NEW! Faster Search Option


Inlaid - or other design ideas - for an endgrain chopping board

Mervyn's picture

I have made my brother a few endgrain chopping boards and his daughter really liked them. This same daughter just got married - and I promised her an endgrain board. (The board would be used for cutting bread only so would not get wet.) But I wanted something special.

Turns out that she and her husband designed a monogram for their wedding, made up of a few hebrew letters as shown in the picture. (Ignore the checkered background - its just the letters.)

I would like to set this pattern into an end grain board. Any ideas? It seems too complex to make separate laminations of different colors and glue them back together so that the pattern comes together (as you would do for a chess board or other more geometric design.)

I've thought about using a router using a template - will that work out OK in this situation because I'll be routing into end grain?

Any other ideas of how to do this? 


Thanks for your thoughts.





RalphBarker's picture

Inlay vs. other options (post #170651, reply #1 of 4)

It seems to me, Mervyn, that doing an inlay is inviting problems of differences in expansion/contraction coefficients - particularly if the large inlay characters are face-grain oriented vs. the end-grain of the board.

Another option might be to do a mosaic pattern using much smaller pieces of a different colored wood species. But, different expansion/contraction coefficient would still be an issue, potentially causing the endire board to fail.

You might consider simply routing the characters into the bottom side of the board, perhaps 1/8" deep. You could make the "bottom side" obvious by adding rubber feet on that side of the board.

Mervyn's picture

Ralph - thanks for the (post #170651, reply #2 of 4)

Ralph - thanks for the ideas.

I had thought that since I've made numerous boards before with different woods and they have been stable, that the inlay should be OK. But given your comment, it is a concern because there would be a concentration of a couple of species in some areas as opposed to a more balanced geometric (or other) design.

I like your idea of just routing the pattern and not inlaying anything. that sounds like it may work very well. I'm not a great fan of staining wood, but it would be great if the inlaid part could perhaps be made a darker color to highlight it. I've learnt the hard way with these end grain boards that they are incredibly porous . ..  use a sharpie to make marks on the end grain, and you may have to take an 1/8th of an inch off before you get the sharpie out. Hey, there's an idea - pour the stain in the routed part, and it may run all the way through.  i could get the pattern to show through the other side that way too   :)  That would look bad!

'll take some scrap end grain piece and test out if a very light stain application would get a good looking result. Thanks for the post!



RalphBarker's picture

I take it . . . (post #170651, reply #3 of 4)

 . . . that glueing up a board out of 1/8" x 1/8" (or smaller) pieces for the mosaic approach wasn't appealing?  ;-)

Triton21's picture

Liquid inlay material (post #170651, reply #4 of 4)

   I thought this might be an attractive alternative for you. This is an epoxy material that is used to create designs in solid surface materials such as Corian. You can get it in any color you want. Mix it up, pour it in and sand it down flush after it cures. It's a little pricey, but if you just rout out the perimeters of the design, you wouldn't need near as much material. A couple of quick tips - to eliminate air bubbles, it helps to vibrate the workpiece while pouring the inlay material in. I've always used an old "jitterbug" type sander (without the sandpaper), held against the bottom of the workpiece. Also, a flat bottomed groove will allow air bubbles to form much easier than a rounded bottom, so I recommend using a core box or round nosed bit.