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    Build a Traditional End Grain Up Butcher Block - Part I of II





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    When I built my first cabinetmaker's workbench about a year ago, I was left with piles of hard maple scraps, trimmed off the material I used for my benchtop. That's me seated atop the pile of raw maple that would later become my bench. 

    Good wood is expensive, and it's a shame to have all that pretty scrap maple go up the chimney, so I set it aside in hopes of finding a use for it. Now, well over a year later, I've decided to craft all those scraps into a 2-in. thick butcher block-style cutting board. The traditional butcher block has it's end grain oriented up, and this makes for one solid cutting surface. An added benefit is the fact that the end grain is quite beautiful to look at.

    My cutting board will measure in at approximately 13-in. X 30-in. but feel free to alter my dimensions to suite your own taste. In order to achieve this dimension, I glued up one large block of hard maple strips ranging in thickness from 1/4-in. to about 5/8-in. In Part II of this project series, we'll be cutting this blank into a series of slices and turning those slices up on their ends for one final glue-up. Stay tuned!

     

    Check out Part II of II. We'll complete our initial glue-up and begin slicing off the sections that will make up our end grain cutting board.


    How to Make

    Arrange Your Scraps

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Arrange Your Hardwood Strips: I had a pile of strips of varying thickness available to me and made sure to arrange them in a random pattern. In this photo, I'm only arranging about half of the strips I had at my disposal. This is because I chose to perform my initial blank glue-up in three stages--gluing two separate blocks (each about 6-1/2-in. in width x 22-in. in length), and allowing them to dry before then joining these two blocks together. Each strip is approximately 1-3/4-in. in width.

    Glue-Up

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Orient the End Grain: In order to keep your butcher block from blowing itself apart with seasonal changes in humidity, it's a good idea to orient the end grain of each piece in opposing directions. In this image, I've highlighted the grain direction in red.

    Squeezeout is Murder on Milling Machines

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Glue Up the Blanks: Apply glue somewhat generously. Glue is cheap, and you want to ensure that you've got 100% coverage for each joint. Just make sure you don't lose track of your end grain orientation every time you lay a strip down to apply the glue.

    Mill the Blanks

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Clamping Cauls Hold Everything in Plane: After lightly clamping the assembly together, I slipped on a couple of clamping cauls on either end of the blank. These cauls will ensure that all the individual slices of maple will be in plane with one another. Go ahead and sock them down. Also, be sure to apply clear packing tape to your cauls before the glue-up. This will keep your cauls from sticking to the cutting board blank.

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Apply Generous Clamping Pressure: When it comes to clamping up a glue-up like this, there's no such thing as too many clamps. To ensure even pressure, it's a good idea to alternate the direction of the clamps. Tighten down your clamps as much as you can--most folks tend to apply too little pressure to their glue-ups. You're looking for an even line of squeezeout all the way down each joint. Allow the glue-up to dry overnight before proceeding.

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    An Old Chisel is a Great Glue Scraper: With the glue dry, take the blanks out of the clamps and scrape away as much glus as possible. An old chisel is great for this sort of work.

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Follow with a Card Scraper: After you've removed the majority of glue, follow up with a bit of scraping to catch even more dry squeezeout before proceeding to the milling stage.

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    Joint a Face and an Edge: With most of the glue squeezeout scraped away, it's safe to joint one face and one edge of each of the two blanks.

    Arrange Your Hardwood Stripsclick to enlarge

    A quick, light pass through the planer and you're ready for the next glue-up. Check back on Thursday, July 18, 2013 for Part II of II. We'll complete our initial glue-up and begin slicing off the sections that will make up our end grain cutting board.



    Ed_Pirnik