Things Learned At Craft Fairs

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Project by Mr M's Woodshop posted 10-14-2014 03:41 PM 3201 views 13 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

All of these newly-built boards sold over the last 3 days of events. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. The first board was sold through our new drive-by service. One of the event organizers cruised up in their golf cart, said “I’ll take that one,” handed over a credit card, and never got out of the cart as we wrapped the board. That’s fine, but I’m not going to make a drive-through lane, no matter what.

2. The second board, dubbed the zipper, is Hard Maple, Yellowheart, Padauk, Jatoba and Black Walnut. It was made out of 3/4 stock, and finished dimensions are 18″ x 16″ x 1-1/2″. End grain. Not my favorite design, but several people took to it immediately. It’s always good to break out of what you most like … because it’s a big world out there.

3. The third board was created as an option for a wedding present. I thought the fourth board would be chosen and the third was just an after thought. They wanted # 3. Perhaps I should have more afterthoughts.

4. The fourth board is a monster. It’s Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart and Cherry. 22-1/8″ x 14-3/8″ x 1-5/8″. Edge grain. I really like this board, but when that nice young family walked up, talked a bit, and the Dad said “No,” I thought we were done. The Mother then said, “Yes,” and I put the wrapped board in the bottom carrier of her baby stroller. It’s important to smile and communicate with everyone … you never know who the buyer is. And I feel for the Dad. Been there.

5. The fifth board is a design I’ve done a few times: round, with a 20 degree cant on the edge. Round boards are traditional in Chinese kitchens, but less so in western kitchens (the Pioneer Woman is one exception). I’ve now had many people walk up to these boards and assume they’re lazy susans. I haven’t made a lazy susan for years … perhaps it’s time to do another. It’s so bad to disappoint, you see!

6. After too many requests when my inventory of hard maple boards was zero, I made several. Over the last few events, they’ve been prominently displayed … and I haven’t sold one. Perhaps I shouldn’t listen to other people when I’m making new stuff in the shop. (Just don’t tell my wife.)

All boards are finished with routed handholds and non-skid rubber feet attached with stainless steel screws. Finish is mineral oil, with a topcoat of locally-produced beeswax and mineral oil.

Finally, I’m very tired of all of the misinformation that’s out there about cutting boards. I wrote about the questions customers ask me in a series on my blog; please enjoy these articles:

Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

Cutting Boards: Care & Cleaning

Cutting Boards: Restoration

If I can stay out of the shop enough this week, I want to write another article directly addressing the untruths I’ve been told recently. My favorite: the vendor of polyethylene boards telling me her company recommended sanding her plastic boards smooth – up to six times, she said! I was stunned.

Comments, criticisms and cheap hardwood in Southern California are always welcome!

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

20 comments so far

View hotncold's profile


786 posts in 1872 days

#1 posted 10-14-2014 05:08 PM

Those are beautiful boards Henry and your blog is the most informative I’ve seen.
Very nice work indeed!!

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View mloy365's profile


444 posts in 3458 days

#2 posted 10-14-2014 05:10 PM

Nice work. Thank you for all the great information.

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View lew's profile


12660 posts in 4083 days

#3 posted 10-14-2014 05:29 PM

Nice boards and good info- Thanks!

I have a friend who owns a “fine dining” restaurant. The state health inspectors forbid the use of wooden cutting boards. He must use the polyethylene boards. When they get stained, the inspectors told him he could have them sanded or run thru a planer to remove the stains- or he would have to replace them.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3395 days

#4 posted 10-14-2014 05:53 PM

Lew, those state inspectors are just making stuff up. There is NO RESEARCH that suggests that plastic boards are superior to wooden boards. Further, research has shown that sanding a plastic board just makes it a better home for more and more bacteria.

Are there state regulations that are supplanting the federal regulations? Would love to see any justification used for these mean-spirited and non-traditional policies.

The state inspectors are making your friend’s restaurant less clean. I don’t know what Pennsylvania has against wood, but I’ll stay on the left coast so I won’t have to eat there!

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2815 days

#5 posted 10-14-2014 06:10 PM

Henry, The states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming have required the use of the plastic boards for years, even some places in California do.
It’s not that they are cleaner, it is just that years ago a few studies suggested that the plastic was less likely to hold and breed bacteria than wood.
Since then, more studies have been done, most notably on done in Wisconsin have shown that many types of wood have an inherent antibacterial capability that won’t let bad stuff live long on or in the surface of the wood.

Unfortunately, health codes, like building codes and electrical codes, don’t have to follow federal law. If the local law is more stringent it can take precedence. Local health codes also do not always keep up with current beliefs.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View JimRochester's profile


547 posts in 1942 days

#6 posted 10-14-2014 06:38 PM

henry; as always beautiful work. I just finished a show this weekend also. Probably the biggest show in the area where people have to pay to get in. Tons of people, receipts were lackluster. Every vendor I talked to complained that with that many people not enough buyers Too many vendors with similar products. My only problem was some of the simpler products that are relatively inexpensive, guys were dropping the price. Why charge $30? They’d pay 35 or 39 if they paid 30. Just a pet peeve. If I’m going to sit there all weekend I want to maximize my profit.

As far as cleaning cutting boards, you can’t fight an irrational argument. I sell chemicals to many schools. They all insist on “green” chemicals. Then they tell me they use bleach to clean the cutting boards and/or kitchen. A) Not only is it not “green”, its a poison B) Bleach has absolutely no cleansing properties in it, it only sanitizes.

Yet they persist

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2815 days

#7 posted 10-14-2014 07:04 PM

JimRochester, I ran into the cleaning vs: sanitizing argument with my sons science teacher.
After dissecting whatever critter they were working on they would wipe the counters with bleach water.

That would cure the immediate problem, but all those chunks of microscopic organic particles would soon start building bacteria and mold.

He couldn’t figure out how this was happening.

I finally got the school dietician and the school nurse to explain what bleach was.

Even those with masters degrees aren’t always too smart.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View CharlesA's profile


3381 posts in 2125 days

#8 posted 10-14-2014 07:38 PM

I really like the zipper board.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3395 days

#9 posted 10-14-2014 08:00 PM

All true, Dallas, all true. And I’m all for local regulations that make our world safer … but in this case, requiring plastic cutting boards is just wrong-headed regulation that is not supported by current research … done over 20 years ago.

And I’m not against plastic boards entirely; I state in my blog that people might like to have a light weight plastic boards to use in addition to a heavier wooden board or two. But requiring plastic and excluding wood in commercial kitchens? That’s literally unhealthy.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3395 days

#10 posted 10-14-2014 10:12 PM

After further research … I apologize to restaurant inspectors on the west coast. I find no regulation prohibiting wooden cutting boards. Dallas, it appears your information was out of date, or perhaps you were misinformed.

Wyoming restaurant regulations specifically allow wooden cutting boards. See the regulation, here.

Idaho restaurant regulations specifically allow wooden cutting boards. See the regulation, page 74, here.

Washington restaurant regulations specifically allow wooden cutting boards. See the regulation, page 54, here.

Oregon restaurant regulations specifically allow wooden cutting boards. See the regulation, page 44, here.

California restaurant regulations specifically allow wooden cutting boards. See the regulation, page 63, here.

I have searched and searched, but can’t find the Pennsylvania Food Code online. I did find reference to it, saying it was based on the 2001 FDA Food Code, which does specifically allow wooden cutting boards. If I eventually find—or you do!—an official source for Pennsylvania’s Code as it refers to wooden cutting boards, please share.

Local city regulations might vary, but here I offer written proof of regulations in 5 western states, previously in question, that DO allow wooden cutting boards. As such, these state rules follow the national guidellines from the FDA.

Humbly submitted,

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View Mean_Dean's profile


6952 posts in 3475 days

#11 posted 10-15-2014 12:15 AM

Wow, all this hoopla over cutting boards…...!

These boards are beautiful, and would make a fine addition to any kitchen—domestic or commercial!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3409 posts in 3437 days

#12 posted 10-15-2014 01:43 AM

Awhile back, I posted a link to the FDA site that explained how wood was a better choice than plastic. It was long enough ago that I’m not going to search for it.

Mean_Dean, its like this- one of my own favorite quotes, (made up by me): “Since when does force of personality outweigh logic? EVERY TIME!” Every time I say this at a meeting at work where some schlub is trying to dominate the meeting with his/her crappy design, I get lots of dagger stares. Bedamned to them, reason should always prevail.

Henry- Santa Clarita! Really? I’m right down the street from you in Simi Valley! I lived in Santa Clarita (the part properly called Saugus, back in the day) from 1956 (Minnesota transplant) until 1972, when I joined the US Navy. Most of my siblings live there.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View WhoMe's profile


1564 posts in 3571 days

#13 posted 10-15-2014 05:01 AM

Regardless of the regulations, Henry, those cutting boards are awesome….
With your blogs, it has helped me tremendously with good information on woods and care that I MAY try to tackle one of these in the future.

Henry, one question though, do you drum sand the boards prior to doing the initial finish? Or do you use a planer?

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3395 days

#14 posted 10-15-2014 05:35 AM

Ha, WhoMe, you want more controversy, is that it? :-)

After glue-up, I plane the boards smooth with my DeWalt 735 13” planer. I’ve recently added the optional table extensions which has helped minimize snipe. This is an excellent planer.

I wish I had the space and resources for a drum sander … maybe someday! But, today, I use the planer on both edge grain and end grain boards.

Yup, I’m one of those. I take VERY small bites when planing edge grain. I round the top trailing edge with my ROS … and there is no chip out. I seldom plane edge grain below 1-1/4” thick, and almost NEVER plane edge grain thinner than 1”.

And, I’ve never had a problem.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View littleladywoodshop's profile


49 posts in 1639 days

#15 posted 10-24-2014 01:55 AM

Hello Henry, I recently made a square in square cutting board and finished it with mineral oil. I saw in your post “what I learned at craft shows” you mentioned mineral oil and bees wax. Can you help me understand how to use these together? Do you melt the wax and then add the oil? I want to have a nice finish on my next boards (I have 3 in process)

-- Fail to plan and you are planning to fail. Ben Franklin

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