American Woodworker

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Cutting Boards – More than Just a Slab of Wood? The Beginnings of My Quest...


I’m a decent handyman, but I have to admit, I haven’t done much woodworking in the past.  I’ve always had a considerable interest in it and know plenty of people who spend a lot of time in their workshops, but I never seem to find the time myself.  I’ve made a few bookcases over the years and generally stuck with that.  I’ve found bookcases to be simple to build, yet the process and the result to be satisfying.  The thing about the bookcases, however, is that I’ve always made them for others and bookcases, after all, are passive.  They sit against the wall, hold books, collect dust, and are periodically cleaned.  In short, unless you bring attention to them, they’re probably not going to be noticed.  They just sit there and look pretty (I hope).

Why do I bring this up?  Well, I’ve been thinking it’s time to make something again.  I miss working with my hands.  I’ve been giving thought to exactly what that might be and a few days ago, it hit me.  I’m not much of a cook, so, why make a cutting board?  I told a buddy this and his initial reaction was little more than a chuckle followed by, “Why not buy one?  You’re in the business!”  He has a point.  In fact, he has a very good point.  After all, I am the owner of a company that sells butcher blocks online. But then he went too far by saying, “Besides, a cutting board is just a slab of wood.”  I repeated that to myself a few times.  Just a slab of wood?  I was certain my eyes were going to roll right out of my head.

Sure, buying yet another cutting board would be exceedingly easy.  And that’s the point. I’m looking for a challenge. I’d like to make something I can take pride in and can use over and over.  .  I can’t tell you how many boards or blocks I’ve purchased over the years, but I loved each and every one.  Actually, that’s a lie. There was one I absolutely hated, but it doesn’t count as it was made out of plastic and purchased in a hurry. 

I’ve spent a lot of time just admiring cutting boards.  There are so many different styles to choose from. In fact, it took me weeks just to decide on a wood; I settled on black walnut.  I love the richness of its color, the darker look.  Right now, I’m trying to decide on a wood grain style.  End or edge.  I’m really not sure.  I’ve seen some end grain cutting boards and blocks that would knock your socks off (I’m a huge fan of the chess board look), but I’m not sure I’m ready to put in that sort of time investment.   I think if I were going for the end grain look, I’d probably just buy a ready-made board.  But, it’s early still.  I have yet to buy the lumber.  But soon, very soon...