Canadian Woodworking

Charcuterie board gift and planer cart update

Blog by Rob Brown
Charcuterie board

A good friend of mine enjoys cooking and hosting dinners. His birthday was coming up, so I decided a charcuterie board would make a good gift.

A good friend of mine enjoys cooking and hosting dinners. His birthday was coming up, so I decided a charcuterie board would make a good gift. He’s also a paddler, and spends a lot of time canoeing the lakes and rivers of Ontario and beyond, so when I came across a medium-sized piece of curly cherry in my scrap pile I figured that was a good place to start. Cherry is often used for canoe paddles, and the figure in it reminded me of the waves on open water.

Charcuterie board gift

The grain on the face of this board was a bit on the wild side, and I often prefer the overall design of a piece to be the most prominent visual and keep the grain simple whenever possible. When I’ve made boards like this in the past I’ve ripped strips out of the board, rotated each 90° and glued them back together. This forms a very straight, uniform grain pattern and allows the design of the piece to shine through. The curls on the edge of this piece of curly cherry are still visible, so I wasn’t going to waste them with this lamination technique.

I ripped strips to just over 1″ wide, rotated them, then realized the grain in this piece of wood lost something. It was nice, but the original flat sawn orientation was a bit more powerful and more appropriate for this specific project. But how could I glue them back together and have the finished board not look like a mistake?

Remembering my friend is an avid boater, and that many classic wooden boats are made of wider strips of a darker wood (usually mahogany) separated by thin strips of light-coloured material, I opted to use this approach here. Although he’s not a power boat kinda guy, I was hoping the look would carry over.

Strips of maple veneer were cut and adhered to one face of every strip of cherry, except one of the outside pieces. When dry, they were trimmed on the table saw and glued together with the edges of the maple layers showing. The maple almost looked like pinstripes. I let the board dry, dressed it to thickness, drew an arc on both ends, cut it on a 15° angle and sanded the surfaces. When I applied a finish, the grain and colour popped nicely. After drilling holes for small rubber bumpers in the four corners on the underside of the board, it was ready for wrapping.

The grain on the finished face not only looks like a river, but also looks like the elevation lines on a topography map. Both of these things are very much in keeping with my friend’s love of the waterways he’s spent so much time on. Now he’ll be ready for some hosting. Hopefully, COVID will allow that sooner than later.

This project also made me think back to my blog last week, where I mentioned I rarely make mistakes that are “just happy accidents.” This might actually be one of those rare cases. I think the maple strips are attractive, and even have a certain “wooden boat” look to them, which my friend really liked.

Trimming Veneer

Once the layers of veneer were glued to the strips of cherry, I aligned a sacrificial fence on my rip fence to trim the veneer flush with the cherry strips. I could have laminated the entire board up at once — veneer and strips — but the board I had was only 1″ thick and I wanted to ensure the strips were glued up as flush with each other as possible so only minimal thickness would need to be removed to smooth both faces. Clamps and cauls would keep the strips aligned while they were being glued up, and the wider veneer would not only get in the way, but if I machined the veneer to the same width as the solid, I thought it might buckle under clamping force during glue-up.

Planer cart update

I received a lot of comments on my “Saving scraps: a rare success story” blog posted on Nov. 12. One comment was about the height of my planer’s outfeed surface, wondering why I didn’t design the cart so it was the same height as my table saw so it could act as a good outfeed surface.

My first design called for that, but when I thought about actually using the planer to dress lumber, and I went through the motions pretending I was planing a board, I realized it would be easier if there was a gap of at least a few inches between my table saw’s surface and the underside of the board being dressed. This height difference provided a gap for me to reach underneath the board and grasp it so I could return it towards myself.

The standard approach is to have outfeed surfaces at the same height, and that often works well. But this wasn’t one of those times. When you’re designing something, whether it’s a shop fixture or a piece of furniture, always do your best to anticipate how the item will be used and how people will interact with it, and then design it accordingly. A project can look great, but if it’s not designed so someone can interact with it easily and properly, frustration will ensue.

Ready for Action

The finished board, ready for a big party.

Charcuterie board

Bevelled Ends

Because the table on my bandsaw has a medium-sized outfeed table that needs to be removed if I want to set it at an angle, I used my scroll saw to bevel the two curved ends to 15°.

Bevelled Ends

Not the Typical Approach

You often hear advice to make sure many of your work surfaces are the same height, so you always have an outfeed surface at the perfect height, no matter what machine you’re using. Although this is often good advice, I took a slightly different approach for my planer cart. I made it higher than its outfeed table (my table saw) so I could easily grasp the freshly planed boards as they exit the far end of the planer. A simple block, or sometimes even the rip fence, acts as a support if needed.

planer cart height
Last modified: July 18, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


  1. Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Username: Password: