Our new range of luxury serving boards are made from American Black Walnut, Canadian Maple, and Padauk, a sustainably managed tropical hardwood from Cameroon and other parts of West Africa. They are produced in very small quantities and are intended to be as beautiful as they are functional. Each board is made up of more than 40 individual strips of wood, and then shaped into teardrops, violins, mandolins, guitars, and more. As they are edge-grain boards, they will show up knife marks more than end-grain boards, and for this reason, some people prefer not to use them as traditional chopping boards, although of course they can be used this way and a little maintenance from time to time will rejuvenate them. Most people prefer to use them as charcuterie boards, or simply hang them up as wall art! All woods will change colour over time, a process that is accelerated if exposed to UV light. The padauk, in particular, will darken; some people prefer the deeper tones the wood develops with age.
Engraving is possible on these boards, but the legibility of the text may be affected by the striped design. Please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss engraving options.
Teardrop: 450 (h) x 300 (w) x 30 (d)
Gibson 335: 460 (h) x 320 (w) x 30 (d)
Les Paul: 485 (h) x 295 (w) x 30 (d)
Fender Strat: 450 (h) x 300 (w) x 30 (d)
Mandolin: 390 (h) x 250 (w) x 30 (d)
Violin: 410 (h) x 200 (w) x 30 (d)
Each luxury board begins life as six large, rough-sawn planks of maple, walnut, and padauk, each about 2.4 metres long, 200mm wide and as much as 50mm thick. These boards are sawn in half and then individually milled – a process of gradually taking them from a rough to a smooth state, and sawing them down into individual 8mm strips. The milling process must be carried out in two stages, allowing the wood time to adjust as fresh wood is exposed to the air. Newly milled wood will try to reach equilibrium with the humidity in its environment, either expelling or absorbing moisture to do so. Boards that are perfectly flat and square in the evening can be wavy and twisted by morning.
Once the strips have been prepared, they are individually sanded in preparation for gluing. The padauk must also be cleaned with mineral spirits to remove excess natural oils that have migrated to the surface and can prevent a strong glue joint. Depending on the final dimensions of the board, 40-50 strips are glued together with a litre of Titebond III, a PVA glue that is both waterproof and food-safe when cured. To prevent the strips from bowing under tension while the glue cures, they are placed in our own workshop-made panel clamps which exert both lateral and vertical pressure.
After 24 hours in the clamps, the cured excess glue ‘squeeze-out’ is removed with a scraper and handplanes, and the board is then planed and brought to its final thickness. The final shape of the board is drawn at a 35-degree angle to the horizontal strips in software that generates a toolpath of the shape and sends it to the CNC (computer numerical control) machine for routing. The machine cuts out the profile in 11 steps, removing 3mm of material in each pass; the rough shape can then be removed from the CNC bed. After applying a roundover profile to the edges at the router table, the board is then sanded with increasingly fine grits of abrasive paper, starting with 80 grit, and progressing through 120, 180, 240, and finally 400, cleaning between each stage.
At this point it is essential to ‘raise the grain’ of the board before applying finish. The fibres on the top of the board have been flattened by the sanding process and will tend to stand upright again the first time they encounter water, leaving a rough surface. To avoid this, the board is sprayed with water, left to dry, and then sanded again at 400 grit to remove the last of those fibres. After being thoroughly vacuum cleaned, the board is then submerged in a bath of mineral oil for an hour, turned over, and left for a further hour. It is then removed and left to air-dry for 12-14 hours. The final step is to apply a generous amount of our own Board Balm, a food-safe blend of mineral oil and beeswax. After the mineral oil has been absorbed, the beeswax is buffed into the surface, leaving a smooth and flat board, ready for many years of service.
Caring for Your Luxury Serving Board
Luxury boards should never be placed in a dishwasher and should only require cleaning with a damp cloth. They can be quickly cleaned under a running tap but should be dried with a towel straight away or left to air dry in a vertical position. Repeated contact with water will eventually dry them out, especially in the middle where they receive most use. An occasional application of our Board Balm will nourish and revive them. A light sanding with 120 and 180 grit paper prior to this will remove any knife marks.
I hope you enjoy your new board and thank you for supporting our small family business. Happy chopping!