The Building of the Bulge....

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Blog entry by JL7 posted 08-11-2013 08:53 PM 7167 reads 46 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Awhile back I built on of the “bulge” cutting boards that was inspired by Scott’s post:

Click for details

Here was my original post:

Click for details

I’ve been planning for awhile to build another and wanted to try a little different technique. And there is a silent auction coming up next week for my Sister’s battle with cancer, so this will be part of that.

Here is the current board (on the left) along with the original:

What I learned building the second one, is that the little inlaid squares need to be closer to the corners to really make it pop. I have another set of blanks to make a third board, so I will apply that thought and post the results when it’s done.

Anyways, the build steps are still valid, so here it goes:

Since you need an odd number of squares in the grid (I used 9×9) I decided to build 2 blanks with the alternating Hard Maple and Walnut so the there wouldn’t be any waste (by just building one blank that won’t alternate correctly). I used 4/4 stock and a sort of bookmatch with the pairs.

I went with 1.5” squares, which yields a 13.5” board, which is also too big for my planer so keep that in mind!

This is just a visual, no glue:

I use a flip down clamp rack that mounts to the ceiling for glue-ups like this. I added a stop block on the right side to keep everything square:

Here is a little trick I learned using this clamp setup. I raise the 2 outside clamps slightly be putting an allen wrench under them inside the groove that locates the clamps (2 per clamp) and this means your project only contacts the bars of the 2 outside clamps. So any inaccuracy of your clamp setup is reduced. It’s hard to see in the photo, but I circled it:

Again, the blanks were too big for the planer, so used the drum sander to flatten them:

I really like the accuracy of cuts I get on the RAS, so I built a jig to hold everything tight and square to cut the blanks:

Again, the blanks were just a bit too long for the saw, so had to use a hand saw to finish the cut:

I hand sand the blanks on a piece of MDF with PSA sandpaper until all the blanks fit tightly with no clamps. It seems that no matter how careful I prep the materials, there is usually still a few gaps, so this is a key step for me:

Now, the blanks are just numbered and dry fit (not glued!) and mark the inlay pattern in pencil:

This is the difference from the original build, I decided to cut the mortises on each blank before the final glue-up. Used a 3/8” chisel:

Here’s a trick to make the locations a snap. Use a flat board as a base and mark out each segment location and use a square to mark the board. Then align and clamp this board on the mortising machine. Since the inlays may fall on either side of each block, you also need a second set of lines for those. Hope this makes sense, and only takes a few minutes to setup.

It takes awhile to carve all those mortises, and (in my case) burns quite a bit cutting into the end grain…...especially that Hard Maple. The shop was a haze of smoke…....(hold your comments here…)

I spent a hour or so cleaning the little bits out of the burned mortises! Then it was time to glue it up. I decided to keep the mortise side down on the glue-up because I didn’t want the glue squeeze-out in the holes:

Here’s another shot of the stop I use for the glue-up. It is angled so has minimum contact with the project and a strip on blue tape keeps the glue away.

I cut some Maple and Walnut strips 3/8” square and just bit oversize and drive them home:

Back to the drum sander. This is a real time saver, but still takes a lot of time:

No pictures, but 7 grits of sanding with the ROS.

For the finger cut-outs, I use the tray and bowl bit in the router table with a simple adjustable fence that uses dowels to set a start and stop. Take several shallow passes:

I like to “sign” my stuff and lately have been using the mini CNC, but this too big for that. So I got out my semi homemade branding iron. I have a jig to help keep things square, but it is still tricky to get just the right amount of “burn”...this was just a bit too much, but it will do:

For the feet, I have a bunch of little bumpers I got for nothing. It turns out they fit tightly into a 3/8” hole so I counter-bore a little hole for them:

If you made it this far, thanks for reading thru….I have noticed that the “bulge effect is more pronounced from a distance and I do believe that “thin” lines at the corner inlays are key, so I will try again later!

Parting shot…....thanks for looking…..

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

28 comments so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3758 posts in 2672 days

#1 posted 08-11-2013 09:07 PM

Nice job, Jeff! I can definitely can see the “bulge”. Very nice effect. Thanks for the tutorial.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2496 days

#2 posted 08-11-2013 09:13 PM

Wow Jeff, that’s a lot of work, and the boards are great.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3855 days

#3 posted 08-11-2013 09:42 PM


-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View JL7's profile


8739 posts in 3386 days

#4 posted 08-11-2013 09:46 PM

Thanks folks…...really appreciate it…

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View DIYaholic's profile


19805 posts in 3096 days

#5 posted 08-11-2013 09:47 PM

That really is quite the process….
I do believe though, that you’ve got it all “ironed” out!!!

Fantastic looking board(s)!!!
These will surely be bringing in a handsome penny at the auction!

All the best to your sister….
& may the auction produce a windfall!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View JL7's profile


8739 posts in 3386 days

#6 posted 08-11-2013 10:03 PM

Thanks Randy…....

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3035 days

#7 posted 08-11-2013 10:43 PM

Jeff this has been in my favorites for a while it the reason i want a drum sander love that design and that was a great blog on the build thats my friend

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View JL7's profile


8739 posts in 3386 days

#8 posted 08-11-2013 11:13 PM

Thanks Eddie…..can’t wait to see your drum sander build, it’s well worth it! Thanks for stopping….

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Dave's profile


11432 posts in 3261 days

#9 posted 08-11-2013 11:18 PM

Jeff you are telling all your secrets. Thanks. You have really got the optical illusion popping.
I hope it brings a great deal of money.
You and your sister have been heavy on my mind.
Where did you get the branding iron made?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3408 days

#10 posted 08-11-2013 11:33 PM

You nailed it.
Thanks for the mention.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View JL7's profile


8739 posts in 3386 days

#11 posted 08-11-2013 11:49 PM

Hey Dave… real secrets here…..I’m not the NSA….or am I? The branding iron was fashioned at work..(we have a tool shop) with the help of some friends. Appreciate it!

Scott, thanks for the inspiration….........

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View boxcarmarty's profile


17092 posts in 2781 days

#12 posted 08-12-2013 12:39 AM

Jeff, Your squares are crooked. Other than that, the boards look pretty good…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3111 days

#13 posted 08-12-2013 12:46 AM

Way cool design and your patience shows in the final product. That looks like a lot of time and effort but it turned out just super.

Your sis remains in my prayers.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View patron's profile


13649 posts in 3762 days

#14 posted 08-12-2013 12:47 AM

great work jeff

nice to see how a new idea is continued
and credit given to it’s originator scott

as usual
there is not just the work itself
but the innovations that are given life too

well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View JL7's profile


8739 posts in 3386 days

#15 posted 08-12-2013 12:57 AM

Marty – finding crooked boards is the easy part…...getting them to fit is another….

Thanks Andy….much appreciated…

Good to see you David, hope you are well…...thanks for the words…

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

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