Checkerboard End Grain Cutting Board #1: Skecthup Model....ya, you heard me right...of a cutting board

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Blog entry by Brad_Nailor posted 05-29-2009 05:11 AM 20284 reads 8 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Checkerboard End Grain Cutting Board series Part 2: Putting it together »

I know what your thinking…this lunatic made a Sketchup model of a cutting board? Can’t he just wing it?
Ya sure, I have made quite a few cutting boards with and without plans. The few I have done plans for were in Autodcad, to work out the design details, but this is the first time I have used SU for planning a cutting board. I wanted to be able to know exactly how much material I was going to need, and how it was going to have to be glued up so it would come out exactly as I wanted.

This is actually the first custom cutting board I have been paid to make. In a previous project post I showed a cutting board I made for a friend to give to his wife for mothers day. A neighbor of his saw it and wanted one of his own. My friend showed him pictures I had sent him of the end grain checkerboard cutting boards I made and he wanted one, only full size 12×16, 1 1/2” thick with a half size border around it. And he wanted the checks to be 1 1/2” square. So I needed to be precise about how I glued up the blanks, so I would have enough material to make sure it came out the right size. SU is perfect for this, I did three different models, the first one shows the first glue up with all the material sizes. The length takes into account how many cuts I need at 1 1/2” including saw kerfs.

The next model shows the second glue up. After the 1st glue up is scraped, flattened, and sanded to 1 1/2” thick, (Usually I would plane it flat, but this one wont fit through my planer!) I take 1 5/8” rips and set them on end and offset every other row…

The last model shows the finished board as close to the dimensions that the customer wanted I can get while maintaining the other criteria. Sanded to 1 1/2” and the edge squares trimmed to 3/4”

Of course another great reason to do a SU model would be so I can use cutlist. Even though this isn’t a large complicated piece of furniture with lots of parts it is still a very useful program to figure out exactly how much material I need and what the exact board footage is so i can price it accurately. I used the first glue up blank to run the cutlist, once for the maple and once for the walnut

So it turns out I needed just under 2.5 board feet of each type of wood. Where I buy my hard woods, 8/4 hard maple is $6.35 b/f, and 8/4 walnut is $10.65 b/f. So my material cost is around $42.00. The walnut is pricey…maybe I should stick to all hard maple butcher blocks! So I bought all my lumber today and spent some time planing it down to 1 3/4” thick…but I am thinking…once I do the first glue up, if I have to use a drum sander to flatten and size the blank….. that could take a while to loose 1/4”. Maybe I should take my blank thickness down to 1 5/8, and just be real careful when I glue it up? What do you guys think?


9 comments so far

View Richard Williams's profile

Richard Williams

164 posts in 5250 days

#1 posted 05-29-2009 05:14 AM

Great Job. Terrific use of a great little program. Very interesting pattern you made. Play checkers or chess on it too. Dual purpose. A Green built project. Well done buddy.

-- Rich, Nevada,

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5440 days

#2 posted 05-29-2009 05:34 AM

I’ve used CAD to design cutting boards myself

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5035 days

#3 posted 05-29-2009 06:21 AM

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4841 days

#4 posted 05-29-2009 07:01 AM

I haven’t made a cutting board since high school shop class and can barely remember that, so I have a question. Why do you slide the pieces over to make the checkerboard instead of flipping them for the second glue up? Don’t you get more waste that way? Is it because they line up better that way? I’m thinking of making another is why I’m asking.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View PatentNonsense's profile


28 posts in 4824 days

#5 posted 05-29-2009 10:25 AM

How cool! I hadn’t known about sketchup, and I’m wanting to do some endgrain boards myself.
I’ve got a big wide-belt sander I’m dying to put to work.

Does anyone do boards with non-right-angle pieces? E.g. like a honeycomb? Obviously it would take a little more work in the milling, but it’d be interesting to try.


View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4819 days

#6 posted 05-29-2009 03:16 PM

It will look cool when finished.

View john's profile


2389 posts in 5839 days

#7 posted 05-29-2009 03:24 PM

The sketchup master has done it again !!

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 5415 days

#8 posted 05-30-2009 12:10 AM

Thanks for the nice comments everyone!

Dale you are 100% correct. The last one of these I made I ended on the same color row as I started so I had to do the offset thing…but since this one ends with opposite colors,I could have left off 1 row of each color and just flipped them like you said. That would have saved me some materiel….oh, and learn…I know that now for the next time!

Edit: Actuually looking at it…. if I did that, then once I cut down the border squares it would have came in at 11 1/2”...


View sawedoff's profile


155 posts in 3878 days

#9 posted 11-22-2011 11:40 PM

Looks awesome! I never knew how people did the checkerboard cutting boards… Now thanks to your sketch up I know…. Thanks!

-- still wet behind the ears.....

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