Making a board to put food on – Slateplate
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Making a board to put food on

I've made some slate cheese boards that are pretty cool-looking and they were very popular at a couple of craft shows that I was at. I've also made some wooden cheese boards which is what this article is about.


I want to make some more cheese boards and I thought I would explain to you how I go about making them.

I'm going to make three variations of the same basic cheese board design and for one of them i'm going to use a strip of padauk running down the middle, so I've jointed the edge to make it straight so that I can run it against the table saw fence and then I will cut two pieces of bird's-eye maple to go on either side of the padauk.

And so for the first day this is all I'm doing. I'm just gluing up this piece and then I'll let it sit overnight. When clamping like this there's always a risk that the board can warp so I put some strips of wood underneath and I clamped it to the bottom.

There isn't a lot of excess padauk so I'm just running it through the planer once to get it nice and flat. I'm just using a couple of bowls from the kitchen to mark the rounded ends of the board.

The smaller bowl that goes at one end is about five inches in diameter and the other bowl is about seven inches and then I'll use a ruler to join the two arcs together. These boards are about 20 inches long. These cuts don't need to be very precise so this no need to use a taper jig.

I'm just holding this by hand and I've lined up the line with the blade using a crosscut sled. And flip it over and cut the other side Now at the smaller end of each of the boards, I'm drilling a three inch hole and I'm using three inch Forstner bit and I've set the center of that to be 2 1/4" from the end. That'll leave 3/4" of wood wood at the top.

The maple and padauk shavings are really pretty so you might want to save those and use them as a decoration in the house. After cutting the three holes I'm cutting one more just in a piece of MDF and I'm going to use that as a gauge on the lathe.

Now I've got some pieces of wood that I'm going to use to insert into the 3 inch holes so i'm going to use a circle cutting jig on the band saw and cut each of them just to be a little bit more than three inches and then I'll clean them up on the lathe.

I'll start with a roughing gouge to get the wood just down to almost 3 inches but I don't want to go too far. That's where the wooden gauge comes in really handy. It's very useful for measuring easily. Then I'll finish it up with a skew chisel.

Now it's ready for a test fit. Then i'll repeat the process. I'll make one more out of padauk and one out of cherry. They all fit really nicely.

Before gluing them in, I'm going to head over to the band saw and cut the rounded ends of each of the boards. And then i'll clean up the saw tooth marks on the belt sander and the disk sander for the ends.

I make sure to line up the grain so that it's going in the same direction as the grain that's in the board. These pieces are thicker than the boards and I will trim off the excess after the glue has dried.

There are lots of different ways to remove the excess But I think using the band saw is probably the fastest. So I'll use a combination of the bandsaw and then run it through the drum sander. Now I'm going to drill a 2" hole inside the 3" insert and that will leave a ring of contrasting wood which will look very nice.

You have to be very careful when lining up this Forsnter bit because you want to make sure that the ring is symmetrical. You don't want to have one part that's thicker than any other so you have to take your time and be very careful with this.

Then I'll run each of the boards on the router table using a 1/4" roundover bit. We're getting close to the end. They just need to be sanded and finished applied.

After sanding, an important step is to wet the wood, let it dry, then sand it again, and then repeat. That helps to raise the grain before you apply the finish and then that way when the board gets wet it'll minimize the amount of grain that raises.

There were some cracks in the spalting in the one piece and you don't want to have any cracks in any kind of food preparation board so I'm filling those with dark brown epoxy.

The most rewarding part of the processes when you apply the finish at the end. The bird's eye figure really stands out and it looks really nice and it really emphasizes the contrast between the ring and the rest of the wood.

The padauk really pops when you apply the finish I think this is my favorite one of the three because of the spalting.

It really looks nice. So I got to ask... Would you make this cheese board?