Archive for the ‘handmade’ Tag

12 Tips To Buy Your Perfect Cutting Board   Leave a comment

There are 4 questions to answer before you buy a cutting board … but I have some tips that will help inform those decisions for you. No wrong answers here: your cutting board is yours, and you need to like it. What other people do is their business. Thank goodness.

So, here are those all important 4 questions:

  1. What size do you want the board to be?
  2. What color do you want the board to be?
  3. End grain or edge grain?
  4. Juice groove or no?

When you answer those, you will make sure you are getting the board or boards you want and need. But here are those tips that will help smooth your process.

  1. Where are you going to use the board? Is it mobile? Beside the sink? Beside the stove? On the island? Or … ? Wherever that special place is, get out your measure and see what the dimensions of the space are. If you have a galley kitchen with standard cabinets, you have 24” of depth to use. If you have appliances against the wall, then you only have 12” or depth or so to work with.
  2. How many are you cooking for? Cooking for a family of 4 is different from cooking for you and your spouse. If this is a general purpose board that will be used to prepare large meals, I would recommend at least 14” X 18”.
  3. Is this board single purpose? Some cooks like a dedicated board to only do onions and that stinking rose, garlic. Every cook is different. Maybe you want a set of 3 that are dedicated for meat, vegetables or bread. You get to choose. But, each of those purposes can dictate a different size and shape.
  4. Does the board live on the counter, or do you need to store it at times? Storage of a board can be difficult the larger the board is. A handled board, though, can hang on the wall and add to the warmth of your kitchen.
  5. Be Colorful! Most of the large retailers that sell cutting boards use overseas factories to make them, and they generally offer one or perhaps 2 woods or colors of boards. I have 40 woods in the shop, and all do find their way into cutting boards. So, you can match your décor. Contrast with your counter top. Indulge your eyes with your favorite colors.
  6. Bigger is not always better. Cooks that prepare large hunks of meat often want very large, thick boards – but those come at a cost. Heavy is difficult to move, big is difficult to clean, not to mention storage! There is no need for a board to be more than 1-1/2” thick. More than that is making a statement, for sure, but it is not improving the performance of the board.
  7. Smaller is not always better, either. The thinner the board, the less stable and more prone to warping or twisting it becomes. I do make my smallest boards, AKA Cheese Boards, about 8” x 10” x 5/8”, and those laminated assemblies are stable. People that use the ¼” thick bamboo boards sold in grocery stores … well, they will have issues using them, almost immediately.
  8. End grain boards are harder and show less wear, but they require more time and better tools to construct properly. Time is often needed to custom order a “perfect” end grain board. Plan ahead.
  9. Edge grain boards are perfectly fine when made from good hardwood. A quality cutting board will last for decades with minimal care. It all comes down to … do you like stripes? Or fancy patterns that look a little like a chess board?
  10. Mrs M is a hard NO for juice grooves, and she is a serious cook, smoker & BBQ boss. Many people want juice grooves (they get to choose!), but the grooves do shrink the usable space available on the board. Add 2” to the height and width if you are getting a juice groove.
  11. If you get a groove, make sure it is big enough to clean with your finger. And a brush or cloth! My standard is 3/4” wide x 3/8” deep.  Smaller and deeper will cause you problems. I do also make grooves 1-1/4” wide on my Carnivore Boards, which is needed if you want to corral the juices from your Thanksgiving turkey.
  12. Before you buy your board, pick one up. Move around with it. Cleaning it is a daily task, frequently multiple times in one meal when you practice good sterile technique. Make sure the board fits you as well as your kitchen.


Shop at Mr M’s Woodshop

Carnivore Boards!

Edge Grain, 14″ x 18″

Custom, Large End Grain Boards

Cutting Boards?   Leave a comment

I love talking to people about cutting boards. Good thing, huh?

But, seriously, I love the subject. Part of the joy I find is that everyone has a different view of what their cutting board should be. I think there are 4 questions:

  1. What size of cutting board do you want?
  2. What color do you want your board to be?
  3. End grain, or edge grain?
  4. Juice groove, or no?

No answer is wrong. Everyone’s situation is different! My job is to (hopefully) have a nice selection for people to choose from … because the choices are truly infinite.

Here are the latest additions to the selections I have on hand.


Cutting Board 101: Choosing A Cutting Board

Mr M’s Surprising Trivets   1 comment

The sign in my booth says “Mr M’s Trivets – Protecting Hot Stuff Since 2017.”

And people still ask me, “What’s a trivet?” It’s a funny word, so I can see how people that are non-native English speakers might be challenged, but it’s more than that. Many people just aren’t familiar with the term – in any language. I’ve watched the younger generation ask their elders what a trivet is in their native language and get blank stares.

So that’s the first surprise: many people do not know what a trivet is. So my task is to help educate people, one trivet at a time.

The second surprise is much more artistic.

My trivets are popular, and the most popular purchase … is two, mismatched trivets.

I make the trivets from “blanks,” as I call them. Each blank makes 2x trivets, so people can buy a matched pair. They just don’t want to!

Well, not usually, anyway. Mrs M did want a matched set, so she did not embrace her love of chaos in this particular case. Not predictable, that one. Believe me, after 45 years, I don’t even try to predict her.

But I do work to protect the wonderful hot stuff coming from her kitchen.

Here are the latest trivets for shoppers this holiday season.


Buying Trivets from the Woodshop

Posted November 2, 2023 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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All Susans Are Lazy   Leave a comment

And with that statement, I define the most interesting thing about Lazy Susans.

No one knows WHY we call Lazy Susans … Lazy Susans. No one.

The first written instance that has been found was in a Vanity Fair magazine over a 100 years ago. My first Lazy Susans introduced this fact way back in 2014, when the Woodshop idea was but a dream. I did quickly learn that I could make Lazy Susans that people really liked … even as they had no idea why they called Susan Lazy.

See the link below back to that original post that explored the origins of a favorite serving piece. And, here you see the latest additions to my collection of the latest torments to all of the Susans in the world.

My Susans are about 17.5″ in diameter. The bearing that revolves is rated for 500 pounds … but I wouldn’t go there. As the weight increases, inertia will be a powerful problem to overcome. Because … physics.

Who knew that Susans being lazy could be so instructional?


The Cleverest Waitress In The World

Buying A Lazy Susan From Mr M

Posted November 1, 2023 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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Cheese Needs Slicing   Leave a comment

This problem vexed us for a few years, it did.

Then I found the hardware needed to make cheese slicers. And, here we are.

Slicers are all approximately 7″ wide and 11″ long. The tightly stretched wire will cut hard cheese, soft cheese … all cheese. If you are an eater of cheese, you need to be a slicer of cheese.

There are now 22x of these slicers available, and pricing is between $50 and $90.


Buying a Cheese Slicer from Mr M

Posted November 1, 2023 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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Wooden Coasters Need Cork   1 comment

I’m going to insist on this.

I’ve been making wooden coasters for a while now (though I’ve been out for over a year, so….).

In any event, I have seen wooden coasters made by others … and found them wanting.

The purpose of a coaster is to protect the table surface from water condensation and scratches from the bottom of the glass. The purpose of the coaster is NOT to use up a woodworker’s small “scrap.”

I don’t have scrap. Ever. I use the wood that I have, and find what each piece of wood should be. That’s my job.

So, I make coasters on blanks that make 4x coasters. Each blank is 22″ long, and has to go through the CNC and the table saw to make a 5″ square piece of wood … with a 4″ cork insert on one side.

I have found that some people like 4 matched coasters, how I make them. However, there are many people that like a set of 4 coasters that are similar but not exactly alike. These are what I call chaos coasters, and these are Mrs M’s people. My mind is much more linear. Hers is more … chaotic.

I mean no disrespect. Believe me?

So, coasters come in sets of 4. Some are matchy matchy, and some are … in chaotic groupings. Y’all get to choose.


Purchase @

The V Board

Posted November 1, 2023 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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The V Board   Leave a comment

I’ve been sitting on this lumber for 18 months.

Well, not really. I’ve had it stored on end in the cut-offs rolling cart for most of that time, waiting for me to figure out what it was. The cut off was about 30″ long, 8″ wide … and I wasn’t sure what it was. It had really pretty, creamy sapwood on both sides, some bark, and that vibrant yellow from newly smoothed Osage Orange in sort of an hourglass shape down the middle.

It was pretty. But I didn’t know what it was.

So, as I occasionally do, I went to what’s her name for inspiration. It went something like this.

Me: “This board is pretty, but I don’t know what to do with it. What should I do with it?”

Her: “Make something.”

Me: “But what should I make? I like this wood.”

Her: “Cut it up and make a board.”

I swear that’s what she said.

See? Great inspirational dialogue. That’s why we’ve been married for 45 years.

So here is that pretty board. Pure Osage Orange, AKA Hedge. The vibrant yellow will darken with age and UV exposure, and end up being a medium brown. The creamy sapwood (newer growth) will not change color much, I believe.

Small Board 23 – 401a. Osage Orange. Approximately 9″ x 11″ x 5/8″. Non-skid rubber feet.

Since the Lady was so much help, I left an Easter Egg for you to enjoy.

Small Board 23 – 401b, AKA the V board.

Posted October 27, 2023 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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The Board Chronicles: California Artisan Cheese Festival 2023   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mr M’s Woodshop as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Learn about the horrors of The Road. Read the impossible demands of the people that know what I should really be doing. In short, it’s the comedy of errors that has become my life, presented here, like my cutting boards, as simple unvarnished truth. All for your amusement … and for the good of vendor-kind.

I was very excited about journeying to Northern California to be a part of the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Santa Rosa. I’ve always been focused on serving pieces, and this seemed like a very nice, targeted event.

The year was 2020, and then the world went to hell.

The 2020 event was cancelled due to covid, of course, like almost every public event in California that year. And again in 2021. And, for many events especially early in the year, 2022 was not different. For 3 years, this event was lost to me.

Finally, 2023 became a new opportunity. Thank goodness.

This Festival is a series of events over a long weekend with artisan cheese classes, food pairing events, farm tours and more. On Sunday afternoon, a vendor event is produced with a very large group of artisanal cheese producers – many with their own herds for true farm-to-table cheese – as well as related vendors including vintners, brewers, distillers … and woodworkers, among others. About 100 vendors were gathered for this 5 hour event.

New Ideas

  • I broke many rules to do this event.
    • This is a one-day, 5 hour event. I don’t do one-day events.
    • Since this event was 400 miles away from our home, I had to drive and stay in a hotel for … a one-day, 5 hour event. That never would have happened independently of any other good ideas, so…
  • Mrs M made a rare appearance at this event, playing the part of a Foodie enjoying the best of cheese while I was working like a dog in the booth. So, the event became the *excuse* to do a long weekend in Wine Country. We spent 5 days visiting Healdsburg, Sonoma, St Helena, and more. If you like wine, if you like food, if you like to wander … wine country is a great getaway.
  • Since I was all in for the event, the first event of 2023 … I created Serving Trays as a base for Charcuterie Kits to debut at this event.
  • I didn’t have walls (the event is indoors at the county fairgrounds, no canopies/frames allowed), so I could not hang pictures. And I had just done nice photography of the charcuterie kits … so I did a thing. I produced a Power Point presentation to show on my tablet, which was mounted on the table above the serving trays. The mount cost all of $22 and displayed the “boards in action” photos that really help illustrate what my boards can help you do. New presentation idea, powered by a portable battery we have to re-charge cellphones at un-powered events. Worked like a charm!
  • This was a getaway weekend, with a destination of a single booth at a targeted event … so I left the trailer at home, and packed the truck with what I needed. The limiting factor of the truck meant I left many products at home, but focused exclusively on serving pieces appropriate for artisanal cheese, charcuterie boards … or whatever people serve things on.


The display was more farmer’s market than fancy art boutique. It was a very casual atmosphere, a table top event (which, again, I never do these days). The promoter provided 2 8′ tables with short table cloths. I brought an additional 4′ table, and that was the total base of the display.

We arrived at 8a, and were set up by 9:30. The event didn’t start until 11, so we were perhaps a bit early. But you never know what the challenges are at a new event in an unfamiliar venue. It’s good to relax and check out the event before the masses arrive.

Mrs M being there means that she messes with my display. She improves the look of the booth, she says. She makes it better, she says. She increases sales, she says.

I have no idea what she’s talking about.

The floor was busy during this event. Estimated attendance of 1,500, all there to sample cheese and wine … and beer and nuts and bread and whatever vendors were giving away. Lines were 20+ people deep, 8-10 minutes for a “hot” vendor like Cowgirl Creamery or Beehive Cheese Company.

I had talked to the promoters about my unique presentation (compared to the food vendors sampling their creations, I was the weird one). They put me in a corner booth so people could walk on 2 sides of the booth. That was good.

They also put me across the building, in front of the bandstand. That was bad. (The band was primarily acoustic with a banjo, clarinet, tuba and percussionist. Very fun Americana music and not too loud.)

They also put me on the path to the bathroom. That was good. I guess.

Booth locations are something that I do my best to ignore, honestly. Vendors don’t control them. Why get upset about where you are when it’s someone else’s decision? I’ve run events. I’ve assigned vendors to booth locations. I’ve also dealt with upset vendors that just lost their minds because their location … wasn’t whatever they thought it should be. I don’t want to be that guy. My location was FINE. People could see me. We were not blocked by a line. If people were looking for a wooden object, they knew where I was.

But I brought cheese boards … I didn’t bring chess boards. That was a request. As were book shelves. I politely said sorry! … just as I happily dispensed free advice on how to deal with a permanently mounted wooden cutting board embedded into a stone counter. I am old, so I must be wise. I guess.

There were actually 4 woodworkers there. Two were really focused on traditional cutting boards and one exclusively made seascape resin boards using that dreaded bulbous grass, AKA bamboo, as their base. Truly I did not compete with any of them.

My first 3 sales were Charcuterie Kits and Serving Trays. Vindicated, I was.

And I said that out loud to the Lady. So, of course, I didn’t sell another one.

For a five hour event that was an excuse to drive 400 miles … this was a winner. I sold enough to pay the entire hotel bill, gas and vendor fee. The Lady got to geek out on cheese … and found the highly-sought cheeses that are used in the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich (found at the Rustic Bakery & Muir Woods National Forest) as well as the fabulous Very Adult Mac & Cheese from the Market in St Helena. Both of these dishes served as destinations for us during the weekend, so buying the necessary cheeses was a great coup.

Sometimes, going a-vendoring is about the journey, not the destination. I’m taking the win on this one.

The Food

When we travel, the Lady busies herself in the passenger seat stalking restaurants in our destination city to choose the ultimate, best dinner she could find. It’s her thing. This trip, however, it just worked out that we did lunches as our culinary adventures, and “settled” for take out most evenings.

  • Best Meal: Pizza Verde at The Journeyman, an Italian charcuterie in Healdsburg that makes their own sausage salumi. The pizza featured soppressata, an Italian sausage sometimes made by pressing the meat between 2 boards. It was amazing. And we just might have purchased a lot of sausage to bring home. And a guillotine to cut it. And joined their meat club. Hey, we were on vacation.
  • The Other Best Meal: A pannini-style grilled cheese sandwich, the Marin Melt, with Rustic Bakery‘s Honey Whole Wheat bread, Two cheeses are combined: Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam and Point Reyes Toma cheese.
  • Honorable Mention: Very Adult Mac & Cheese, The Market, St Helena. I added chicken, the Lady added crab. Draw your own conclusions. We had this dish a few years ago when we visited Little Girl at her nearby college, Sonoma State in Rohnert Park. Simply fabulous food. Worthy of being a destination.
  • Worst Meal: We went out one night, Monday night. Most restaurants were closed (oops). Choice # 1 was an Italian restaurant that wanted reservations (double oops). Desperation drove us to another relatively well reviewed Italian restaurant, Alfredo’s in Petaluma. It was horrid. Made the Lady sick, even. My belief is the Mexican American cooks had no clue how to follow the Italian recipes they were given. Every dish was just … off. Mrs M later found a couple of bad reviews that talked about “cooks in training.” Sorry, not for a dinner costing over $100 for 2 with no alcohol.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 852
  • Booth cost: $250
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 4
  • Visits in the booth by a promoter’s representative: several
  • Returning next year? Yes. This is a great event for cheese enthusiasts … and Mr M’s Woodshop belongs there.

Boards sold: 15

  • Cracker Things: 5
  • Charcuterie Kits: 2
  • Ampersand Boards: 2
  • Lazy Susan: 1
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Large Serving Piece: 1
  • Cheese Slicer: 1
  • 5 Section Server: 1
  • Serving Tray: 1

New: Charcuterie Kits   1 comment

This post is the culmination of a great deal of work by many people. And as I hope you will agree, it was well worth the effort!

Serving Trays were just the beginning point for me. The goal was to offer fully customizable Charcuterie Kits at my first event in 2023: the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Santa Rosa in just 2 weeks. As the pictures attest, I am ready.

You start with a Serving Tray … see them described, and see them very naked, here. This page is all about dressing them up.

Charcuterie is classically a collection of smoked meats and cheeses served to the delight of hungry people everywhere. The idea is really trending now, and people are taking the excuse of having a nice serving piece to do all sorts of offerings on a lovely serving board. To complete the presentation, I have collaborated with my good friend and potter, Nicole, the owner of NZ Designs Studio. She is also the maker of the Great Garlic Graters that are on my Garlic Dipping Boards, which continue to be a favorite.

After more than a few discussions about what would be ideal, she has made 4″ bowls – or ramekins, if you prefer – in 3 shapes and 4 colors (well, 5 colors. She’s an over-achiever.) that can be purchased at events for inclusion with your Charcuterie Kit. In addition, she has made very cute meat and cheese tags to identify some of the classic Charcuterie that you will probably be serving.

Then I went shopping and found sets of stainless Cheese Knife Sets that I am also offering to help complete your presentation.

You get to pick and choose among the options … but let’s not get ahead of the idea. The best way to understand this idea is to see it. I gathered family, friends and collaborators to create some unique and tasty boards for your consideration.

A big thanks to the food stylists and helpers that made this happen. I appreciated the eaters that helped when the work was done, too!

Nicole’s bowls are Red, White, Blue, Green … and Purple. You can go all matchy matchy, or buy your ramekins in all different shapes & colors. We did it both ways on the boards pictured. You get to choose what you like best.

Here are simpler pictures showing just the Serving Trays in the 3 sizes, along with the bowls in all of their colors. The knife set is also shown; a great matched set of 6 knives with spreaders, choppers, forks … just what you need to do anything from cut a hard cheese, spread a soft one, or pick an olive out of the bowl.

To purchase a serving tray, go here. If you want a charcuterie kit, or any of the pieces offered that tickle your fancy, then you’ll need to email me and we can work out the details. I will warn you that nothing will ship until late April. That’s good: you get to choose what you most like, and I will make sure you get exactly what you want.

Thank you very much for your continuing support!

New: Serving Trays   3 comments

It’s good to get things out of my head. These Serving Trays were a long time coming.

I knew I wanted to make trays with sides on them. That’s a classic serving piece, and I’m all about serving pieces. I needed to do serving trays. Finally, I found the way.

Serving trays are in 3 sizes: 12″x12″, 13-1/2″ x 19″ and 15″ x 24″. Small, medium and large. The 3 trays nest together nicely for easy storage, if you are so inclined. Sides provide 1-1/2″ of wall around the bottom of the tray, helping you corral whatever you might be putting on the trays.

Construction details are robust: all hardwood construction (naturally). The corners are connected with sturdy box joints. The bottoms, 3/8″ thick (and again, all hardwood), are captured in dados on the ends and sides for reliable load carrying. These trays are meant to be heirloom additions to your home.

The sides & ends are made of one of these three woods: Hard Maple (the lightest color), Cherry and Sapele (a very pretty dark brown wood, AKA African Mahogany). The bottoms are matched in some cases, and stripey in others. You can mix and match your set of 3 if you wish.

The initial thought for these trays was for them to be the base of Charcuterie Kits, and indeed, they are. If you want to see some pretty pictures of Charcuterie done at VMICA (the Velda Mowry Institute of Culinary Arts), then you can go here.

If you would like to purchase, that link is here. Please note that orders can be placed today, but I do not expect to ship until the end of April. The good news is you can order exactly what you want. The bad news is … exactly what you want takes time. My job is to make sure there is a smile on your face when you finally get to see your new Serving Tray!