Worst endgrain cutting board ever - need some tips

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Project by lumberjoe posted 11-14-2012 06:25 PM 3579 views 2 times favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This came out like crap. None of the squares match up at all. I could use some tips on the glue up as that is where I failed.

The edge grain board was glued up and flattened perfectly. I then cut it into strips using my sled and cross cut blade. I arranged the pieces and did a dry fit with clamps. There were no gaps at all and it lined up perfectly. I made a jig out out melamine to aid with the glue up. It’s basically a platform with a fence on one side. Obviously it shifted when I glued it. It was tough to tell because of the squeeze out. By the time the squeeze out hardened up enough to scrape off and not smear into the rest of the board, it was too late to fix it.

The good news is my router plane worked well and made flattening it a breeze. The design isn’t great either but This was largely a proof of concept made from scraps, and I didn’t have high hopes.


38 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


6002 posts in 3355 days

#1 posted 11-14-2012 06:44 PM

Try adding a second fence on your glueup platform. That would register two edges of the cb, and should prevent alignment problems.
I like to shoot a brad through small strips to align them, but I don’t think that would work in this case. Even an 18 gauge brad could split those small cubes.
Hey good luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30461 posts in 2880 days

#2 posted 11-14-2012 06:45 PM

Oh no, the worst one was burned at my house several months ago :-)

I am sure the CB masters here can help you out!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 2790 days

#3 posted 11-14-2012 06:50 PM

Monte, this is headed for the burn pile as well – unless I can come up with a need for a “shop” cutting board. It’s definitely not going in my kitchen, that’s for sure.

Shooting brads is an interesting idea. I think you are right though – they may split.


View Don's profile


552 posts in 3784 days

#4 posted 11-14-2012 07:00 PM

Nothing horrific about the board – I wouldn’t be tossing it out. We are our worst critics….

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3375 days

#5 posted 11-14-2012 07:28 PM

What Don said. But I can see from the pictures that your lumber was NOT quartersawn.
Best way to avoid this is to go shopping for QS lumber and align the grain over the entire board. The glue made your pieces expand a bit, and as they are different woods when drying out they contracted differently for each species.

If you really feel bad about it, why not route out a channel at the border joints to fool the eye and hide the mishap? The slight misalignment at the center looks really good to me actually.

I use the “brutal drying” method when veneering (I use a clothes iron on the veneer stock before even cutting it to dry it out as much as I can so it won’t move afterwards), as it’s even more sensitive to moisture than thick lumber. You could build yourself a small kiln of sorts to make sure all the woods are bone dry before cutting them, and use epoxy to glue them up. That way when all is said and done you won’t have any major movement.

Or for small parts, if the oven in your kitchen can be set to ~ 75°C (and the wood doesn’t stink!), when Mrs LumberJill isn’t home, well, you get the point… ;) Wood won’t burn at such a low temperature, as long as your oven is really well regulated and the lumber doesn’t touch the upper heating elements.
Beware if you try with spalted woods though, as certain colors from certain spalters may fade and die (check out here ).

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 2790 days

#6 posted 11-14-2012 07:32 PM

The wood was all KD and I’m pretty sure it was nice and dry. I have never in my life seen quartersawn walnut or purpleheart, so I don’t even want to know what it costs :)

The pieces definitely shifted during glue up. I actually ran the edges through the table saw to square them up (on the cross cut sled) as they were SOO off.


View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2567 days

#7 posted 11-14-2012 07:45 PM

It doesn’t look horrible to me. Hey, you can always speak to how difficult it was to create the appearance of mis-algnment : )

-- atta boy Clarence!

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2717 days

#8 posted 11-14-2012 07:50 PM

It looks fantastic at my end. There are times when imperfections bring out the beauty of a thing.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2596 days

#9 posted 11-14-2012 07:53 PM

i think it looks pretty cool because the pieces are shifted consistently off. The sapwood is awesome too.

Or crosscut it down the middle of the second glue-up seam, and re-glue it. That should fix it perfectly.

If you really hate it, i’m sure someone would take it for free. (i would)

-- Joel

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3650 days

#10 posted 11-14-2012 07:57 PM

Joe, this link should help ease your pain just a little. Mike was a good friend of mine and I got to see this wreck personally. He had a good sense of humor about it and learned from his mistake. You will work it out :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 3976 days

#11 posted 11-14-2012 08:09 PM

It doesn’t look as bad as you think. Obviously it shifted while glueing. Glue is slippery stuff when wet and the pressure between clamps can do some crazy things to a level board trying to react to the pressure. I’ve had a few of my boards do this in the past. It is also one of the main reasons I specifically design my boards to offset all of the joints. See some previous 2-3-4-3 patterns.

I wouldn’t give up so quickly. I would (and have in the past) set up your table saw fence and cut through the worst joints. Easiest would be to cut off the maple ends lengthwise and re-glue them into place. You could also make one rip right down the center where the maple meets purpleheart. With those 3 cuts and ample time spent on setting up the glue clamps, I think you will be fine.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3650 days

#12 posted 11-14-2012 08:19 PM

McLean has very sound advice Joe. The board is more than salvageable and just fixing the Maple ends alone would make a huge difference visually. The fix really is nothing more than just a couple cosmetic tweaks.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Blahg's profile


8 posts in 2561 days

#13 posted 11-14-2012 08:20 PM

An easy fix for alignment might be to make a jig to drill a small hole that you can put a dowel in to help align everything. Doesn’t have to go all the way through, just enough you could put a 1/4” long dowel halfway into each piece, then you’d have everything lined up without any fuss and your clamps couldn’t shift things around on you.

Just set up a fence with a stop on your drill press, set your depth stop, and trial on a few pieces until the hole is right in the center of the sections, then drill flip drill flip drill flip until you’re done. Also would help make sure everything is level as well, so you wouldn’t have as much cleanup to do because of pieces that didn’t quite lay flat.

View a1Jim's profile


117746 posts in 4119 days

#14 posted 11-14-2012 08:30 PM

This board has great looking woods and is far from being firewood. I was going to say the same thing as Mclean to just rip the edges off and cut out this misalignment on the both the dark and light woods and reglue. I don’t see the need to cut it down the middle. Some times it’s not just knowing how to make something it’s also know how to fix what goes wrong. Remember you know all of the defects in your projects, but 98.5% of the folks out there will think it’s great and the others will still think it looks great even though they think something might be a little off.
I guess I was typing when other above me said similar comments.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 2790 days

#15 posted 11-14-2012 08:37 PM

Those are all really good tips. I’ve already moved on to the next one, so this is just a happy accident. Fixing the maple on the ends is a great idea though. I may give that a shot. My only issue would be flattening it again. It’s waxed and finished. Getting that off is no fun at all.

David, that’s pretty funny! here is my first attempt. It exploded in clamps. This is why I do a dry fit with clamps now:

I break pieces off from time to time for segmented turnings.


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