I wanted to make a chopping board with a difference. Something unusual that would stand out in a very crowded market. So here we have the happy couple chopping board, which makes a bold statement in the kitchen while also being functional and useful.
Cutting the wood
I started off with some lovely planks of beech which I got from my favourite sawmill, Ternex Ltd. Beech is a great choice of wood for making chopping boards. It is very hard, and provides a cutting surface that wears well against daily chopping but won’t ruin your knife blades. And its dense closed grain and small pores offer a good level of bacterial resistance.
After drawing the desired shapes onto the wood I cut them out with the bandsaw. I then made the holes for the faces with a drill and jigsaw. This was a bit fiddly. But I didn’t try to be too precise because I knew I’d be cleaning it up with the file afterwards.
Shaping the chopping board
Next I used a Makita hand router to round-over the edges. I always find this much more difficult than it seems on YouTube! I have to really focus to a) keep the router upright, and b) avoid burning the wood. In this project I did indeed burn the wood…a lot. However that was easily removed with the file. I wish I had space for a table router, but hey you have to make do with what you’ve got.
Next I spent a lot of time sanding and filing. I wanted to remove every irregularity and ensure all the edges were totally smooth and had a consistent profile. In fact I did so much sanding I strained my rotator cuff! But once I got the movement back in my arm I wiped white spirit over the wood to check for scratches.
Applying the finish
I also soaked the boards in water in order to raise the grain. This is an important step because the water causes the wood fibres to swell and the surface becomes very rough to the touch. You can then use sandpaper to cut off the tops of those fibres. I had to do this 3 times. I basically kept repeating the process until the water had no effect on the surface of the wood. When I started woodworking I had no idea that this was a thing. But when I saw drops of water ruining my glassy smooth surfaces I realised I had some reading to do!
So at this point I had my happy couple completed, apart from the finish.
Because these chopping boards will be in contact with food, I finished them with food-safe mineral oil. It’s the same stuff I use for the baby rattles. For many woodworkers this is a very satisfying part of the job. When you apply that finish and you see the colour change and the grain pop out, it’s a good feeling.
The completed chopping board
Look at how happy they are. I was thinking this would make a great gift for an anniversary or valentine’s day. Is it ok to give kitchen accessories to a loved one? I’ll leave that up to you!
If you’d like to make one of these, or have one made for you, feel free to contact me. Or you can receive my newsletter to get the latest news, updates and projects straight to your inbox.
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