Today I generated a cheese board in the shape of Kentucky.
Creating the Template:
I started by making a template that would allow me to make duplicates using a flush trim bit and a pattern bit on my router table. My first limitation that I knew I would have was that my pattern bits were all 1/2″ or larger. Now, Kentucky has a lot of jagged edges… So, I had to smooth those out a bit so that the bits could flow along the pattern. Still, you don’t want the board to have a whole lot of sharp, jagged edges on it anyway…
I printed off a detailed outline of Kentucky to the size I wanted my template to be. I then adhered the template to a piece of MDF with spray adhesive.
Then I proceded to rough cut near the lines with my bandsaw. I wanted to get as close as possible to the lines without actually touching them.
After that I moved on to my oscillating spindle sander. Because I knew I would be using 1/2″ template router bits, I put in a 1/2″ sanding drum in. I then started to shape the template to keep as much detail as I could while still allowing for the router bit to do all the cutting when following this template later.
Now the template is ready to be used to re-create the same KY shape as many times as I want.
Preparing the board:
I chose to stick with all Kentucky grown woods for this cheese board. I gathered a beautiful piece of Spalted Ash, some Maple, and some Walnut. All of my boards were rough cut, so first, I rough cut them to length. Then milled them flat on one side and made one square side with the jointer.
Then proceeded to flatten the other side parallel using the planer and cut other square widths to have all of my boards prepped.
Once I had square lumber the size I wanted, I was ready for glue-up. So, In the clamps they go. And then we wait…
Once out of the clamps, I smoothed out each side with the drum sander.
Using the Template:
With the board flat, I attached the newly created template using some double sided carpet tape.
I then trimmed most of the wood off close to the template with the bandsaw.
Now off to the router table with a pattern bit with a top bearing. I only trimmed the edges following with the grain along the direction of the rotation of the router bit.
I then switched to a bottom bearing pattern bit and flipped the board and pattern over so I could cut the opposite direction and still be cutting along the grain direction. By doing this, it avoids most of the tear-out.
Once I cut the board down to match the pattern, I separated the pattern. Then changed the bit in the router to a chamfer bit to give a nice edge to the board.
I then moved on to sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. For all of my cutting boards and cheese boards, I run through the following grits: 80, 120, 180, 220, 320. Then I spray the board with water to raise the grain and let it dry and sand again with 320 and then 400. I know it’s a bit excessive, but it is a finish that everyone tends to appreciate.
The best part is then applying a finish. For this board, I used Mineral Oil. It sure made the curly maple pop and the spalted ash look amazing.