Tumbling block cutting board

  • Advertise with us
Project by DocT posted 09-27-2009 06:52 PM 19160 views 48 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is my attempt at the end-grain “tumbling block” cutting board, made popular here on LJs by degoose. I have made several end-grain cutting boards in the past, but I have to say that this was the most challenging (on several levels). Degoose’s blog gave good pointers, and I recommend reading it if you attempt to make your own.

I made mine from Hard Maple, White Oak and Black Walnut. I started by milling my 60-degree diamond strips and assembling them into three-piece hexagonal “sausages.” This was my first taste of the clamping issues I would face throughout this project. Any discrepancy in clamping pressure would cause the pieces to slip slightly out of alignment. I resorted to clamping the three-piece glue-up with clear packing tape. It worked well, but if I did it again, I would consider wrapping it with surgical tubing instead. There was mention made in the blog of ensuring that the growth rings of the pieces are assembled perpendicular to each other…I missed that pointer. Once the sausage lengths are cut, discrepancies in growth ring orientation are very noticeable. Oh well…I drove on. (You can see the effect of this oversight around the outside of the board where the optical illusion is diminished!) Truing up the sausages with my planer and dial calipers was dicey. Making sure that the sides are all perfectly sized and even is crucial and a bit confusing. Any variance becomes additive as the hexagons are assembled.

My first attempt at glue-up and clamping was a nightmare. Too much clamping pressure in any direction causes the pieces to either slip or wedge the other pieces apart. Luckily, I made many more sausages than necessary. On my second attempt, I turned to slow set epoxy to reduce my stress and increase my open time, and settled on the strategy of clamping with a single caul along each side of the square. Even with this, there were still a few small gaps that I was forced to fill with epoxy.

The board is roughly 13” square and approximately 1 ½” thick. I finished it with mineral oil and paraffin. The final two pictures are of my salvaged first attempt as a 14” round ¾” thick and a small trivet made with left over “scraps”.

What did I learn from this?
1. Any discrepancy in the sausage is additive at assembly.
2. Pay attention to growth ring orientation for best effect.
3. Dry run your clamping strategy and use a glue with plenty of open time.
4. Don’t EVER try this again!

Many thanks to Degoose for the inspiration and blog. Proof positive of one of the benefits of LJ membership.


15 comments so far

View JoeMaryland's profile


7 posts in 4300 days

#1 posted 09-27-2009 06:55 PM

Very cool, adding to the project list … Jm

-- I've never met a tool I didn't like ...

View mtnwild's profile


4095 posts in 4642 days

#2 posted 09-27-2009 07:04 PM

Very nice, great job…..............

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 4440 days

#3 posted 09-27-2009 07:07 PM

Incredible. I still have not had the guts to try it yet. Glue-up was indeed one of my biggest problems (among many).

You should try it again!

View isetegija's profile


763 posts in 4629 days

#4 posted 09-27-2009 07:14 PM

Wow , that is absolutely awesome.
Very well done.
Thanks for sharing with us.

-- Not my woodworking

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4449 days

#5 posted 09-27-2009 07:17 PM

I have to say, you sure got a good result despite the issues you mentioned. The tumbling block design is really enhanced by the sharp contrast. Surely it was worth the effort. I’m still too scared to try one of these.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4400 days

#6 posted 09-27-2009 07:21 PM

DocT, I just finished one and know what you mean about the clamping. “tumbling block” where not the first words that came to mind while trying to clamp. LOL. Great job on yours…....and I like what you did with the left overs.

-- John @

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 4746 days

#7 posted 09-27-2009 09:39 PM

Great job DocT!! sure looks 3 dimensional . Thanks for posting this it will come in handy when I’m ready to tackle mine.

Superb Craftsmanship!!!

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4528 days

#8 posted 09-28-2009 02:32 PM

Doc they ame out fantastic.

Great job


-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4572 days

#9 posted 09-28-2009 05:57 PM

wow that is very impressive , i also think it was definitely work the effort. i also know it is over my skill level.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View kine97/Theresa's profile


123 posts in 4893 days

#10 posted 09-30-2009 02:17 AM

I hope you are entering that in some kind of woodworking contest!
Tis Awesome!

-- "My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning, and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can." -Cary Grant

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2854 posts in 4707 days

#11 posted 10-04-2009 12:44 AM

WOW! It looks very 3d. Great job

-- Dennis Zongker

View DocT's profile


109 posts in 4553 days

#12 posted 10-04-2009 01:54 AM

Thanks for all the kind comments everybody!


View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4692 days

#13 posted 10-04-2009 02:22 AM

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4469 days

#14 posted 10-19-2009 04:55 AM

Sorry to take so long to comment… I admit I missed this earlier… very nicely done… glad you have learned not to do this again… I have not… LOL The points you bring up are relevant to all woodworking.
There is a great learning curve with all new experiences and I see you have had your share of fun…LOL again.
Overall a great job of a difficult design.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 4557 days

#15 posted 10-19-2009 05:14 AM


-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics