Monday, October 3, 2016

Are you from a good cutting board State?

One of my sons lives in the Bay area but loves Oregon, so I came up with an idea for a gift to make him:  a cutting board shaped like Oregon.  I suppose you could do this with almost any State, but the western, rectangular ones work especially well.  I settled on 13"x17" and my wife used a copier to produce a map the right size.

I made up a blank out of strips of maple and walnut and then used spray adhesive to attach the map to it.  Took me awhile, but I got the outline shaped nicely:

That's when things went south.  I read a blog post recently about the courage to fail, and I agree with the point, but there is another kind of failure that results not from courage but from idocy, in this case, mine.  I will spare you the sordid details because the things I did wrong are so patently obvious that you would not gain anything from reading them.  Suffice it to say that, if you ever choose to apply a paper template to a workpiece with spray adhesive, something I am likely to never do again, use a solvent to remove it rather than mechanical means and do not try to clean up scratches on maple that has lots of reversing grain with a plane that is not freshly sharpened.  In the end, I chopped up the cutting board for kindling and went inside to drink bourbon.  Sometimes my stupidity knows no bounds.

Time for a fresh start.  This time around, I glued the map to a piece of 1/4" baltic birch plywood and shaped a reusable template.  Then I sharpened my planes very carefully.  Only then did I glue up another blank and shape the outline a second time.  I did learn something from my first attempt.  Carving the fine details of the Oregon coastline took a lot of time and produced a cutting board that felt rough in the hand.  It occurred to me that my son wouldn't be using the cutting board to navigate at sea on a dark and stormy night, so I made the template a lot smoother.

Deep breath.  The front and the back needed to be flattened a bit and there was some tearout.  The maple had even more reversing grain than the last time.  I decided to use this as a learning opportunity and really think about it first, rather than after the fact like last time.  I'll share the result in the next post but, to avoid suspense, this story has a happy ending.

1 comment:

  1. Rhode Island would be a wee bit small for a cutting board. I like to quote Bob Ross the painter - there aren't any mistakes, just happy accidents. And I feel your pain.