cutting board


Shock and Awe in the New Year

I can’t believe 2014 is over already!  As usual, the holidays were a whirlwind of parties, gifts, and food.  I’m looking forward to a new year filled with new projects; I have a number of shop improvements and furniture projects on my to-do list.  Now that the holiday gift projects are all wrapped up, I have a clean slate and I’m excited to get started.

Historically, I haven’t built a lot of Christmas gifts for my family, but this year presented me with the opportunity to build a small cutting board for my mom.  It was really no big deal; I don’t think it took more than two hours of my time from choosing the appropriate scrap wood to applying the final coat of oil.  The reaction that I got when she unwrapped it, however, was priceless:  no one believed me when I told them that I had made it myself.  Now, my family knows that I’m a woodworker and they’ve seen the furniture pieces in my house that I’ve built.  My mom and dad even have a corner table in their foyer that I designed and built for them.  None of those furniture pieces—despite the fact that they are all significantly more complex than a simple cutting board—ever elicited a reaction of shocked disbelief, however.

My day job is in downtown Chicago.  Every day, on my way into the office, I walk past a site where a new skyscraper is under construction.  Over the past year, I’ve watched this project progress from a big hole in the ground to a monolith of concrete, granite, and glass.  I’ve been completely indifferent to the construction process, however, because it’s just too big.  The project was so immense and so complex that my brain couldn’t process it… I just glanced at the new building everyday, shrugged, and moved on.  I think non-woodworkers have a similar reaction when they see a completed project.  A chest of drawers, a china cabinet, or a table and a set of chairs are just too big and complex to think about, so they just shrug and move on.  

A cutting board is a simple item that gets used every day.  Regular folks spend $40 or $50 for a nice cutting board and it never really occurs to them that they could make one themselves.  So, I guess some shocked reactions are understandable given the circumstances.  In 2015, I hope that all of your projects bring a little bit of happiness (or at least some shock and awe) to your loved ones, as well.  Happy New Year!

Project, Product

Clark's Cutting Board Oil and Finish

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Standard Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with the manufacturer of these products.  I purchased them with my own money and the Amazon links are provided below as a convenience for the reader; they are not affiliate links and I gain nothing if you buy them.  I just wanted to tell you about a product that I like.  So there.

It’s the holiday season… and that means shop-made gifts!  One of the items I made this year was a small cutting board from maple and cherry scraps.  When it came time to apply a finish, I decided to try out Clark’s Cutting Board Oil and Clark’s Cutting Board Finish.

Since this cutting board was raw wood, I wanted to soak it with oil before applying a final finish.  That’s where Clark’s Cutting Board Oil—a wonderfully scented mixture of mineral oil, orange oil, and lemon oil—comes in.  Could you make this yourself?  Of course.  Although, I’m fairly certain that buying mineral oil, orange oil, and lemon oil, and then spending the necessary time to get the correct mixture of the three will be more costly than just purchasing Clark’s pre-made oil mixture.  The application process was simple:  I poured some of the oil mixture on the board and rubbed it in with a clean cloth.  I propped the board up on painter’s pyramids and let it soak for a few hours.  When I came back, the majority of the oil had soaked into the wood, so I wiped it down with a clean cloth and applied a second coat.

Now, I could’ve stopped right here.  But, since this cutting board was intended as a gift for mom, I decided to go the extra mile and applied a coat of Clark’s Cutting Board Finish, as well.  This product has the consistency of a paste wax—it’s a mixture of carnauba wax, beeswax, mineral oil, orange oil, and lemon oil—and it gives you the advantage of some additional water resistance when applied on top of a standard oil treatment.  Could you make this yourself?  Of course.  But I personally wouldn’t for all of the same reasons I mentioned earlier.  Applying the finish was, again, a snap:  I rubbed it into the wood in a circular motion with a clean cloth and let it sit.  A few hours later, I came back and buffed the board with a clean cloth.  Done!

So what’s the final verdict?  Well, my cutting board looks great, is fully seasoned, and smells so good that I had to physically stop myself from gnawing on it.  When you buy a pre-made cutting board finish like this, you’re paying for convenience.  If you’re a woodworker who batches out dozens or even hundreds of cutting boards, it’ll be more economical for you to mix your own custom finish.  But for someone like me who only builds cutting boards every once in a great while, a product like this is fantastic.  It’s quick, affordable, works great, and these two bottles will last for years.