Figured Maple Cheese Board

Inspired by some local woodworkers at the East Side Culture Crawl in Vancouver, including Chris Wong of Flair Woodworks, I decided to try using some of the smaller and more interesting pieces of lumber in my shop to create some unique and functional products. I literally have hundreds of… (how to describe this?)… blocks (?), boards (?), branches (?), uh, maybe “interesting pieces of wood” that I inherited from my woodworking father or that I have gathered over the past 20 years. Some are from Saskatchewan, most are from around BC, and some are from other parts of the world like South America, Central American and even Israel (thanks Mom!).

I started with a beautiful piece of American Black Walnut with some nice grain markings in it. I made a small cheese board for a lady in our office who was retiring after 26 years. I carved the dates of her employment into the sides, and carved some handles into it and gave it to her as a gift at her retirement party. But I neglected to take a photo of it (drat!).

That further inspired me to try something a little more ambitious. I had a fairly thick chunk of figured Maple with the edges still on it. It came from a piece of Maple that my father had cut down years before. I started by re-sawing (slicing) it in half using my bandsaw so I could maintain the live edges on each side of it. Then I hand planed the edges which would be glued together.

Resawed Maple
Resawed Maple

Above is a grainy picture of the resawed board after hand planing. The edge resting on the bandsaw table is as close to perfectly flat as a hand plane can make it.

Glued Cutting Board
Maple Cutting Board at Glue-up Stage

Here I’ve glued and clamped the maple cutting board. Fortunately, my quick grip clamps have very soft rubber covers that do not mar the live edges.

Finished Maple Cutting Board
Finished Maple Cutting Board

And here is the finished maple cutting board. You can see some unique dark lines as the maple was in the beginning stages of spalting. As I’ve explained in another post, spalting happens when a fungus gets into the wood and the wood begins to decay. If you catch it early enough and expose the wood to dry air, the fungus dies but the colours remain. Often, spalted wood has soft spots but because this was intended to be a cutting board, I wanted to maintain the integrity of the wood as best as possible so I stopped the spalting very early. The colours are limited, but visible enough to add interest and make this a very unique piece of wood.

Lastly, I’ve cut handles into the cut ends, which makes this piece more of a serving tray for artisan cheeses.

It’s not for sale, as it will be a Christmas gift from me to some deserving family or friend (Sshhh! It’s a secret.)

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