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Making Patterns to fill downtime – basketweave chopping boards part 1

tile basketweave and pattern on graph paper

tile basketweave and pattern on graph paper

very small poplar basketweave chopping board

first Maple and Cherry Basketweave chopping board

There is plenty of downtime in a small shop for any one project – it takes time for things to dry. I like to have a small job to work on at the same time as my main job – something that can be set aside often, then continued later. Since it can be weeks between bouts, something small or simple make sense.
I love patterns. I’ve tried to incorporate them in my woodworking for a long time. We had some tile work done this year, and chose a basket weave pattern for a decorative floor inlay. It looked great. This inspired me to figure out how to make it in wood.
I used squared paper to draw the pattern from the tile. If the black tile “hole” is one square, the white blocks are two squares wide and 4 squares. That pattern repeats everywhere except at the edges, where a partial pieces are required. Those pieces are the width of the blocks, but the length of the holes.
Armed with this knowledge and my dial calipers, I headed to the shop. My objective was to use some maple and cherry shorts for the blocks and holes respectively. I could make a chopping board. I like to make them end grain up – it’s better for the knives and there is a design opportunity with the wood grain.
First I made a test board. I had much poplar scrap from trimming out several rooms. It was ¾” thick, and seemed a good block width. So the block length was then 1 ½”, and the hole size was 3/8” square. I cut these quite precisely on the table saw then ran them through the planer to get thicknesses to within 5 thou. Small errors accumulate and make gaps, bad for chopping boards.
It worked out really well, though low contrast. I then made the maple and cherry board. It worked out very well, though the pieces were too small for the size of the board. Too many pieces at glue-up time, which is exciting. Glue-ups should never be exciting. The next one would have bigger pieces!

Heller & Heller

Custom Furniture

Serving Virginia and Beyond

Heller & Heller

Custom Furniture

Serving Virginia & Beyond