Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

A Cracking Discovery…

Remember those videos I shot of the end-grain cutting boards project a few months ago? Yeah, they went down really well and, what’s more, they seem to be experiencing continual growth on a gradual basis. One was a gift to my mother and the other two of the larger ones still remain unused in one of my kitchen cupboards – I’ve found that the smallest square (not rectangular) size actually suits me very well for sandwich-making and for the buttering of toast.

And then, only two-weeks ago, I noticed this:

It appears as though one of the glue joints is beginning to fail (if this isn’t an indication that it has ‘failed’ already…). Fortunately, this is only occurrence of its kind. There’s no sign of anything like this on either of my other boards although, that’s probably down to the fact that they haven’t yet been used(!).

If I remember rightly, Marc Spagnuolo (aka. The Wood Whisperer) had some similar problems with his cutting boards, either last year or the year before. With Marc’s board, I think it was the timber that split and not the join between two blocks…? I can’t quite remember. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I’d hazard a guess that I’ve been a bit too ‘frugal’ with the application of glue – and, it wouldn’t be for the first time, either! 😳 It is possible that the timber I used had an moisture content that varied across its width and down its length… That would suggest that at least one of these blocks has begun to shrink – but, it might also suggest that more problems are only weeks, days, maybe even hours away…! Grain direction may also have played its part, as timber will reduce in dimension parallel to the growth rings… Who really knows for certain!

To clean this board, I’ve only ever wiped them down with clean water, which is what’s commonly advised. Sometimes, it requires a bit of work with a scouring pad to remove any dry crumbs but, I’ve never soaked it in water, nor have I ever given it ‘a bath’ while doing the washing up. But, I do spill my decaf tea quite a lot while making a cup… Perhaps a pool of hot water and milk is to blame?

Those cracks, however, have been present since day one – well, the day in which I finished preparing the assembled cutting board, ready for oiling. They don’t appear to have gotten any worse and, rather fortunately, I’ve not yet seen any similar cracks or checks crop up in new places. To be honest, I was half-expecting they would, as I’ve had this kind of problem before with white beech and, unless you’re prepared to buy new wood, there isn’t any awful lot that you can do about it. Even after several weeks of acclimatisation and some careful preparatory machining work, I’ve found that this species can defy all of your best efforts to maintain it.

…So, why was I suggesting that I might use beech for an up-and-coming project, in my previous post?!? 😀

Thanks for reading.

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2 responses to “A Cracking Discovery…

  1. Yaakov 16/09/2011 at 15:26

    You need to talk to Lazy Larry “the cutting board” man.
    I have had the same problems too.
    yaakov….

  2. woodshopcowboy 18/09/2011 at 22:24

    When that happens to me, it’s a combo of lack of glue or a bad clamp up. Sometimes it’s just the wood itself asserting its independence.

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