Board Design & Material Choices

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Mar 1, 2011
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Looking for some feedback, suggestions, idea, concepts, considerations etc.

I've recently made some alterations to our kitchen, SWMBO was the task master, and against my better judgement we ended up losing some valuable counter / prep area.

I have a relatively large kitchen area so space is not a problem.

Whilst looking at options I hit on the notion of building either a wide butchers block or perhaps two side by side butchers blocks.

Some ideas I've tossed around:

  1. The top will have two removable custom chopping boards
  2. I've been toying with / considering a combination of Maple and Purpleheart - any thoughts or comments?
  3. I intend putting heavy duty castors on the piece to provide portability of the unit / units
  4. I'm looking at the idea of have a detachable "chute system" to the side of each of the boards leading to a collector bag / bin. The build up of peelings / skins waste matter is a pain - when prepping veg its nice to have a collecting bin for offcuts for use in making stock and so on.
  5. Underneath the chopping boards I'm considering installing some storage space for utensils and gadgets and perhaps some "other" stuff

Would love to get any feedback suggestions thoughts or ideas that anyone has to offer.

I'll probably make this a 2 / 3 month summer project - so I'm in no hurry to complete.

I have reasonable woodworking skills, a shed where I can work and leave fairly large pieces of WIP, & lots and lots of hand tools.

I also have access to full workshop facilities - a good friend of mine teaches at a woodworking college so everything from morticers to planer/thicknessers, spindles, drum and belt sanders, table saws, band saws etc. etc are available to me on an advance notice basis.

Look forward to reading your thoughts, ideas and input.
Personally, I wouldn't use purpleheart. The exotics can be somewhat questionable. (See the "What to Look for in a Cutting Board" thread within this sub-forum.)

The idea of having two removable blocks on the top sounds like a good idea, especially for cleaning.

Using casters to make the unit movable is sound. Look for casters that will lock.

The chute you describe is also a good idea. Look at the "Kitchen Island in Cherry and Walnut" thread also in this sub-forum. I cut a beveled chute as you described to move cuttings to a removable tray for easy disposal.

A storage shelf is good space. Anything more will only make the unit more functional. Try removable baskets for storage of potatoes, onions and other root vegetables.

Once you complete the unit, be sure to post photos of your efforts.
Thanks for the response David.

I've long admired not only your work but just about everything I've read about you too.

The reason I had selected Purpleheart was because of something I had seen / read on where they made up a board of Maple and Purpleheart.

I have lot of the kitchen press doors and drawer front fronts which I've made from Maple so I wanted to stick with that as a base. But Maple on it's own can be a little bland unless you are lucky enough to hit upon some of the more figured board lengths or come across some burr Maple. So I was looking to add a sort of accent or complimetary colour to the chopping boards.

Any ideas or suggestions?
Walnut and cherry are fine compliments to maple and considered "food safe" as well. Research the woods you want to use making sure there is something from the tree that is edible, nuts, fruits or sap. Watch out for woods that the insects won't eat.
Walnut and cherry are fine compliments to maple and considered "food safe" as well.


Would all three - Maple, Cherry & Walnut work well together in terms of seasonal / moisture movement?

The sort of finished board size I'm working on in terms of the first set of make up drawings has the boards at 20" x 30" - what size would you recommend I should aim for for the block sizes?
IMHO all three will work well together. Now, I will state that with reservations. A lot depends on the ambient humidity of the location. I have made boards with all three used in stripes and so far haven't had any problems with cracking that I have been informed of. All I can recommend is to try and see what happens over the long run. I know that sounds rather vague but I can't predict what might happen or not.

As for the finished size, whatever size works well for you is okay. I have made boards from 8 x 10 to 30 x 42 and a lot of sizes in between. As for the block size, I let the wood determine that. Using elementary woodworking procedures to eliminate defects and smooth the surfaces, I normally end up with blocks about 1 3/4 x 4 overall. Sometimes I get a better batch of stock and the blocks may be 1 7/8 x 4. And again, sometimes they can be less. Just depends on the stock and how much jointing, planing and sanding is required. I hate to discard stock but sometimes it is required to get a finished product that is acceptable.

Hope this helps. Don't forget, post photos once you have completed the project.