Router Surfacing/Planing Jig...Butcher Block Warping Phenomenon

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Forum topic by Rob posted 03-06-2014 07:30 PM 3236 views 1 time favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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66 posts in 2008 days

03-06-2014 07:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogany maple walnut humor resource jig tip trick question drill-driver planer chisel drill press router blade clamp plane sander tablesaw milling shaping finishing refurbishing joining sanding modern traditional greene and greene shaker arts and crafts rustic victorian

This is a write up of not only how I built the jig, but more importantly, WHY I built the jig. I tried as hard as possible to not make it a novel. But hey, Sht happens. And self teaching yourself a craft where there are endless variables has it’s ups and downs.
If you want to skip directly to the jig build, scroll down to the stars

I have a 3 end grain butcher blocks I’m currently working on, all varying in dimensions, patterns, and wood species. This jig was built for one specific board, that is the largest of them all. It’s L32” x W 18” x 2” ...Well, that’s the dimension that it was supposed to finish on, but after corrective measures taken, that’s not the case.. I used 8/4 Hard Maple, Walnut, and Sapelle, all milled to 1.75”Thick, and I left plenty of room for kerf, sanding, errors, etc. After the the final assembly and glue up I was ready for rounding my edges and putting on a nice finish. I just so happened to be working on 3 other boards, for family and friends, so I put this one to the side, to work on the others. Actually, I brought the board inside, to make sure it fit on my island (this one particular board was being made by request of my wife). I laid it flat on the island, and it fit perfect. Like a glove. I let it sit there over night, and throughout the next day while I was at work. I’d say all together it spent a solid 24 hours in the warmth of my house. I got home and noticed it was slightly concaved and even a little twisted. My wife was sure to point it out to me, if it wasn’t obvious that board was no longer lying perfectly flat. I inspected it. Then I shrugged. Then I grunted. Then I laid it back dow n and walked away from it… Into the garage to work on the others, that people are waiting patiently for.

So another 24 hours (repeat the same cycle), and when I got home it was even worse. More bowing, and twisted a little more. I then decided to let it sit for a few days to make sure it was done misbehaving. After thinking on the best solution to my problem (everything from using a freinds planer, buying a drum sander, to even calling my local lumber dealer to ask if I could employ their equipment) I decided that buying a drum sander that would would actually fit an W18” x L32” was def not in my budget. Using a planer wouldn’t work bc the board would be pressed flat while being fed through, only to have the deformity spring right back on the other side. So I put together a cheap, ridiclously simple to build router jig to flatten out my board. It worked like a charm. I’m sure to you veterans this is old news and you probably have made ten of these in your lifetime that easily put mine to shame. I admit in the interest of having little time, I put it together fast n dirty. I even used clamps to hold a temporary fence on the sled, bc I know when I have the time, I will build it proper. I also learned an important lesson…Actually it’s more of a reminder of something I already know. I MUST PURCHASE OR BUILD A DUST COLLECTION SYSTEM. I’ve been putting it off, and just keeping things as clean as possible as I go. But this method of surfacing is friggin messy, as you will see in the pictures. So here’s the materials, tools, and methods I used:

One sheet of MDF; 3/4” x W24” x L48” $12 (used bc it is truely flat, smooth, straight n true)
One Melamine board; 3/4” x W16” x 24” $14 (used for its slippery surface as well as true straightness, for rails for router sled to slide on)
2” screws
Titebond Glue (for butt joints)

Table Saw
Jig Saw
Router (plunge)
3/4” Straight Bit
Shims (wood scraps, cardboard)

But it worked great. It finishes very rough, but the grooves sand out and finishes flat in very little time. I lost a good amount of thickness in my board, so I would no longer call it a butcher block, but just a big big cutting board. My wife thinks its actually nicer now that its thinned down some, so what do I know…I will be finishing and posting pics of the board tonight.

Do any of you think after surfacing the board flat, that it will twist and cup on me again?
Did this happen bc I cut, glued and clamped the wood in my garage/shop that has no heat, and then I brought the board inside after all the joints were fully dried and cured? Or is it really just a mystery? Simple science would make me believe that the cold/heat transition could def have caused the warping due to the wood being cut, and forced into a position it doesnt wanna be in while out in the cold air. And then it’s taken into a warm house, where the heat makes the entire board expand…therefore joints are thrown out of whack and everything just twists to where it wants. Any advise, criticism (I know my shop needs updating and I know the jig could have been built better), comments?

-- Rob, Middletown NJ

1 reply so far

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2217 days

#1 posted 03-07-2014 04:06 AM

I concur with the wife. It sure looks thick enough to last forever. I don’t think it will move any more than it has as long as you put a good finish on it; and if it does, you have plenty of thickness to set it straight. Put several coats of mineral oil on it until is won’t absorb it any more. Heat up some bees wax with mineral oil and using a rag, rub the entire surfaces. That should provide a water resistance surface. Repeat the process if the board looks dry… Looks good. Great job; cut some cheese and have a glass of wine.


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