Sentimental Cutting Boards

This is truly a one of a kind project, custom made to the highest degree. The client had a pair of offcuts from a tree that grew in the front of where they lived as a child. The tree is now gone but the memories remain. See the picture of the tree itself and the two offcuts as they appeared originally. The wood still retained the chainsaw marks, had several splits, and was losing the bark on one of the pieces. See the photo of them as they arrived (laying on the lathe in the Turnery).

The first step was to decide how to go about preserving as much of the character of the wood while creating usable cutting boards. I decided that one of the pieces' bark was so far loose and missing in sections that trying to preserve it would be impossible. The other had bark that was fairly firmly attached nearly all the way round. Using a thin epoxy I secured the bark in the places where it was loose and sanded both pieces flat on both sides.

Then it came to filling the gaps and cracks. Mixing waterproof glue with sanding dust from the initial sanding I created a filler and over a period of four days built up a solid fill in the cracks and voids. Additionally I sealed the edges of the one with the bark still in place so that any lichens growing on the bark would be rendered inert and food safe, as nearly as possible. Then it was back to sanding.

Once they were sanded back to flat, clearing any overage from filling the voids, I sanded them by hand to remove any sanding marks and soaked them in Walnut Oil. This process was another few days as I allowed the coats of oil to soak in fully and dry. The final step was to buff them and apply a light waxing with a mixture of Walnut Oil, Carnauba Wax and Beeswax. The finished produce is in the lead picture.

Now, what about the third one? This is an existing board that the client simply wanted refinished. See the before and after pictures of the larger, darker board. It was originally used for bread but had been used for cheese and onions; at least that was the smell when I sanded it. It did not need filling except in a few very small voids, but sanding away the onion and "stinky cheese" infested surface left the turnery with a very interesting smell. Most of the time ShopDog Turnery smells like freshly cut wood of various species. Midway through this project it smelled of old onions and old cheese - not a bad smell, but not one expected in a wood shop!

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