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Every couple of years, I batch out a pile of end-grain cutting boards. This year, I ended up with 12 of the more involved patterns (basket weave and running-bond bricks) made from walnut and maple and 10 of the less dramatically patterened cherry boards.
These are incredibly popular gifts and will last a lifetime (I have been using one daily for about 7 years and it looks almost like the day I made it). The end-grain orientation is more difficult to produce, but it results in a board that barely shows any cut marks from usage. Since the knife blade slides between the ends of the wood fibers, they just close back up when the blade is removed. The fibers of a face-grained board, on the other hand, are severed by the blade and will look terrible with just a small amount of usage.
I personally prefer a more subtle finish – a simple oil or oil and wax mix – that leaves wood feeling like, well, wood. I really like how this piece turned out though. Finished with a water-borne poly, it doesn’t have the plasticy feel that I dislike in film-based finishes.
It’s black cherry that fell over in a neighbor’s yard during a storm. Although this was a piece from where the trunk split into two smaller branches, there wasn’t the typical feathery pattern that comes from that area so I left a little bit of the bark on the outside for extra interest.
I did as much research as I could to try and date the base. Unfortunately, it’s not really possible without having the original sewing machine. The best I could do was to put it between 1906 and 1913, when the White company was making this style of bases in Cleveland, Ohio.
The lumber from the top came from a local reclaimed lumber business. These cherry boards came out of a barn that was built in Kentucky around 1925. It’s hard to believe they used cherry in a barn, but it was likely a tree that just happened to be growing right next to where they planned to build. As someone that comes from a long line of farmers, I understand using the materials that you’ve got available.
The treadle still turns the flywheel that penetrates the table top, which is about 18″ tall and three feet by two feet. It’s finished in a satin polyurethane and then polished with paste wax.
Generally, I like to start by cutting a blank out round on my hand made wooden bandsaw but this piece was just too big to fit. Instead, I knocked the corners off with the chainsaw. Still, at 16″ in diameter by 12″ tall, this beast felt like it weighed 50 or 60 pounds.
After getting the outside round, the pile of shavings is ankle deep.
This log had just a tiny bit of ring shake to it, and I thought I had cut it all out with the chainsaw. There was still a weak spot that I managed to find.
It’s probably fortunate that I lost the rim and ended up making this vessel a little shallower than originally planned. My curved tool rest was too short to get to the bottom of the bowl, and I had a lot of tool chatter that had to be sanded out.
This vessel will need some time to dry since the wood was very green. It will warp as it looses moisture, but I enjoy the character that adds.
This great, big beast finished out at 15″ diameter by 9″ tall. The cherry (Prunus serotina) blank started out at around 50 or 60 pounds and was a real bear to turn. Although it is not quite dry – it will continue to warp slightly as it looses moisture – I’ve finished it with a food safe blend of mineral oil, orange oil, and beeswax.
Interested in seeing the process on turning this vessel? Well, here it is.