Green Tractor Talk banner
1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have lots of maple logs and decided I want to build my own cutting board. Not some skimpy little thing sold at stores. I want something to carve a brisket or rib roast and hold all the cuttings and juices. I have some maple logs (big leaf and another one that’s straighter) that are up to 24” thick.
780377

I’m starting to think about how I’m going to go through the steps of milling and cutting a piece big enough to my liking and have something to last years.

So I started a little planning and watched a couple videos on cheap chainsaw mills and ordered one of these
780378


Seems simple enough to do and I’m not looking for perfection as this will be just a block of wood essentially and I can perfect it with a lot of sanding. I have a chainsaw with a 25” bar and am ready to start the project.

I have some questions for the wood workers here.

How and when do I cut this slab? Meaning is there something in the log to look for that it won’t crack or is unsuitable for milling?

I cut these trees down a month ago and how long do I wait to start cutting slabs?

Once I cut a slab do I wait for it to cure or start the shaping process?

I plan on cutting quite a few of them to find the perfect one I like. How many should it take?

Once I cut the board, is there a treatment I should do to the wood for food handling?

Thanks in advance and any other advice is welcome
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,800 Posts
How and when do I cut this slab? Meaning is there something in the log to look for that it won’t crack or is unsuitable for milling?

I cut these trees down a month ago and how long do I wait to start cutting slabs?

Once I cut a slab do I wait for it to cure or start the shaping process?

I plan on cutting quite a few of them to find the perfect one I like. How many should it take?

Once I cut the board, is there a treatment I should do to the wood for food handling?

Thanks in advance and any other advice is welcome
Not a woodworker per se, but this is what I know.

When you cut the slab is up to you, leaving it whole longer gives it a chance to dry as a log, but that will take a long time, and you would probably want it in a conditioned space. Even in a conditioned space, you would be looking at 1-2 years on the very low end, I would expect 3-4 for a 24" log, and that might be optimistic.

To cut it, what I have done in the past is to strap a ladder to the log to give me a nice straight guide for the mill to ride on. I've only used an Alaskan mill though, I'm not quite sure how the one you pictured functions. Once you have the first slab off, reset the ladder onto your newly flat surface, and continue to use it as a guide. This requires at least 4 ratchet straps in my experience, so that when you release one to pass the saw through, the ladder doesn't shift. As you cut, you need to use shims, twigs, something to prevent the slab from closing the kerf and pinching your bar. Your stock oiler will not be sufficient either, you will need a second person to pour bar oil onto the tip of the bar essentially as fast as your saw can consume it.

I would cut the slab 4" thick, so that if it warps or cups during curing, you can still get a 2" thick slab out of it. You will not want the pith or core of the tree, it is more likely to check. Once it is cut, paint the ends with latex paint, and if you can, screw in a piece of metal strapping with screws every few inches. The paint will seal the grain so that it does not cure overly fast from the ends, and the strap will help to resist deformation and checking on the ends. If you want it truly cured, you are probably still looking at about a year in a conditioned space. You will want it well supported on dunnage, and you will want dunnage on top along with as much weight as you can stack on it. Once it is cured, mill it down to the final thickness you want, route your channel to hold the juices, and finish it. The only finish I'm aware of that is food safe is tung oil, but I'm certain there are others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
Tung oil is ok but some people are allergic to it. Another problem with tung oil is it is just about impossible to get pure oil that doesn’t have other ingredients in it. Watco butcher block oil is the only one we use in my shop.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,681 Posts
Pretty cool idea there Kbar. (y)(y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
The long grain that you will get from your slabs is not the best for a cutting board, but it will work okay. The best would be to use end grain. It creates a much more durable cutting surface. But if you want to use the long grain slabs, I would cut them extra thick and then find your patience.

Wood will dry at a rate close to 1" per year to be low enough for furniture and accessories. Your board will cup, crack and twist. It will be unavoidable. You actually want to slow down the drying process to help control those outcomes as much as possible. Put your slabs in a big pile sawdust and wrap that in paper bags and set it aside for a few years. That helps slow down the drying and helps minimize defects. You can also coat them in anchorseal to slow the end grain checking and to slow drying.

I mentioned cutting your slabs extra thick, This does a couple things. More mass slows the drying process, and more mass gives you options to cut out the twists and cracks. Stay away from the heartwood. The pith is going to crack. Cut that out and use it for firewood.

Regarding finishes, I agree that tung oil is a decent finish, but what I've used on cutting boards and bowls is a combination of bees wax and mineral oil. It makes a food safe, and easily renewable (important to keep it up) finish that is very easy to use. This is a good read for that approach. Bees wax / Mineral oil discussion

Edit: What c-venn said. Lamination is best approach if you can.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,857 Posts
Sounds like you might have to trade your maple for some already cured maple or buy some cured if you want to make it this year...I'm too impatient with this kind of stuff. I get an idea to make something and I want progress. Great idea kbar, might as well make two, just let me know when I need to pick the finish :LOL:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Sounds like you might have to trade your maple for some already cured maple or buy some cured if you want to make it this year...I'm too impatient with this kind of stuff. I get an idea to make something and I want progress. Great idea kbar, might as well make two, just let me know when I need to pick the finish :LOL:

I have a bunch rough cut and dried in my shop. Stop on by and grab several loads! I'm done making cutting boards for awhile!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
200 Posts
I do know much about the cutting and curing but I have several cutting boards and butcher block. I use Howard Cutting Board Oil and the conditioner. Been using it for a while now and love the results.
 

·
Premium Member
Early 2017 Vintage 1025R TLB (260/H120)
Joined
·
1,984 Posts
Everyone else pretty much covered the drying process. I'd personally avoid tung oil (there's nothing wrong with it) but when it get's opened up it (sanded/cut on, etc) it does have an odor. A food safe mineral oil is going to be your best bet, and use it often (or make a lot of cutting boards...)

End grain cutting boards will wear better with knife work on them, however they require a good bit of effort to maintain (see use mineral oil often).

A good moisture content is around 7-8%, but under 10% is workable, being your climate is more humid in the PNW, 9-10% is what I would strive for. To allow sufficient airflow around the drying wood, cut ~1"x~3/4" wood staves (strips) to use to separate each stacked board. Once you're ready to start cutting on the dried wood, work both sides the same. With thicker wood it will dry fairly even along the edges/sides, so if you machine a 4" block to 2" thickness by taking 1 3/4" from one side and 1/4" from the other, you'll have uneven moisture content on the two surfaces which will cause warping and/or twisting, try and take even amounts from both sides to get your desired thickness - This doesn't have to be perfect, 3/4 from one side and 5/8th on the other and you'll be ok. Wood also has internal stresses that once cut can "free" the board and allow it to twist, this is less common in straighter grain pieces. Once you start machining the wood, plan to get it "done" with your oil of choice within 48 hours, unless you're gluing parts up. The oil helps seal it and the longer that the wood is "open", the higher probability that it'll warp/twist/check ("checking" is spitting in woodworker terms) before your done.

Sanding end grain takes 4-50x longer than sanding long grain, unless you have a drum sander.

Being that you have a ton of wood available, depending on storage space..... This is likely what I'd do if not going with the end grain style - cut a bunch of boards out of the wood, machine one to be a cutting board now, let the rest dry over the new 12-24-120 months. Use your new cutting board and see what you do and don't like about it over the next year or ten and then make another with the better conditioned wood.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Kyle —

I’m having a guy come to our place with a portable mill to cut up some of our logs in a few weeks, a combination of slabs and dimensional lumber. He’s in Marysville and I can send you his contact info. We used to have a portable mill before moving to WA, and I’ve used an Alaskan with my small saw too — much prefer bandsaw mill but both can work. That’s a lotta work with your chainsaw, cutting with the grain. Worth a try.

We’ll stack and sticker our cedar and hemlock. Do a search on how to do that — needs to be flat and good air circulation.

Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
351 Posts
Beeswax and mineral oil make a nice board butter. 1 part bees wax to 4 parts mineral oil melted together. I could send you a couple ounces of bees wax if you wanna try it.

I agree with some of the others. If you want a single solid piece, cut it oversized in all dimensions. Sometimes checking on the ends can be 3-4", then cut it extra thick so you have enough material to flatten it out once it dries and likely warps.

Flattening a slab is a lot of work. I've had much better luck cutting a slab apart in small strips and gluing it back together. I cut them then dry fit them to see how it looks. If its still got a good twist or bow, I just cut smaller strips and try again. You have to have extra material to take this approach, obviously, every time you cut it you lose the blade thickness of material. But it saves hours of flattening if you don't have the machinery to handle the slabs.

I've seen some nice router jigs for flattening slabs. I haven't tried it, I don't think my router will handle it.

780399
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, there’s a lot to it I guess. I have several tons of wood but not a ton of room for curing.

Steve, this guy from Marysville- maybe he would trade for some logs idk but I’m still interested in trying my hand at milling a handful of slabs. Kinda like the concept of doing it all myself from a standing tree. Gives the board an interesting story.

End grain vs. long grain- I like the end grain look but I don’t think I’ll achieve the size I’m looking for but theee are a couple 30” maples I plan to take down this summer and they might have the girth to be big enough.

Looks like I’ll need some slats to stack the wood on for air circulation. And plenty of patience.

I’d prefer one solid piece to a laminate but I’m up for suggestions if I can’t get the results I want.

How do I check the moisture content and know when it’s ready?
 

·
Premium Member
Early 2017 Vintage 1025R TLB (260/H120)
Joined
·
1,984 Posts
Wow, there’s a lot to it I guess. I have several tons of wood but not a ton of room for curing.

Steve, this guy from Marysville- maybe he would trade for some logs idk but I’m still interested in trying my hand at milling a handful of slabs. Kinda like the concept of doing it all myself from a standing tree. Gives the board an interesting story.

End grain vs. long grain- I like the end grain look but I don’t think I’ll achieve the size I’m looking for but theee are a couple 30” maples I plan to take down this summer and they might have the girth to be big enough.

Looks like I’ll need some slats to stack the wood on for air circulation. And plenty of patience.

I’d prefer one solid piece to a laminate but I’m up for suggestions if I can’t get the results I want.

How do I check the moisture content and know when it’s ready?
If you're looking to do end grain - I would recommend taking a thick board and cutting strips, rotating each one 90 degrees and gluing up the long grain. Also alternate the long grain between edges so it's similar to |/////|\\\\\|//////| This will provide additional strength to prevent checking. Wood glue, 99% of the time provides a stronger bond with long grain to long gain than the wood itself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
I've seen some nice router jigs for flattening slabs. I haven't tried it, I don't think my router will handle it.
Yep — here’s what I’ve used. In both cases I used a Dewalt 2-1/4 hp router with plunge base and 2-inch cutter head.
780401
780402
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Wow, there’s a lot to it I guess. I have several tons of wood but not a ton of room for curing.

Steve, this guy from Marysville- maybe he would trade for some logs idk but I’m still interested in trying my hand at milling a handful of slabs. Kinda like the concept of doing it all myself from a standing tree. Gives the board an interesting story.
My guess is he's not a trading kinda guy. Bring one of your logs by, they can slab it up and I can grab a slab myself to try out some big leaf maple. Slabbing a small log would only take 15 minutes or so. As to timing, that's up to me. I'm thinking about 3 weeks from now since I have to move and stack a lot of split firewood that's in the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,800 Posts
Your other option is to get your slabs kiln dried. There used to be a kiln in Sultan, but they shut down about 4 years ago. You might try calling local woodworkers to see if there is a relatively close kiln, that would take your drying time from a year plus to 6-12 weeks.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Your other option is to get your slabs kiln dried. There used to be a kiln in Sultan, but they shut down about 4 years ago. You might try calling local woodworkers to see if there is a relatively close kiln, that would take your drying time from a year plus to 6-12 weeks.
There are a couple lumber yards near me. Might talk to those guys. Good idea.

Steve, if you want some big leaf maple your welcome to whatever you want
 

·
Premium Member
2020 1025R, 120R, 54D
Joined
·
2,498 Posts
Another thing to consider Kyle. You said you were going to use a chainsaw. Most saws don't do well milling. You need a really durable saw that will sustain high RPM's for a long time and need a very good oiler to keep the chain lubed. Heat is what kills most saws and milling creates lots of it.
 

·
Premium Member
2020 1025R, 120R, 54D
Joined
·
2,498 Posts
need a very good oiler to keep the chain lubed
Since you want a food-safe cutting board, milling with bar oil probably isn't a good idea as it will find its way into the wood.

A bandsaw or conventional mill is probably the best bet.

Wouldn't want you to lose your Rock Star status with the Mrs. ;)
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top