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    Beautiful Butcher Block





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    In Part I of my series on crafting a Traditional End Grain Up Butcher Block, I covered the intitial glue-up of the blank. Now in Part II, we'll wrap things up with another sequence of glue-ups, milling, and the additional of a liquid groove to keep you from creating an awful mess on your countertops!

    A Note Regarding Glue

    User Paul Saffold commented that perhaps the use of a waterpoof glue like Titebond III would work even better for a cutting board. Frankly, it's not a bad idea. Although Titebond II--the glue I used for this project--is water resistant, when it comes to wood and moisture - you can never be too careful. That's some good food for thought, Paul.


    How to Make

    Cut Your End Grain Slices

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sections: In Part I of this series, we left off after having glued up two separate blanks. Now it's time to join those two blanks together. This will form the final workpiece from which you'll cut and assemble the entire butcher block.

    The Final Glue-Up

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Square an End and Slice it Up: Once the glue dries, head over to the tablesaw. You'll need to square up an end and then move on down the line, cutting a series of 1-1/2-in. to 1-3/4-in. wide slices. I would advise against using a stop block here, as that would result in a trapped cut. Instead, just make a tick mark on the fence of your crosscut sled representing the width of each segment you wish to slice off. Now line up your blank to the line for each cut. Even if the segments don't all come out "exactly" the same width, it's OK. You'll be re-milling the final blank later on anyhow.

    Milling End Grain

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Building Blocks for a Butcher Block: Here's what you'll end up with: a series of slices that need to be properly oriented and glued together to form the butcher block.

    Cut the Blank to Final Size

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Orient Your End Grain Up: Once again, I glued up in three stages. In this photo, you can see me flipping each slice up so that the end grain is now oriented as the cutting surface.

    Add a Liquid Groove

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Flip End-for-End: Next, I flip every other slice, end-for-end. This ensures that my glue lines don't all align with one another--something that could affect the structural integrity of your cutting board.

    Final Finish

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Two Glue-Ups are Easier than One: Now glue up two end grain sections individually.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Join the Two Halves: Joint the two sections to make your final butcher block blank. Notice how I've used cauls to ensure the long cutting board doesn't want to buckle up at that center seam when I apply all that clamping pressure.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Break Your Edges to Minimize Blowout: With the final blank roughed out, it's time to head to the milling machinery again. But before doing that, be sure to break all the short edges using a block plane. This will prevent blowout at the jointer and planer.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Joint a Face with Light Passes: Set your jointer for a VERY light cut and joint one face flat.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Final Planing: Now plane the opposite side as usual. But again, make sure to set your planer for a very slight cut. End grain is tough stuff, you'll want to make as light a pass as possible. With the edges of the short ends all having been broken with the block plane earlier, blowout is minimal as this piece passes through the jointer and planer.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Secure the Workpiece and Rip One End: The only flat surfaces I have to register against a fence at this point are the two short ends. This means I need to begin final trimming of the cutting board with a rip cut. To make the cut safer, I fastened a stop block that securely wedged the cutting board blank in my crosscut sled and ripped one end nice and square.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Rip to Width: With one edge ripped flat and true, you can use the rip fence for the opposite edge.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Crosscut to Length: Don't forget to crosscut your board to its final length.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Final Surfacing with a Handplane: If you don't have a jointer or planer large enough to accomodate your cutting board, you can do the job by hand. In this photo, I'm following my milling machinery passes with a bit of good old-fashionied handplaning. For end grain, you can't beat a bevel up handplane. Once again, I made sure the edges along the short ends of my blank were broken enouch so as to prevent blowout when making full length passes with my handplane.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Layout Lines on all Four Corners: Use a small square to mark the perimeter of the liquid groove that runs around all four sides of the cutting board.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Light Passes with a Router and Fence: To cut the liquid grooves, I used a 1/2-in. groove-cutting bit mounted to a rider with a guide fence on it. Just be sure to sneak up the final depth of the groove in multiple passes. The depth of the groove is up to you, although mine was approximately 1/4-in.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    A Dowel Can Serve as a Sanding Block: I used a sanding block to achieve a glass smooth surface, sanding through to 400-grit. You can wrap sand paper around a dowel in order to get into those liquid grooves.

    Join the Two Long-Grain Sectionsclick to enlarge

    Don't Forget to Break Your Edges: One final pass with the block plane to ensure all the sharp edges were softened and presto: butcher block cutting board. When it comes to applying a finish, I've grown partial to a 50/50 mixture of mineral oil and beeswax. It offers plenty of protection as well as a brilliant luster. Happy cooking!



    Ed_Pirnik