Making of Exotic Hardwood Cutting Boards

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , , | Posted On Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Many of you have probably already made cutting boards before, and it's a pretty common sense process, but I'm going to walk you through it anyway. I started out just making cutting boards from scraps, but with the demand I had for them, I decided to start making them in "batches". I drove down to my nearest lumber store and purchased about $200 worth of various exotic hardwoods. Wenge, yellowheart, purpleheart, walnut, and maple are my primary choices since they are hard enough to resist slices of the knife. Because I don't own a very nice table saw, I had the lumber company straight-line rip my boards for ten cents per board foot. If you do want to put a straight edge on the boards yourself, I recommend finding a solid piece of angle iron and using that to run through with the boards.
Cutting boards before being planed down.
I make my cutting boards by using a variety of 1/8", 1/2", and 3/4" strips. That being said, the next step is set the table saw fence to 1/8" and run the boards through, creating as many strips as you desire. The same is done with the 1/2" and 3/4" strips. Next the boards are mitered to the length desired, and the strips are glued in whatever pattern is chosen. After the glue dries, the clamps are removed, and the boards are run through the planar to even them out. Next, the boards are mitered to even out the ends, and the edges are routed with a round-over bit.

The mineral oil and beeswax creates a smooth shine.

The finishing of the boards is perhaps the most important part of the process. For my boards, I sand them with 80, 120, and 220 grit sandpaper and then apply a 1:1 mixture of all natural beeswax and food-safe mineral oil. The wax is melted on the stove and the oil is added to it. Doing so not only provides a very smooth, finish and shiny luster, but also a sanitary and anti-bacterial finish. The beeswax fills the pores in the wood, and prevents moisture and bacteria from settling on the board. After vigorously rubbing the oil/wax mixture into the wood, I let the
The food-safe mineral oil I use.
Found at Walmart or Amazon.
boards sit for 10 minutes before wiping off the excess with a towel. And with that, the boards are finished! I don't put routed grooves in my boards because people have told me that they don't like when vegetable pieces among other things get caught in the groove as they slide the pieces off the board. I also don't put rubber feet on my boards so that they may be used for cutting on one side, and displayed on the other side.

Gumball Machine

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , , , , , | Posted On Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

It's almost Christmas and you know what that means...GIFTS! Not only does this mean receiving gifts, but if you're like me, it's the busiest time of year in the workshop. I'm not one of those people who cut Christmas gifts in September!

This pattern is perhaps the best one we've ever made, and I honestly believe that it is better than many of the purchasable patterns out there. This gumball machine pattern is perfect for a child or even an office desk! I cut mine out of two different woods to dress it up a bit. I used padouk to give it a nice color, and white oak to provide a lighter colored wood. Also, make this pattern your own! I made my lever pretty simple, but there are unlimited possibilities. Cut the person's name in the lever perhaps?

Currently we are working on making a pattern where the gumball will drop out and either spiral around the machine or fall through a series of platforms before landing at the bottom. Please add rings/levels, change the mechanism... whatever you want, and send in your pictures! We love to see the creativity!

A Bump in the Road

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , | Posted On Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM

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For the past six months, I've been out of the workshop. Yea I know...hard to imagine! On May 17th of this year, my garage caught fire, and unfortunately, I lost my entire workshop. Since then, I have worked with insurance to submit a list of every tool and screw I lost, so that I may replace them and have them covered. Now, as everyone tells you, be sure to take pictures of everything you have! I had thought about it and thought about it, but "never had time" for it. Well, the day came when I needed the pictures, and I didn't have them. Listing would have been much easier had I had them, but instead, I was forced to sort through more than a foot of ash and try to decipher what tools the molten pieces of plastic used to be.

View of my workbench and toolbox after the fire
So how did it start? Behind my workbench, there were only two outlets. On my workbench I had my drill press, sander, Dremel, and scroll saw plugged in. In order to accommodate all of the tools, I bought a heavy duty surge protector (encased in metal). And was a surge protector, not a power strip. The surge protector gave me 5 extra outlets, into which I plugged in my tools.With the two extra outlets, I switched out tools such as my dust collector, table saw, sander, planer, etc. With all of the tools being plugged into and unplugged from the two extra outlets, the prongs inside the surge protector began to weaken and bend inward. By bending inward, they began to arc across, generating heat. The surge protector then put more energy into insulating the "surge" and therefore generated more heat (not sure of the proper wording/explanation here, but you get the point). The result was a circular pattern of the surge protector overheating itself. Thus, the insides of the surge protector began melting. It then fell off of the wall to the ground and started the fire.

State fire marshal reviewing my
workbench for the cause of the fire
At 9 in the morning I walked through the garage before heading to the farm, and smelled something funny (I'll never forget the smell of an electrical fire now). I walked around and checked everything, even my surge protector. The light was still working on it, and the smell didn't seem any stronger around it, so I ignored it. I was in a hurry, so after checking everything twice, I took off. At about 10:30 a.m. I received a call that my house was on fire and I needed to come home immediately. By the time I got there, the garage was gone as well as a small part of the second story of the house. Later, I would be told by the state Fire Marshal that indeed the surge protector would appear to be working on the outside, even if the insides were completely melted.

I guess if you can take anything from this, please don't use surge protectors when you are plugging and unplugging often! They will wear out and have the potential of causing a fire, no matter how quality they are! They are generally fine when used with TV's and computers because once they are plugged in, the surge protector isn't touched. Although nobody reads the fine print, especially for surge protectors, it does actually say they are only meant for temporary use, up to 90 days. In that time, additional wiring should be added to the home/office (I know...ridiculous). Also, as mentioned before, please take pictures of all that you have. If not everything, at least photo the contents of your garage since that is where the vast majority of fires start. 

Upon rebuilding the garage, a total of 8 outlets on two different circuits were installed behind my workbench. I'm slowly getting all of my tools replaced and my workshop back in order. 

I only had one project survive the fire...and of course it was a cross I cut. Imagine that. 
God works in amazing ways.

Keychain Warning

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , | Posted On Monday, March 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Just a quick warning for everyone: make sure you do not use open grained wood for the 3D keychains. Yea, you are probably thinking "duh!", but it was a rookie mistake on my part! Open grained woods (especially oak, which I used) split easily. With the keychains being fragile, they break very easily if a very solid hardwood is not used. I have successfully done keychains in purpleheart, yellowheart, wenge, and even padouk although its a softwood. All have lasted a very long time and still haven't broken. I made one out of walnut which lasted a long time, but eventually busted out. After a visit to Keim Lumber in Charm, OH (which I still have to upload pictures of), I bought some small pieces of Bacote and Black & White Ebony ($$$), and made some keychains out of those. I bought a 3/4" x 3/4" pen blank in the B&W Ebony to use for the keychain, which turned out to work perfect. It is a beautiful wood with brilliant color and texture.
The keychain reading "Barb" is made of Bacote,
while the one reading "Johna" is made of B&W Ebony. 

The program used to design patterns for these 3D keychains was created by Steve Good. You can see our write up on how to make 3D keychains and download the program here.

Nativity Scene Intarsia

Posted by Jeremy Walls | Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted On Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Today I wanted to upload pictures of my intarsia Nativity scene. I made this back in early December, and used the patterns from Scroll Saw Woodworking and Crafts magazine. The patterns were given as ornaments for your Christmas tree, but I decided to use them to create my own scene. I made doubles of some animals (3 camels, 3 sheep) and made variants of the patterns as well (sitting sheep and camel). I designed my own stable and put a light inside, as well as a 2 layer base made from 3/4" aspen. Aspen is cheap, and because it won't be touched much, its softness won't be a problem. I flipped some of the patterns so that the animals could face both ways. For Christmas I received the Razertip SS-D10 pyrography system, so I burned in details on the Nativity set afterwards.

My Nativity just shows how patterns can be adjusted to fit your needs. There is no need to copy a pattern exactly. Edit it to make it your own! I encourage you to do that to my patterns as well! And when done, send pictures to me so I can show off your work and help inspire others to personalize their work!

Woods used in my Nativity:

To come: I'll try to post the patterns of the animals that I custom made soon. It's March, I know, but it doesn't hurt to start on a set now! And I'll have to post the patterns while I have access to them here at home (I'm currently on Spring Break). I never made an actual pattern for stable, but I'll post detailed pictures of it for you to look off of in creating your own version. I'll also try to post a review of my Razertip tool for the pyrographers out there, as well as a few beginner projects I did.


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