any engraving on the face of the board results in a small workspace as well as a decorative element that you have to remember to avoid … because who wants to cut up their name? The better option for cutting boards, I feel, is to engrave the board on the back.

Yes, a board can be personalized after it’s oiled & waxed, though most of my engraving is done before the board is oiled. Here’s a collection of cutting boards, serving pieces and even Magic Bottle Openers that I’ve personalized for people in the past several months.

Restoring A Board   6 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeIt’s January, when everything feels new. Well, except for those scratched-up cutting boards that need help recovering from those holiday fêtes.

Once a year, I restore Mrs M’s cutting board to pristine condition. This year, I got 2 other boards from the family. The pictures below show the results, which, quite frankly, are easily attained. Here’s what I do:

  1. Clean the board to get as much oil & such off of it. That will make the sanding easier.
  2. Remove the non-skid rubber feet so you don’t have to sand around them.
  3. If the board has any cracks (as one of these boards did), then those have to be cut apart and re-glued before sanding begins. Cracks are not good on a cutting board; they will harbor bits of food and bacteria.
  4. Use a random orbital sander to sand each board through 5 grits (just as I do with new boards): 80, 120, 180, 220, 320. The oily, damaged wood that you’re removing will clog up the sanding disk rather quickly but that’s OK: you only need about 1 minute per grit per board.
  5. Honest.
  6. Saturate the smooth board with mineral oil. I typically apply about 3 or 4 coats; one every couple of hours. I always let it soak overnight, and then apply one more coat of mineral oil in the morning.
  7. After the oil has soaked in, apply a top coat of board butter, and then remove the excess.
  8. You’re done … in about 24 hours, start to finish.

Here’s a photo gallery that shows all of the boards, the damage that they came to the shop with, and the result of my restoration. Click on the photos to open them and read the photo captions, if you’re unable to see them automatically on your screen.


Cutting Boards: Restoration

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round   6 comments

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeThe biggest event of the year for us has, for the last 2 years, been Santa’s Art Shop in Ridgecrest. That event – its 35th annual – is this weekend, so I have been working long hours to get the inventory in shape for the big event.

Long hours.

And, since the inventory is growing again (and during our busiest month, too!), I am pleased to announce my 200th cutting board. This is only the 5th time that I have had that number of boards in inventory … and, as always, the number will be a fleeting memory by Saturday. In the meantime, however, it’s time to celebrate the accomplishment. Here’s the story of this unusual board.

After my years of a Cub Scout being square, I’ve seldom made square boards. It’s an occasional request, though, and I do like to show different kinds of boards to get the customers’ creativity flowing when they visit the booth.

This square, edge grain board features 6 kinds of wood:

  • Jatoba – AKA Brazilian Cherry
  • Hard Maple – which is in almost every cutting board I make
  • Cherry – AKA American Cherry or Black Cherry
  • Purpleheart – the # 1 commented upon wood in my booth, and these pieces with quilted grain will continue that tradition
  • Bubinga – I love using it because it’s just fun to say
  • Bloodwood – delightful fluorescence in these pieces

One of my current challenges in lumber supply is finding one of my favorite cutting board woods, Jatoba, in 8/4 thickness (that’s 1-3/4″ thick, sanded smooth, to you non-lumber types). The wood is commonly available in 4/4 thickness (3/4″), but rarely in the dimension I need for my thickest, big cutting boards. I did find some 8/4 earlier this year, and this board uses the last of it.

Bloodwood is crimson colored, and it’s the most challenging wood that I currently work with. It seems that every piece – every piece – is warped: bowed, twisted, cupped, or some combination of all of those.

Every piece.

It’s been said that woodworking is the art of solving problems, and it’s certainly true that using Bloodwood is one of those challenges that I face. But, I enjoy the work, and I always let the results speak for themselves.

Cutting Board 16 - Edge 029. Jatoba, Cherry, Bubinga, Bloodwood, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. Edge grain. 15" x 15" x 1-1/8".

Cutting Board 16 – Edge 029. Jatoba, Cherry, Bubinga, Bloodwood, Purpleheart & Hard Maple. Edge grain. 15″ x 15″ x 1-1/8″.


The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later

The 200th Cutting Board

Big & Small   Leave a comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeLarge boards are spectacular, of course, but small boards can be just as important in a busy kitchen. Most cooks have several cutting boards … and having a pair of small boards to accompany the large counter-top board is most efficient.

Here, there are several small boards which might end up as cutting boards … or might end up as serving pieces. There’s no wrong answer as far as I’m concerned … if the boards make your home a better place, then there’s a smile on both of our faces!

These boards – and about 100 others – will be at the 30th Annual Bakersfield Home & Garden Show this Friday – Sunday, February 19 – 21. For more information, please visit their website, here.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, yes, Mrs M will be there, too! You’ll find us in booths 454/455.

Petunia’s Pals   1 comment

Here’s the largest litter to date … meaning, yes, I’m back in the pig business!

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