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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Decided to try my hand at making some charcuterie/cheese boards, and cutting boards. Something to do with the pile of ~2' boards I've had leaned up on the wall, and will probably never do anything with. Going to make a batch of different styles, shapes and sizes to give away and sell.

First attempt turned out well enough. The orange stripes are more orange than my poorly chosen orangish bar makes it appear. Forget what species, something I'd never heard of before, but the rest is ash. Going to try some with walnut and maple, if I can actually plane the maple without it chunking out all over the place (I hate working maple).

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First edge grain glue up. I'm finding these smaller projects a lot of fun. It's almost instant gratification. Now to go buy some more species with varied colors to make more interesting patterns. I can see I need to be more selective with my cuts and which pieces I use and which ones I set aside. A few of the walnut pieces had some questionable grain that chunked out in the planer. I also see a drum sander in my very near future...

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Two basic comments:

Some people avoid exotic woods for food contact due to potential toxicity or triggering allergies. Most toxicity and allergy issues are from woodworking; they are fairly rare for actual use of a finished product. Before you buy too much, look for toxicity comments in the wood database:
https://www.wood-database.com
https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

Someday I will own a drum sander, but they are expensive and take up space. In the meantime, if a cutting board is not "planer friendly", I get by flattening cutting boards using a random orbital sander and a straightedge.

The random orbital sander is not as fast as a planer or drum sander, but still takes less time than you might expect. Even hand sanding with a block is faster than most people realize, and you should do a couple quick finish passes by hand sanding along the grain anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I know about Rosewood being toxic to a select few people, but yeah, I didn't really think about some of the other exotics possibly being toxic or allergy inducing. Not going with anything too exotic, just the "common" exotics, if that's even a thing...

Yeah, space is my limiting factor and why I don't have some tools I want, but a drum sander is something I've wanted for a while. I'm all about time saving, especially on something as tiring and boring as sanding. I've gotten by for years just using hand planes and sanding for what feels like hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First one down. I'll keep it in my kitchen as a test piece to see how it holds up. I can see a few things to change on future ones. I also just noticed that I somehow accidentally used a piece of oak, instead of a piece of ash... I thought the lighter strips looked a little different. I guess I should pay closer attention when I'm ripping stock. The oak was THIRSTY for mineral oil, and even after a final sanding at 320 grit, I can feel little prickly fibers that catch on my rags on the oak strips. Wont be using that again. I do like the colors of it though, turned out pretty well for a first attempt, I'd say.

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As far as toxicity goes most of the exotic woods used in cutting boards are about the same or even less toxic than black walnut which is used by almost everyone that builds cutting boards.

I've been experimenting with several different wood species recently and the one that I dislike working with the most is wenge. That wood looks very nice but the sawdust that comes off of it is really fine and if you're not masked up it is extremely hard on the lungs. It is also difficult to sand evenly as the darker areas of that wood are much harder than the lighter areas. It also tends to "chip" out occasionally even when doing finishing sanding. I have a few pieces of wenge left, once it's gone I won't be using it again.

I'm also more careful now when I work with black walnut. The first time I milled walnut logs I didn't realize how bad the sap was. After milling two logs my hands were stained black and it took almost two months for them to get back to their normal color. I accidentally left a kiln dried piece of black walnut on my table saw top for two days along with a few other pieces of exotic wood (wenge, bloodwood & purpleheart). The exotic woods did no damage to the top but the piece of walnut ate through my wax layer and started to rust the top after sitting on it for just 2 days. When working on a walnut display case last year I didn't notice all the walnut dust that had accumulated on top of my dust collector. When I cleaned that off a few weeks later the walnut dust had actually eaten through some of the paint and noticeably dulled the top of my machine.

I don't wear masks often while woodworking but I definitely pull out my mask whenever I work with black walnut or wenge and I doubt that I'll use either of those woods in any future cutting boards.
 

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David
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When I cleaned that off a few weeks later the walnut dust had actually eaten through some of the paint and noticeably dulled the top of my machine.
Where are you getting your Walnut - Chernobyl? I have worked almost exclusively with Walnut over the last 4 years or so - probably about 1,000 BF - and have never had any of the problems you mentioned.
 

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Where are you getting your Walnut - Chernobyl? I have worked almost exclusively with Walnut over the last 4 years or so - probably about 1,000 BF - and have never had any of the problems you mentioned.
All the black walnut I've ever worked with was cut and milled right here in south eastern Wisconsin. When I milled my first walnut logs I was surprised at how toxic the sap was but after talking to a few other local sawyers they told me my experience was very common. Maybe there's something special in the soil around here that makes the black walnut toxen juglone a bit more toxic than normal.

There's no doubt that black walnut is toxic. Apart form black locust I think it's one of the most toxic domestic species. The juglone toxin is present throughout the tree, leaves and nuts. It is most concentrated in the roots and can kill most plants within a certain radius of the tree. Black walnut shavings are known to make horses sick and can make people sick as well depending on how they react to it.

I thought that once walnut had been dried, especially if they were kiln dried, that it would no longer be a problem but after seeing what it did to my table saw top last year I am more careful with it. The accidental experiment I conducted last year turned out to be pretty interesting. All of the lumber that I left on my saw top had just been planed and jointed. When I pulled the 5 boards off of the saw top the table was completely fine apart from a perfectly stained rectangular section that was under the piece of black walnut. That moisture content of that piece of black walnut was 7% at the time.

Don't take my comment on walnut affecting my equipment paint the wrong way. It definitely didn't eat all the way through the paint but it did take all of the shine off of that piece of equipment. At the time that happened I was working with only walnut and poplar so the dark sawdust on top of that piece of equipment was definitely walnut.

I still have a good stock pile of black walnut and will continue to use it. I just won't let it sit on any metal surfaces for any length of time and I'll definitely be wearing a mask whenever I cut it.
 

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When I am done, I always clean my table saw with a duster brush or shop vac, take the fence off, put a hardboard cover on it, then put the fence back on the hardboard. The hardboard is light. It takes seconds. I cut a slit in it so I can leave the blade guard attached or leave the blade height set. When I am not using the table saw, I use the covered top as a work surface.

I bought it because the top surface is water resistant. The only drawback is that the underside is hard and slick like the top of brown hardboard, not fibrous and soft like the bottom of brown hardboard. See:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/202088784

I tested it by putting beads of water on a cutoff scrap overnight. The water beads stayed on top and did not soak in. I use coasters anyway, but the test shows that a soda can, wood pieces, or other moisture sources won't get through to the saw table.

Yes, I wax the saw table periodically, too. ... and yes, it was less expensive when I bought it a few years ago (around $13).
 

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Black walnut shavings are known to make horses sick and can make people sick as well depending on how they react to it.
I'm aware of that but have never had any other issues with Walnut. I buy unsteamed from a local sawmill and steamed from a couple of hardwood suppliers.
 

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I'm aware of that but have never had any other issues with Walnut. I buy unsteamed from a local sawmill and steamed from a couple of hardwood suppliers.
Most of the black walnut I use is stuff I cut and milled myself. I took down a large walnut tree for a friend back in 2008 and picked up a couple of very large walnut trunks from a local business park that was clearing out some trees that same year. I milled that black walnut over 12 years ago and I cut almost all of it all to 5/4. Whenever I need anything thicker than that I get it from a local mill which kiln dries it (I couldn't tell you if it's steamed or not).

The walnut that left a stain on my table was kiln dried from my local mill but the majority of the walnut I was cutting at that time was from my own stock that has only been air dried. That stain did clean up pretty easily...it didn't do any long-term damage.
 

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Unsteamed the sapwood is very white-cream and definitely stands out against the heartwood. Steamed blends (bleeds) the heartwood into the sapwood and makes more of the board 'usable'. I prefer unsteamed because I like the contrast with the sapwood for most projects and the heartwood has greater depth, chatoyance, and is generally richer looking. To me the steamed looks muddy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And then there were four...
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Curly maple sure does look nice, but I don't know if I'm going to use it anymore. I've never worked with maple and not had nightmares about it. I like the way these three turned out, but two of them have a little twist. I'll probably have to go at the opposite corners on the bottom with a hand plane to knock it down level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
And then there were... 12... Trying to use up this 8/4 stock. Have enough for another 4 or 5 boards, but I'm done for the weekend. This is the last batch. I'm getting a little better and a little faster with every one. Just need to build my juice groove jig now, and I'm set.

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