Jul 252004

So it turns out that it’s really expensive to make enough cutting boards to cover all of my kitchen counters. I found some nice plans for butcher block cutting boards on Lowe’s web site (via a Google search, of course). So I figure, I’m never comfortable cutting anything on my counters, since they’re too low. Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) has custom-made counters in his house, but I don’t have the luxury of being able to remodel my kitchen. So I whipped out the ol’ tape measure to see what I can find.

I did some quick tests; I have a 3-quart saucepan that is 3 1/2″ tall. I balanced a cutting board on it, and felt a lot more comfortable using a knife on that elevated surface. Which is handy, since a 1×4 is 3 1/2″ wide (it’s a lumber thing). So I figure . . . my counters are about 23″ deep. That’s a good start; I’ll see how many laminate layers of 1×4 I’ll need to put together to make it to 23″. Turns out, that at 3/4″ tall, it’ll take 31 layers of 1×4 to make this cutting board. But of course, I don’t want to stop there. I have just shy of 8 feet of counters (measured left-to-right, and added together); it’s actually 94 inches’ worth (leaving about a quarter-inch between the sides & the walls/sink/oven). This is good, since 1×4’s come in these really handy 8′ lengths.

So I’m adding up… 31 pieces of 1x4x8 lumber. Now, I can’t use pine, because it’s got all that nice resin to leak out of the wood and into whatever I’m cooking. That’s bad, since pine resin tastes really bad. So I need to use a fruit- or nut-bearing wood. The Home Depot next(ish) to my apartment has maple and oak. They’re both a bit more expensive than I’d like; the maple was slightly less at about $13.90 per 8′ length of 1×4. That’s over $400 before tax and glue.

Add on the fact that I don’t actually have any woodworking tools, and it means I’ll either need to convince my parents to let me use their garage (and power tools) for a weekend, or I’ll need to buy a mitre box and saw. I’m hoping for the first, since it’s a lot less expensive.

Maybe I’ll just do one, to see how it turns out. I can probably do that for about $125, since there’s 4 23″ pieces in a single 8-foot board. It’s slightly more than just buying a John Boos cutting board, but this way I get the exact size I want.

Update: The Joy of Cooking is 2 1/2″ tall, and that’s actually even more comfortable than 3 1/2″. So I can make do with 1×3’s instead; that means I can do a 21″x24″ board for about 40 bucks. That’s not too bad.

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