Introduction: Pigasus Cutting Board

This is a nice project for this time of year. With all the holiday parties and housewarmings, it makes a nice gift. It is a cutting board, made of hardwood, shaped like Pigasus.

Pigasus was used by John Steinbeck to symbolize himself as "earthbound but aspiring.... not enough wingspan but plenty of intention." If you are from Philadelphia, call it a fly pig if you wish.

Cutting boards are a fun project that can easily be completed in less than an hour and are appreciated by their recipients. Ceramic and glass cutting boards quickly dull knives. Plastic cutting boards, besides being soulless, get all sliced up and get harder and harder to clean. Researchers have found that when bacteria are placed on a wood cutting board, they are gone 5 minutes later. (Not just dead, but gone.) Over time, trees have developed a mechanism to discourage single cell organisms from feeding off of them. (Thick bark and bug busting wood). It is easy to sanitize a cutting board by just placing it in the oven after food has been cooked and the oven has been turned off and leaving it there until the oven is back to room temperature.

Ideally this project should be cut with a scroll saw. The scroll saw blade burnishes the wood to such a high luster that no sawing is needed on the cut edge. However it can be cut with a band saw or saber saw with appropriately narrow blades.

Step 1: Transfer the Pattern to the Wood

Chose a piece of hardwood that is free of knots or splits. The wood of choice is Eastern Hard (Rock) Maple however any fruit wood (cherry, beech, or walnut) would be good choices. I do not recommend Oak as it contains tannin and can add a bitter taste to food. Any softwood like fir, hemlock, spruce or pine would definitely not hold up with use and should be avoided.

The normal size for this cutting board is 9" by 12". The pattern is included in the is sized 6" by 8" to fit on a single pager of letter sized paper. You will have to enlarge the pattern to 150%. However you can resize the pattern to fit whatever size piece of wood you have.

Use repositionable spray adhesive to attach the pattern to the board. Applying clear packing tape to the top of the pattern will work as a lubricant to reduce burning as fruit wood easily burns.

Step 2: Cut Out Pattern

Cut out the pattern using an Olson #9 PGT blade. Do not be afraid to change blades if they dull quickly.

Step 3: Sand and Break Edges

After you finish cutting, sand the flat surfaces with 120 grit sandpaper. Roll up a piece of sandpaper and use it like a round file to break the edges. Finally take a thin strip and sandpaper to sand the wing cut.

Step 4: Apply Finish

Apply an oil finish. Paraffin oil or mineral oil is a good choice. So is a wax based salad bowl finish. I would stay away from walnut or other nut oils as the user may have food allergies.

Appropriate finishes can be found in many woodworking and kitchen supply stores. Use a small brush to get into tight corners. Apply liberally, wipe off excess and rub to a high luster.

Step 5: You Are Done

After you have buffered it out, it is ready to be used. That means you can make it and immediately give it out as a gift. Suppose you are going to a house warming party on a Saturday afternoon. Build the cutting board that morning and then place cookies, cheese, meat (not pork), or whatever on it. Give it to the hostess when you arrive at the party. Later, when you go to leave, they will attempt to give it back. This is where you tell them it is a gift. They will then ask if you made it. Your response is "It was lumber four hours ago". That never seizes to amaze.