Step 5 – 1st Glue-Up: Light Colored Wood and Dark Edge Strips
Before assembling the cutting board I chose to glue the Walnut strips to the edges of the Maple strips. I use Titebond III which is food safe and works very well for cutting boards. It’s very important to clamp all the pieces tight and also use culls to keep the pieces flat until they dry.
Once the glue dries I run these strips back through the table saw and remove approximately 1/16″ from the first side of each piece. Then I turn the pieces over and adjust the table saw so that the width matches the previously cut 1-1/2″ wide Purpleheart. By doing this I’m trying to match the final width of all the pieces which makes the assembly look nearly perfect.
Step 6 – Cross-Cutting Pieces To Length
The next step really requires patience, planning and the old saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once”. This is also where it’s really important to have your design on a piece of paper. I numbered each piece on the drawing, then marked each piece of wood approximately before I did any cutting. If you want the board to truly look like pieces of wood that are weaved together then it’s critical that you cut each piece and discard pieces in between adjacent pieces so the grain looks natural.
As you can see in the photo above, I started with the dark pieces that are all squares. If you look closely, all the grain is running along the length of the board. The pieces in each row were cut from the same strip. In fact, where the gaps exist, I cut out that block and tossed it. This ensures that the grain in each piece is where it would have been along the strip if the pieces were truly “woven” together.
To cut these pieces you can do it one of two ways. The first way is using a miter gauge along with a stop block setup on the fence. Once you get the fence in the right place so it cuts the length you want the pieces should all be exactly the same. The other method which I prefer is using a cross-cut sled (I have an article on how to build one in the workshop section if you’re interested in building one). Regardless of how you cross-cut the pieces, it’s really critical that you be precise. As you can see below, I was able to get my pieces within 0.001″ of the same width and length.
After cutting the squares I moved on to cutting the pieces of Maple with the Walnut edging. Before removing the stop block for the Purpleheart squares I cut six pieces of the Maple the same size (NOTE: be sure that you cut those six pieces off the strips that will be used for the adjacent longer pieces and keep track of which row they go in). Then I used the cross-cut sled with a stop block and a scrap piece of wood until I had a piece cut to 4-1/2″ (the width of 3 blocks).
Now I cut all of the long pieces being sure to keep track of which row they belong in and the matching adjacent pieces so the grain lines up. To make the illusion look really good be sure to cut out the short pieces where the pattern is covered by the perpendicular pieces. As you cut the pieces keep track of them by loose fitting the design just like I did in the photo above.