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Thread: Cutting Board Challenge

  1. #1

    Cutting Board Challenge

    I'm relativly new to Sawmill Creek, so you'll have to excuse me if I sound inexperienced when it comes to posting these threads.

    I've been recently working on some projects for the upcoming christmas season as gifts for family and friends. The resounding suggestion has been to make cutting boards so I have begun to do that. After making a few designs, I came back about a week later only to see they had a large crack down the middle.

    I wasn't sure if the split was caused by expansion/contraction of the wood that provides the border (perhaps because they run in opposite directions) or the end grain wood in the center. If anyone can provide insight into this mysterious splitting or offer a good solution for the future it would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks so much,

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  2. #2
    There's no mystery - this mixture of pieces with differing grain directions bounded by a solid frame is a problem just waiting to happen. Wood is always expanding and contracting as it takes in moisture from or releases moisture to its environment. Any project or plans that do not take this inevitable movement into account will always split or warp - sooner or later.

    Wood movement caused by moisture is greatest in the direction parallel to the growth rings, around half as much perpendicular to the growth rings, and almost none at all parallel to the grain - along the length of a board. You have a solid outer frame, which will not change its dimensions. Then you have is another similar, inner frame. This is already a problem - just not as big as the problem of trapping all those end grain pieces, that are going to expand and contract, inside that rigid frame. And cutting boards that are constantly dunked in water and then dried out just makes the normal wood expansion and contraction problems even worse...

    You will notice that commercial end grain cutting boards are not surrounded by any sort of frame, and all the wood grain is oriented in the same directions - there is a good reason for doing this. Anytime you have two boards joined when their grain is not parallel, you must consider how the wood will move. Classical joinery that has stood the test of time all takes this movement into account.

    Sorry about your project - this design will never work - you must rethink it. Marc - the Wood Whisperer - has some good tutorials about cutting boards - and there are many others.
    Last edited by Jeff Bratt; 12-07-2009 at 6:05 PM. Reason: Spelling

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Fauquier, Virginia

    Having just made 8 edge grain cutting boards with seven more in the works (see my post I can tell you that Jeff's post is right on the money. Make either long gain or end grain boards, just don't mix the two. I also highly recommand Marc Spagnuolo's video on cutting boards.
    "In a World of Compromise, some Don't!"

  4. #4
    i wonder how the wood would have behaved if the border was also end grain.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Aurora, Colorado (Saddle Rock)
    Based on the size, it most-likely would have been okay. However, end-grain cutting boards will still move in different directions. Therefore, it is very important to alternate the growth rings. This will minimize the wood movement in any single direction.
    Clear as mud?

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