Straight Line Ripping in a Small Shop
“Straight lining” a board is when you create a straight edge along the length of a board, similar to what is done on a jointer. So, why not use a jointer? A few reasons. First, because a jointer is only as good as the length of its tables. Even though I have a long bed jointer with a total length of 6’, it’s still too short to get the truly straight edge that is required for joining boards together. Second, ripping the edge instead of jointing is much faster and easier. You can rip it in one pass whereas it may take several passes on the jointer. This is especially true when you have a 9’ board with a major crook.
Straight line ripping is something that is usually only done in large wood shops with specialized rip saws to perform the task. It doesn’t have to be a task relegated just to the big shops. I’ve developed a method for doing it in my small garage shop on my table saw.
Here’s my method for straight line ripping on the table saw. I start by flattening and planing the boards. This will ensure that the ripped edge will come out square to the face. (I have methods for flattening long boards as well, that’s another blog though.) Next, I set up the saw with plenty of infeed and outfeed support and of course, have a ripping blade installed.
Then I put the crooked board on the jig. The jig is just a piece of MDF with parallel straight edges and some toggle clamps to hold the board. I put the board on the jig with the crook facing out (away from the fence,) and clamp it so that there’s a little bit overhanging the jig at both ends. I set the rip fence to the width of the jig or just wider then make the cut with the jig riding along the fence. The edge of the board is cut parallel with the straight edge of the jig. I then use the new edge to rip the opposite edge parallel to it and it’s ready to go into a glue up.
Over the past few years of working and learning in my shop, this skill has proved pivotal to my work. This process is essential for gluing up table tops and counter tops which I’m often commissioned to make. To see some past examples of my work check out the “Custom Woodworking” section of my website. To keep up to date on the newest projects, like me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter.
New end grain butcher blocks are quite thirsty and require many coats of food grade mineral oil in the first few weeks of use. Your new end grain butcher block should be oiled 2 or 3 times before using it for the first time. Continue oiling your board every day for the first two weeks of use. The idea is to get the board saturated with oil to prevent it from absorbing water. Once the board is saturated, then it will require oiling only once a month.
Oiling your butcher block only takes a few minutes and is an important step in ensuring that it will last a lifetime. Butcher block oil is available directly from Emerson Pringle Carpentry and can be found here.
Here’s how to apply the oil:
- Drizzle a generous amount of mineral oil onto the face of the board and spread it around with a paper towel. You will notice the oil being sucked into the wood fibers. Add more oil to ensure the entire face has been “wetted.”
- Turn the board over and repeat step 1 for the other face.
- Use the excess oil on your towel to wipe the sides and edges. They will not absorb as much oil as the end grain faces but make sure they get some.
- Allow the board to absorb the mineral oil for a few hours between coats or before using.
Feel free to call or email with any questions.
Clean and dry your cutting board after every use. When not in use, allow the board to be open to the air by standing it on its edge. Do not submerge it in water or machine wash.
How to Clean
- Rinse with clean running water
- Wash with hot soapy water
- Dry thoroughly immediately after washing
Season and protect your cutting board at least once a month. Use food grade mineral oil and/or beeswax polish which is available at www.emersonpringle.com. New butcher blocks are quite thirsty and will require more oil in the first few weeks of use.
How to Season and Protect
- Rub mineral oil into board with paper towel
- Allow oil to soak in, then wipe off the excess
Sanitize your board on a regular basis and always after cutting meat or fish. Use full strength white vinegar. Keep it in a spray bottle for convenience.
How to Sanitize and Remove Odours
- Wipe with pure white vinegar to kill bacteria
- Slice a lemon in half and rub into board to help remove strong odours
- Use both sides of end grain butcher blocks
- Allow air flow under large butcher blocks by propping it up on small rubber pads
- Use beeswax polish on your wood salad bowls and tongs as well as your boards
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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