Yes, they’re handmade! And this is how you know.
Routing juice grooves in a butcher block is an easy task for a CNC router, but you’ll find no automation in my shop. I start by making a template, setting up each board individually and pushing that router by hand. This can be a tedious task, but I’ve learned a few things over the years which make the job go smoothly. Here’s a look at my current set up.
A big router is required. I’ve recently upgraded to a 3 1/4HP Triton router, it’s a beautiful thing deserving its own blog post. The important features that are helpful for performing this task are the power, dust collection and depth stops. Hogging out a deep groove in hard maple produces a lot of chips, so having the dust collection attached to the tool is really helpful. The depth stops allow me to make the grooves in all the boards the same size. Even with all that power, I still do two or three passes to ensure quality of the cut.
The template that I use is actually just a set of “walls” that are spaced out from the side of the block. I find this set up to be more versatile than making a plywood template. The walls are clamped to the side of the board so that the groove is an equal distance from the edge of the board all the way around. I can use this set of walls for any size butcher block with only a little adjustment. The finger grooves in the sides of the boards are made in a similar fashion. I use the fence on the router base and clamp two stops at either end of the board. I set up the butcher block so that its side is flush with the top of my workbench to provide extra support for the router.
And it’s as simple as that. No automation required, just elbow grease.
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