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Blood Grove for Meat Cutting Board

Tucson's picture

I'm making a meat cutting board from a mesquite plank with unfinished edges (edges have contour of tree trunk). How do I route a drip groove (to prevent meat juices from dripping off the cutting board) so that the groove maintains a constant distance from the edge of the board? Alternatively, I would be willing to use a rounded corner square pattern for the goove. In that case, how do a get straight line gooves, and nicely rounded corners?

MBerger's picture

(post #125511, reply #1 of 6)

The first idea that comes to mind is to cut the groove with a router and a bearing-guided round-nose router bit (I surfed google and found one by Amana). You will guide the router with a shopmade template.

To make the template, trace the shape of the cutting board on a piece of MDF. Then carefully draw a matching shape inside the traced line that is set in equally all around. This distance will determine how far the groove is set in from the edge. To draw the interior line, you could use a compass or some other improvised marking gauge.

Then cut out the area inside your interior line by drilling a few holes and cutting as carefully as you can to the line with a jig saw or scroll saw. Next, smooth the interior edge with files, rasps, a sanding block, or an oscillating spindle sander if you have one. Make sure you are completely satisified with the inside surface because this shape will be transfered to the workpiece exactly as you make it, all tiny bumps and dips included. It would be a good idea to test the template on scrap before cutting into your precious wood.

Next, place the template on top of the cutting board and clamp the two securely to your worksurface. Then, set the router bit so that the bearing rides along the inside edge of your template and cut away.

If you don't want to go through the effort of making the shapely template, you can simply cut a square opening and follow the same instructions as described above. The bearing won't be able to make the sharp corners which will leave you with slightly round corners.

I might have made that sound more complicated than it is so feel free to ask follow up questions until it's clear.

Matt Berger
Fine Woodworking

Tucson's picture

(post #125511, reply #2 of 6)

Thanks, Matt. Just after I sent my email to you, I looked through the FW files, and found an article in the Mar/Ap 2006 issue on Cutting Boards. I think that author, Tim Albers, makes a suggestion similar to yours. But I have a couple questions:

1. Albers seems to use an outside template that is the same size as the cutting board. Is this a mistake -- would'nt the groove end up on the edge of the board? Your way, with the groove template smaller than the cutting board, seems correct. Am I missing something?

2.You suggest a bearing-guided round nosed router bit. I presume the bit is a top bearing one, rather than the bearing at the bottom of the bit. Right?

3. In the Albers article (figures on first page of article), he mentions a router outfitted with a template guide. What is a template guide, and how does it come into play cutting the groove.

Again, many thanks!

MBerger's picture

(post #125511, reply #3 of 6)

Hi Tucson,

I forgot about that article. Well, it's good to know that his technique matched mine. Hope this helps:

1. As you describe it, you are correct, it would cut the groove on the edge. But I think the article is missing a few steps which makes it a bit confusing. I'm pretty sure that his juice-groove router template is not derived from the original cutting board template. Rather, he proably cut down his original template to the inset marked line (see photo), and then made the router template based on the smaller dimensions.

2. The bearing is on the shaft not the tip (I can never remember what's top and what's bottom), that way it cuts the material below and rides along the template above.

3. A template guide, also known as a collet, is a router accessory that you would use to cut to a template if you didn't have a bearing guided bit. It is essentially a metal sleeve that attaches to the router base around the top of the router bit and rides along the template. The only problem with these is that you have to account for the off-set created by the collet material when you make your template. If the collet is 1/4 in. thick then the template needs to be 1/4 in. larger all around. I prefer bearing-guided bits.

Tucson's picture

(post #125511, reply #4 of 6)

Thanks, again, Matt.
What great answers! Much appreciated!


DrDeebs's picture

Blood Groove on Meat Cutting Board (post #125511, reply #5 of 6)

Hi there,

Just thought i'd add my 'two cents worth' if that's OK.

I've tried all the online methods and i am quite appreciative for the FWW articles and comments noted.  I've tried it all: bowl router bits, inside/outside templates, edge guides, bushing template guides, bits with bearings, and more.....mostly with success....but evey now and then the router chews itself away from the template and 'ruins' a gorgeous cutting board that i've spent days preparing.  It is especially hard to keep things perfect when working with end-grain cutting boards made from hard woods like purple heart, rock maple and walnut.  My heart throbs when a perfect, channel-less board gets ruined by a wandering router bit/technique.

I haven't read any articles/blogs that remind us about the Festool routers and track system.  I just tried my Festool OF 1400 EQ router using the track system setting up one channel at a time, and voila:  perfection, first time, no mistakes, EASY! No wandering.  No burning. No irregular edges.  Just had to be careful/slow/deliberate at the corners for them to match up perfectly.

For those of us/you who are building up Festool equipment and the luxury's that come with them, this is a great and easy way to make foolproof juice channels with no wastage/mistakes/frustration!

I used a Freud 3/8" round nose bit without bearings and set the plunge for either 1/4" or 3/8" depending on the size/thickness of the board.  Of course, the track system, held in place on the cutting board and bench with Festool clamps, does all the guiding and prevents wandering in any direction.  Thanks Festool, yet again.

And thanks to FWW.....

Hope this helps.  Feel free to email if any questions.


leminhtien's picture

Download over 16,000 (post #125511, reply #6 of 6)

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