Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Monster Cutting Board

I had the opportunity to build a monster cutting board recently.  I got a call out of the blue to build a counter top for a kitchen island, the client wanted it to be 29.5" x 51.25" x 3" and the whole thing should be end grain just like a cutting board.  They also wanted the squares in the counter top to be as big as possible.  

I was pretty excited to do this project as I had never built a cutting board anywhere near this big.  The first step was to find some big wood.  I found some great wood in a warehouse north of the city, it was 3" thick which is quite uncommon to find and I was really excited get to use such great stock for this project.  

My Diamond in the Rough, The Stash of Wood in a Warehouse 

I started by crosscutting the boards to 2' in length to allow for easier jointing, thickness planing, and glue ups.  
Cut to Length for Jointing

The Boards were taken to a thickness of 2.75' and then ripped to a width of 2.875.  They were glued up and then the 2.875" thickness was taken down to 2.75".  

2.75"x 2.75" Segments Ready for Glue up

First Round of Glue ups
Once the thickness planing was done the boards were cross cut to 3" which is the total thickness of the counter top.  

Cross Cutting the First Glueup
When gluing the crosscut segments together I used slots for biscuits to help with alignment and assembled half the counter top at a time.  

Gluing up the Crosscut Segments
Once the halves were built I used a large circular saw on a track to straighten out the minor discrepancies before gluing the two halves together.  

Straightening out the Center for Glueup
With the whole counter top assembled I could then use the large circ saw with track to trim the ends and edges to final dimensions.  

Trimming to Final Dimensions

Ready for Sanding
Once the counter top was sanded I added a small round over to all the edges and I treated the counter top with mineral oil and beeswax, the same finish I use on cutting boards and serving trays and took the counter top over to their home for installation.  

Finished Countertop Ready for Installation

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


I had a piece of maple with holes in it which I kept considering for some sort of coffee table, but I could never quite think of exactly what to do with it.  I decided to just try and show off the wood as best I could and figured a vertical surface would be best for that.  Ergo, an interior door! 

The maple board needed some serious flattening and after a number of slab flattening projects I have finally come up with a reasonably efficient way of working.  After setting the slab on a level surface I now mount a construction laser which projects a horizontal line for me to sight against.  Then, I can use a power plane to quickly remove a lot of material.  If needed I then use a router on tracks to do a final surfacing and finish with belt, orbital, and hand sanding.  

Flattening the Slab

Once flattened, I used a grinder, rasps, and sanding to cleanup all the live edges of the board.  Due to the slope of the edges, this narrowed the board considerably and made the openings quite a bit bigger. 

Cleaning up the Edges of the Board
I made a frame for the door out of Honduran Mahogany, the Mahogany was chosen because of the colors and tones it shares with the maple.  This was my first time working with Honduran Mahogany and it truly is a joy to work with, it takes machining and hand work exceptionally well and is rich in color.  With the frame clamped together I positioning it over the slab which I had purposly kept over size to allow for some adjustment in deciding exactly where and how it would be positioned in the frame.  

Playing with Composition
Once I had the layout figured I used a guide track and circular saw to cut the panel to size.  I did a dry assembly and started to plan out the panels which would infill the holes in the center panel.  

Circular Saw and Guide Track
Test Fit with Infill Panels
The infill panels were used as templates for some sheats.  I haven't worked with copper before so there was a bit of a learning curve as to how to work with it.  This is by no means a "how to do", it is more of a "how I did".   

Tracing the Needed Shapes on the Copper
First I tried cutting the copper with a router. This was a bit slow and created a ton of copper shavings.  I gave up that technique and moved over to the bandsaw, this worked much better and is definitly how I would work with it in the future.  

Routed Results
After cutting out the pieces I proceeded to remove the tarnish from the copper with some sanding and polishes.  This left the copper with a bright and shiny finish with almost no marks from it's previous life as siding on an old cabin.  I then added a mild darkening patina to the copper by wiping on bleach and letting it dry in the air.  I also added some creases to the copper by folding and unfolding it with my hands.  Then a light sanding removed the patina from the ridges created in the bending process.  

Copper Ready to Glue to the Panels
 After gluing the copper sheets to the plywood panels I used a trim router to bring the copper flush with the plywood.  It was a bit slower than a regular veneer but the carbide router bits still got the job done.  

Routed Insert Panels

Copper Panels Viewed in a Raking Light

The shape of the panel inserts meant that only one of them could be inserted into a dado.  The other two needed to be placed into rebates in the maple and then into dados in the mahogany frame.  I needed to conceal the seam.  I tried to conceal it with copper tape, however I'm not 100% satisfied with the result and I think I will have to try and redo it using some came, a traditional beading used on door windows.  

Copper Foil Tape on Rebate Seams 

I Particularly Like the Three Dimensional Quality to the Copper

This beauty was done as a spec piece as I just had to see the idea through to the end.  If anyone knows someone who might be interested in the piece please let me know.  

The Finished Door

Friday, 21 August 2015

Slab Table

If anyone out there read my entry from last September you may remember that I brought home a very large piece of wood from the coast last summer.  If you want a refresher or just want to see the pics of this big piece of wood on the roof of my Matrix follow the link to Big Wood.  The Slab of wood was just over 12' long, varied from 40" to 44" in width and was 4.5" thick; it sat in the shop through the winter and though there was a little interest from others in having a table made nobody was willing to take the plunge.  So, I eventually decided to just do it.  I decided that as spectacular as a 12' long table is it would be far more practical to build a little smaller and I wanted to build the whole table out of this pieces of wood.  

The Slab in Storage in the Shop

Just for Reference Sake, an Approximate Place Setting

After a bit of deliberation I decided to go with the plan in the sketch below.  I was able to get a pair of legs 27" tall as well as a table top 6'6" long.  Since the legs are from the center of the board and are being mounted in the center of the board I couldn't have hoped for a better situation with regards to wood movement.  

The Plan for the Slab
The first step was to define the center line of the slab.  I measured in from the edges at each end to mark the middle of the ends and then connected those lines to mark my centerline.  From the centerline I struck off a pair of lines perpendicular to the centerline to have a pair of parallel lines to start from.  Those lines were cut with a large circular saw and finished off by hand.  

10" Circular Saw and Shop Made Edge Guide

Finishing off the Cut by Hand
Once the board was cut into the major pieces it was time to start leveling them.  By far, the fastest way I have found to do this is to use a power plane to bring everything to within a quarter inch of level.  This gets most of the heavy lifting done relatively quickly and creates a massive pile of shavings.  

Leveling the Slab with a 6" Power Plane 

Nanook Enjoying a Soft Bed

The Slab After Power Planing

With the planing done I set up a set of tracks for the router to ride over which brings the surface of the slab to within 1/32" of level.  The rest can be finished off with the belt, orbital, and hand sanding.  Then flip the board and repeat.    
Router up on Tracks, Leveling the Slab

The Slab After the Router Leveling

Once leveled, I added in a few butterfly keys and filled the cracks with some epoxy and proceeded to sand the epoxy flush.  Then on to sanding the edges of the boards, to maintain the edges I used sand paper backed with a sanding sponge and a rasp on the edges to break all the edges.  

Filling the Cracks with Black Dyed Epoxy

Sanded Edges

Because of its size and weight I wanted to make sure that the table could be easily disassembled, I also wanted to make sure that none of the fasteners could be seen.  This led to my first time welding.  My friend Gord has a welder and showed my what to do.  We started with a plate of metal and welded on some nuts.  I also welded some nuts to the ends of some threaded rod.  

My First Welding Job
The plates with nuts were recessed into the underside of the table, and I drilled two holes through the length of each leg for the threaded rod.  

Plates Recessed into the Underside of the Table Top

A Test Fit of the Hardware

The First Assembly
 Once the joinery and hardware was working smoothly I applied a thinned epoxy to the table top and then lacquered the legs, stretcher, and table top.  

Adding Epoxy to the Table Top

Finished Table Top

This table will be on display at Southcentre mall from September 11 to 17 as part of the Southern Alberta Woodworkers Society's Fine Works in Wood Exhibition.  There will be lots of original works to be seen so if you have a chance to get to the mall for the show I'd really recommend it.  

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Random End Grain Cutting Board

It's hard to believe that a half year has gone by since I last posted anything to this blog.  It has not been for lack of work though.  At the end of the year I left Nexen and have been working in construction full time,  Doing mostly renovations and such my time in the shop was reduced greatly and many of my woodworking projects were shelved.  As they came off the shelf and I worked on them I neglected to post anything about them.  Thus, I have a little catching up to do.

The random end grain cutting board grew out of a pile of offcuts.  Of course the project the offcuts came from has yet to be completed, but what's important is that it produced many 2' long scraps which had been cut at 60 degrees.  I took a maple and a cherry scrap and glued up the 60 deg faces to build back up to rectangles.  

60 Degree Maple and Cherry Scraps
The next few steps are pretty much like any other cutting board so I'll gloss over them with just the photos.     

Gluing Initial Panel
Crosscutting Strips of Initial Panel
First End Grain Glue Up

First End Grain Glue Up
This is where things get a little unusual.  Though the board was already a bit random in its appearance due to the angled pieces from which it started I didn't think it random enough.  So I set an angle on the mitre gauge on the table saw and cut the panel into angled strips (note the wedges at the top and bottom of the next photo).  

Glue Up of Angled Strips
This process of cutting the board at an angle and regluing the resultant strips randomly was repeated 4 times, which resulted in a board with a wide variety of angles and sizes of pieces.  Once satisfied with the degree of randomness, the board was squared up, leveled and sanded.  

The Board Sanded and Ready for Roundovers and Handles
With the addition of some roundovers and handles the board was completed.  Ready for a finish sanding and the application of mineral oil and some board butter.  

The Finished Board with Board Butter Applied