Another Cutting Board Design

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Blog entry by SPalm posted 07-12-2010 05:00 PM 120828 reads 101 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am in the process of building another board and thought I would share my thinking process along with some build pictures. When I came up with the design for the Steps board, I was thinking about how one draws a 3D box on a piece of paper. You draw a large square, and then add small mitered edges to one corner to give the appearance of seeing it slightly from the side. Making these miters out of two different woods adds to the shadows, which adds to the effect. I did this for the Steps board, but I also added a notch so that the boxes would nest into each other.

On my long commute, I was thinking about this and wondered what would happen if I reversed the sizes and used a small box with large miters. Here is a pic of the standard style of box, along with the new version:

And then I started playing with tiling this style to make a board. This really has potential. Kind of like looking into an egg crate. It believe it is only possible with an end grain style board (?). But there is a fairly large miter to contend with.

I played around using the two miter woods to obtain a banded look rather than a shadowed look. Not bad. It starts to look like boxes stacked on top of each other, rather than an egg crate.

Then I tried two different woods for the bands. This seems to increase the stacked boxes concept. I really liked it, Karen did not.

So on to a fourth (actually more than that) design. It was a compromise between the egg crate and the banded design. And it also happens to be the hardest to build.

OK. Design settled, end grain not face grain, on to the build. First step: lots and lots of stock prep. I used maple and cherry for the miters, separated by thin strips of mahogany. Some reclaimed walnut for the dark square. There is a mock assembly on the left hand side of the stack-up. Each strip is 1/2 inch thick, which should yield a board about 12×16 inches.

The next picture jumps ahead a bit. The stack-up layers were glued and lightly sent again through the thickness sander to make sure all eight were the same size. Then I rip cut the miters. This was a bit tricky and a lot scary; they are large and long. I started out rough cutting them on the bandsaw. Then I trimmed them on the tablesaw. Not bad, but not good enough for a showy board. So I did something for the first time and jointed a miter. I tilted the jointer fence towards me and fashioned a push stick. I set the blade depth to absolute minimum and sent them through. I worked amazingly well. Then I glued up the sticks.

As in the Steps board, I lightly jointed the corner of the miter to reestablish the 90 degrees. Then I formed the square on the bandsaw. The thickness sander cleaned them up.

So here is where I am. I stacked the sticks to have a look. So far pretty good. A little misalignment, but I think it is acceptable. The sticks fit together extremely nicely. All my fences were square. Now to crosscut, glue-up, sand, and finish. Things can still go wrong. The sticks are over two inches square, so I am thinking of crosscutting them on the bandsaw. This usually leaves a rough finish (which I can sand out), but a rough edge which I cannot. Maybe a sled on the BS?



I need a break (and I have a real job), but this is kind of exciting. It will try to finish this board and then I will post it to the project section.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

27 comments so far

View patron's profile


13712 posts in 4258 days

#1 posted 07-12-2010 05:09 PM

looking good so far ,

waiting for the final on this ,

you have some sweet design works !

edit ,
the last 3 pictures didn’t load till after i commented ,

very nice !

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5135 days

#2 posted 07-12-2010 05:14 PM

I think you have too much time on your hands. :-)

Seriously, this is going to be beautiful. I haven’t seen a pattern like this at all before.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View sras's profile


5653 posts in 4046 days

#3 posted 07-12-2010 05:22 PM

Very nice pattern – it gives a real sense of depth. Good luck on the rest of the build!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4112 days

#4 posted 07-12-2010 05:26 PM

Wow. This is going to be an impressive cutting board. Thanks for the post.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 4359 days

#5 posted 07-12-2010 05:27 PM

Steve, do you know the word masochist? LOL! Any one of those designs would lead to a truly outstanding board that would be an absolute eye catcher. Where do you find the patience? Whew!

-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4799 days

#6 posted 07-12-2010 05:31 PM

One word: Empty Nest Syndrome.
Try it, you might like it.

Eric and Rowdy:
This version is probably a bit too complicated to repeat. We call this type of design morphing “creeping elegance” here at work. But simpler versions have some potential.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View a1Jim's profile


118144 posts in 4494 days

#7 posted 07-12-2010 06:15 PM

I’m always amazed how these designs come together. Look forward to the rest of the blog. super work.


View newTim's profile


623 posts in 4524 days

#8 posted 07-12-2010 06:17 PM

I’m in.

-- tim hill

View MShort's profile


1798 posts in 4335 days

#9 posted 07-12-2010 07:08 PM

Cool Design !!!!

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4413 days

#10 posted 07-12-2010 07:13 PM

Wow, this is simply amazing !!!! Can’t wait to see the finished product.

You mentioned on the first design that you thought it would work both end grain and face grain. Do you think there would be an issue with glue up in doing it face grain? ( I have heard that gluing end grain doesn’t work do well ???)

This one REALLY intrigues me…..........

Beautiful work and great blog.

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4799 days

#11 posted 07-12-2010 07:35 PM

Hmmm. I am sure that the glued mitered corners would work with face grain. Miters are half face and half end grain. But the other side of the pieces are end grain to face grain, so, good point. It does look like a problem. I am glad that I went with the style that I did :-)

Note: I added a question mark to that point in the blog where I mentioned it.

Thanks for the thought,

Edit: I am not sure. I should check with other LJs. This style of board is very popular:
And I have built several of them. No complaints after several years. Maybe not for furniture, but OK for boards. (??)

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 4084 days

#12 posted 07-12-2010 08:19 PM

I like them all.
I also understand the empty nest, same problem here.
Look forward to the finished product.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4251 days

#13 posted 07-12-2010 08:47 PM

Great work Steven. This is going to be a sensational board. I can’t wait to see it finished.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5318 days

#14 posted 07-12-2010 09:40 PM


Some great design work. Nice looking stuff.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View degoose's profile


7279 posts in 4272 days

#15 posted 07-12-2010 10:32 PM

Taking it one step further…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

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