A different technique

I know, I know … how many different ways can a cutting board be made?

Well, several, but I want to focus on one particular aspect of end-grain cutting boards, which gives builders a lot of trouble.

Flattening!

Almost every end-grain cutting board reaches the final glue-up stage with a bit of misalignment between the segments. With so many glued segments, it is inevitable. 

The internet is full of methods for making the faces of these boards flat and parallel. Using a jointer and/or planer is problematic, because the end grain tends to chip out it large chunks, sometimes damaging machine, possibly injuring the operator.

Belt sanding, hand planing, router sled milling, and drum sanding are all viable techniques, but are slow, and the hand-held tool options aren’t very precise. Drum or wide-belt sanding seem to be generally acknowledged as the “best” methods, but those machines will stretch the budgets (and floor space) of many home hobby shops.

A new twist on an old method

My technique is a simplified variation on the router sled option.

Most hobbyists have a router table, or a table saw and dado stack. My technique uses either of these machines and two rails of scrap material, a little wider than your cotting board’s thickness. 

Place these rails, on edge, on a known flat surface, like a table saw, with the cutting board between them. Glue the rails to the edges of the cutting board, keeping everything referenced against the flat surface.

Now for milling

Once the rails are firmly attached, they serve as a flat reference plane for milling the cutting board. This video demonstrates the technique:


I used a router table with a 1″ end-mill bit, but the method works just as well with a dado stack in the table saw. Be sure your dado cuts a smooth bottom!

This process will give your cutting board flat and parallel sides. Sanding is still necessary, of course. But there shouldn’t be enough to make dips and waves in the board, such as might happen if you try to flatten it with s hand-held belt sander.

Until next time,

Ross

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