The Cheeseboard in Three Steps

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There’s practically no steps to this. I feel almost silly even writing it, but there’s some small knowledge here that can make a big difference if you make one, and that’s why I’m gonna be talking about it. The key is in the sanding.

First of all, why the hell didn’t I have a cheeseboard until now? I love cheese! I’ve been cutting the stuff on plates and that’s just dumb. I’ve broken plates this way and certainly dulled my knives. The best thing to cut on while look like a classy son-of-a-gun in the process is definitely real wood.

I’m using Walnut because it’s super sexy, but also is really good to work with and will give a great finish. Step one is obviously to just cut your board. I’m gonna use a live edge because I have access to great pieces of wood, but you can make a fancy shape, leave it square, or anything really. Whatever your shape, I say simpler the better, because the faster you’re done, the quicker you can load it up with cheese and meats.

After the shape is established, it’s time for the un-fun and necessary… lots of sanding. Don’t skimp on this part, and don’t think you can get away with one grit and make it nice. You really have to step down with the grit, and this will make not only a better product, but it’ll go faster too. If your board is relatively smooth from a planer, then start with about a 80 grit on an orbital sander. After you have sufficiently smoothed out any major imperfections, it’s time to change the grit. Next hit it with some 120, then 220, then 320, and if you’re really going for that silky feel – 400 with a hand block sanding in the direction of the grain. At this point, the bare wood will be so smooth you won’t want to stop touching it.

Next blow the dust off with a compressor or use a tack cloth to get the dust off. If you’re sanding furniture, I like a little dust in my finish to fill the grain… But we’re going to oil this piece to make if food safe, and I don’t want any dust in my cheese.

Apply some mineral oil to the wood with a soft cloth and then remove any excess with another cloth. You can apply a few coats, making sure it soaks into the wood plenty. After a cure period of a couple days, you’re ready to use it. You can reapply oil every once-in-a-while to keep it looking good… and if you’re doing tons of cutting, you can always re-sand to get it back to the original condition.

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Kubb, a Swedish lawn game

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You’ll need some tools:
  • saw for ripping - table saw works best
  • saw for cutting - miter saw or hand saw
  • sander
You’ll need a few materials:
  • one 6ft long 4"x4" post - untreated fir, pine
  • Danish oil or other oil finish
  • sandpaper
  • rag to apply finish

My kind of sports involve hanging out with friends, and most of the time having a drink. Bowling seems to be what we do most of the time, but now that it’s sunny and nice out, it feels strange to be indoors while there’s daylight. Bocce is fun, but it requires a very specific court condition that is not easy to create. Enter Kubb, a Swedish lawn game. It’s easy to make a set, and it’s much safer to drink and play Kubb than it is to bring out your antique set of lawn darts. A set can be made with nothing more than a clothes rod, a 6ft 4×4 post, and a saw.

The most inexpensive way to build a set is to start with a 6ft 4×4 post and some dowel clothes rods from your nearest lumberyard. Official Kubb makers suggest using a hardwood, since you’re going to be hucking the pieces at each other, but for the occasional Kubb match you should be fine with a Douglas Fir post or whatever is best grown in your area (Do not buy pressure treated lumber for this – the chemicals in there are numerous and released when the wood is cut). Being the wood snob that I am, I actually went with some Western Walnut shorts from Goby Walnut, but this is only because it’s nearly as cheap since they salvage lots of old Walnut trees. It was about $30 for enough walnut to create all the pieces. I used Birch dowels for the batons, which are inexpensive and readily available at most wood/hardware stores. If you’re having trouble finding dowels large enough, you can always use a wooden clothes rod.

You can cut your main pieces all from the 6ft post, which makes buying materials easy. First cut a 12” section off for your King piece, then you’ll need to rip the remaining stock down to a 2.75” x 2.75” size. This is most easily done on a table saw, or if you have a guide attachment on your circular saw, that works well too. Once you have your post slimmed, cut into equal lengths for each Kubb piece. Typically each piece is 6” tall, but will be slightly less to accommodate the amount a blade takes out with each cut. Once all pieces were cut, I beveled all the edges wish a sander and used the table saw to make some decorative cuts into the King. You can really carve some interesting shapes, cuts and crowns into your King, even add some painted stripes to make it stand out.

You’ll need a 6ft clothes rod dowels to make your batons, which should be cut to 6 equal lengths. As for field marking stakes, you can use any size of dowels, since their purpose is to just mark field territory. If you can get an 8ft clothes rod, just cut 6inch stakes out of that extra bit.

After cutting all pieces, I roughly sanded everything and coated the field pieces with Danish oil. This part isn’t really necessary, but the oil will provide some protection when you’re launching the pieces around. Oil is a good choice, since it soaks into the wood and hardens, whereas a polyurethane is a surface based protector. When you’re dinging field Kubbs with a baton, the oil won’t chip like poly could.

As for playing the game – it’s strategic, but easy to grasp. You can play with 2-12 folks, and a match can last between 20 minutes to a couple hours depending on how good your aim is. There’s lots of places for good instructions here and here, and plenty of funny videos – two of the more interesting ones are here and here.

 

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Salt Cellar Project

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You’ll need some tools:
  • A belt sander with heavy grit paper
  • Orbital or palm sander with finer grit paper
  • Drill press and forstner bit
  • OSMO finish
  • Soft cloths
You’ll need a few materials:
  • Block of wood –I used walnut
  • Glass vessels – sciplus.com

My latest DIY for Design*Sponge just went live, so I wanted to share with you here as well. I was hesitant to embrace their May theme of flowers, but after some thought, I started thinking… What would I make my Mom for Mother’s Day in a kind of “middle-school shop class” style?

I’ve had some interesting apothecary-type glass bottles laying around from an impulse purchase at American Science and Surplus, and some rough Walnut stashed in the shop. What if I use them both to make a small flower vessel centerpiece? Maybe I add a little salt cellar to it as well? This project goes much easier if you have the right tools, but could be accomplished with lesser machinery with some modifications.

From my rough of Walnut, I cut a piece off and started some rough sanding on the belt sander. You can use a palm sander, but it’s certainly going to take longer. I started out in a conventional shape, but decided to experiment with some facets and angles… just free-form sanding, but making sure my surfaces are all flat. You have lots of ways to experiment here – all square edges, angles, facets, live edges, bark edges… you can pretty much try anything. Rough sand with a heavy grit (60-80) to get the general shape you want.

From there, I mounted the block on the lathe to cut a cellar out of it. I know lathes aren’t readily available in most homes, but you can carve this with hand tools, or even just drill out a surface. Maybe drill out a surface for a ceramic salt cellar to be placed in it? If you’re turning on the lathe, make sure you do it a the slowest possible speed. Since the carving is not centered, it’s going to wobble for sure.

Once having the cellar shape cut and sanded on the lathe, I used my drill press and a forstner bit to cut the vessel holes. Measure your vessel and cut a hole just slightly larger. Decide how deep or high you want them sitting… and you could even angle them in for an interesting look. Please be careful if you’re using a hand-held drill and a forstner bit… they usually get unwieldy very quickly.

After all my cuts and holes have been made, It’s time for finish sanding. This is the part I always want to rush, and it pays to relax and go slow. The more sanding you do, the better your surface will feel. I used my orbital sander with grits from 120, 180, 260, and 320. By then, you’re getting wood incredibly smooth, and I further worked the surface with a hand sanding block and 400 grit ultra-fine paper. With that last pass, you’ve got VERY fine dust everywhere, so make sure you either blow it all off with compressed air, or use a tack cloth to clean the wood.

After sanding is complete, you can apply some finish. Since this will be touching something edible, make sure you pick a food-safe product. I have been using OSMO lately and I think it’s great. It’s low VOC and made from vegetable oils and waxes. Apply some OSMO thinly with a soft cloth and follow up with a clean cloth. Then just let it cure for 12 hours. Once cured, you can buff for a little more shine.

Last step – add your favorite finishing salt, and pick a small flower or twig from your yard to complete!

 

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