New inlay cutting boards

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mmayo

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I make and sell a variety of cutting boards, but a new one came out this week to add to the new stuff for sale at this weekend’s Tehachapi Artisan Festival. They are made of American black walnut, cherry and rock maple wood with inlay strips using walnut, purpleheart, poplar, cherry and maple. Contrasting thin strips set off the inlays.

Too pretty to cut on? Just like pretty pens; you only live once.
 

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mark james

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I would be very reluctant to cut on one of those. But I also understand that they are made "to be used." I really like the artistry for making these, well done Mark.
 

mark james

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The first and the last in the stack look ready for a picture frame to me. As a "wood junkie" I really appreciate the grain patterns. Beautiful work.
 

mmayo

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They sell and most are used. We have two boards in our kitchen that get used daily. They have the same grain orientation and we use sharp knives. Surprisingly there are few knife cuts.
 

penicillin

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I love the beautiful design, but worry about wood movement. The "inlays" are the full thickness of the cutting board. I am concerned that they will crack over time. How old is your oldest cutting board with this design? Have you noticed any issues with separation, cracking, etc.?

My first coffee table had a similar "inlay" design with 3/4 inch cross-grain wood. After a few years, the individual pieces began to separate and crack. That is when I started to learn about wood movement.
 

mmayo

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We live in a community with serious changes in temperatures and humidity. We have cutting boards, coasters, cheese cutters and pens with the same inlays and some are several years old. Wood movement is something serious to be considered, but the rules are not hard and fast. The box you see in my avatar breaks many wood movement rules. For years (20+) I have heard that they should not survive yet they withstand direct sun and hot temps one day and cold days on another while on fishing boats. They also go from very dry conditions to 100% humidity in 24 hours as people travel from desert climates to go fishing. The boxes have all survived and I have no wood movement issues that have not been addressed. You might see that the space between the door and the rest of the front has a large gap. That gap is needed because it will narrow as humidity increases. I learned this the hard way... the box I attached was made in 2004 for a friend and has zero joint issues. It will be on my fishing trip at the end of the month. He fishes long range, far out to sea, more that thirty days a year, every year.

I employ Titebond III and serious clamping to be sure the joints are tight but not starved. A box similar to the one in my avatar survived a fall of three feet as it was tossed off the tackle rack in rough seas. I thought the worst for the guy who bought it and refused to tie it down. When the dust settled, the box had a scrape from the very rough deck and that’s it.
 

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SteveG

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These cutting boards are great! A clear step or two above typical woodworker's glue-up cutting boards. I would use one like this, but only because I am able to sand and restore as needed to perpetuate the beauty. Nice!
 

penicillin

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I know nothing about the boxes, nor which wood movement ruless they violate successfully. If you design your box with a larger gap to accommodate wood movement in the door, then you are not violating a wood movement rule, you are designing to accommodate for wood movement.

The cutting boards have a decorative strip whose grain runs counter to the body of the cutting board. Based on my own experience with similar designs, I predict that over a period of years:

* Notches will appear at the top and bottom of the strips, as they contract more than the body of the board.
* Gaps may appear between the strips and the long contrasting thin strips adjacent to them. There will be stress in the glue between them, as the glue fights the differing contraction rates of the main strips and the thin inlays.
* Cracks may appear once the glue loses the fight.

I know this because I have see it happen in projects that I have built. Be patient. It may not happen for a decade or more, but eventually it will come.

There is one advantage to your design: The main body of the cutting board is unconstrained on either side of the strip. If you had built it with two separate strips instead of a single strip, the problem would have been far worse.
 

SteveG

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The cutting boards have a decorative strip whose grain runs counter to the body of the cutting board. Based on my own experience with similar designs, I predict that over a period of years:

* Notches will appear at the top and bottom of the strips, as they contract more than the body of the board.
* Gaps may appear between the strips and the long contrasting thin strips adjacent to them. There will be stress in the glue between them, as the glue fights the differing contraction rates of the main strips and the thin inlays.
* Cracks may appear once the glue loses the fight.
Thinking of this point WRT cross-grain wood glue-up, why not keep all the grain in the same direction? It appears the assorted wood segments used to make the colorful, eye-catching ribbon of wood could be cut and laminated together such that all have the same grain direction as the body of the cutting board. That would eliminate the cross grain completely, and the on-axis dimensional variation is much, much less.
 
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