Tumbling block cutting boards, hopefully the third time is the charm!

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Project by jfk4032 posted 01-12-2014 04:37 PM 7830 views 14 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My goal was to have at least one of these three cutting boards ready for Thanksgiving, which I did…Actually two were finished and one almost ready to go. After seeing the tumbling block cutting boards here on LJ I had to give it a try. My first attempt failed in that I didn’t cut the 30 degree logs accurately and the one log that was cut perfect I used to make the coaster project which I posted earlier in the Fall.

From the first board to the third board I picked up the techniques and modified others to the point that I can now very accurately cut and assemble this type of tumbling block design. Maybe if there is enough interest or I have the time in the future I’ll setup a blog to show my methods.

The boards were made from maple, cherry and walnut 30 degree cut and glued up logs and what started out as a magnificent solid piece of Cocobolo for the border/gravy moat. That piece of Cocobolo was 12×24 x 1.75. It was less than an inch too short in the 24” to use a solid bordered pieces and miter them together…my first big mistake. So I wound up cutting them into small blocks to emulate the width of the cubes in the tumbling block pattern design. I also kept the end grain orientation on the borders pieces as well.

After gluing up the base tumbling block pattern design, I glued up the borders, making sure to wipe each glued surface with acetone to lessen the oily surface Cocobolo is known to have. I then mitered the borders to perfectly fit the tumbling block pattern rectangle and glued them together. I built a set of guides to router out the gravy moat accurately with a dish carving bit. I then routered out some finger holds on each side border and knocked off all of the hard edges with a roundover bit. I sanded up to 220 being sure to not close up the end grain pores going finer. I wiped on quite a few coats of mineral oil and then attached some rubber feet and was prepared for the big Thanksgiving meal.

After cutting 40 lbs. of turkey and 12 lbs of tenderloin over an hour and 15 minutes, I gave this board a thorough workout and it was soaked corner to corner and all through the moat. You can see the after shot when all of the carving was complete. I soonafter began to notice that Cocobolo border was cracking in several of the joints where glued to each other…not where glued to the tumbling block rectangle.

Unfortunately, to save the board I cut off the borders and substituted a solid walnut border. I milled it in the same manner as before with the gravy moat, finger holds and eased edges and I also added a multi-laminated spline using my new spline cutting jig.

I still have to test the new border with a thorough soaking of meat juices, but if it works, I’ll cut off the other Cocobolo border and correct the second board as well and complete the third board to finish the set. Some people have asked me why I would actually use such a nice cutting board and my answer is that it is a cutting board, not a wall hanging! My intarsia pieces are used as wall hangings, my cutting boards, bread knives and pizza peels, although I am meticulous and very quality conscious, do look nice and pretty but they are used as they are intended to in my house.

I just finished a blog on this build:

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

10 comments so far

View wooded's profile


371 posts in 3119 days

#1 posted 01-12-2014 05:10 PM

You’ve more patience than I Gunga jfk….....................Nice Job!........................;-j

-- Joe in Pueblo West, Colo.

View SteveW's profile


397 posts in 3705 days

#2 posted 01-12-2014 05:42 PM

Those are beautiful. And I would really like to see your techniques for cutting in a blog.
Details are great,

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! SteveW

View luv2learn's profile


3073 posts in 3149 days

#3 posted 01-12-2014 05:54 PM

The tumbling block design on these beautiful cutting boards blows my mind Joel. Nice job.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Ron Ford's profile

Ron Ford

218 posts in 2579 days

#4 posted 01-12-2014 06:07 PM

As I have said before, you are truly an artist! Beautiful, beautiful pieces Joel!!!

-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

View JL7's profile


8773 posts in 3812 days

#5 posted 01-12-2014 06:33 PM

Well done for sure. Sorry for Cocobolo dilemma, it doesn’t take to glue that well…..I too would like to see the blog….great work.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View degoose's profile


7276 posts in 4201 days

#6 posted 01-12-2014 07:40 PM

One of my favourite designs and one of the most difficult to get just right, well done…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4535 days

#7 posted 01-12-2014 08:53 PM

So beautiful : ) Sorry for your troubles, but I guess the learning curve will help on future projects : )
Looking forward to more from you !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Vince's profile


1271 posts in 4276 days

#8 posted 01-13-2014 02:13 AM

Very nice

-- Vince

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3274 days

#9 posted 01-13-2014 07:01 AM

Nice recovery – you have the courage to work with cocobolo, and win.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Ivan's profile


16217 posts in 3714 days

#10 posted 01-13-2014 06:09 PM

Amaizing and outstanding boards with 3D effect.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

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