How To Make a Matching Cheese Board and Knife

Watch how I take some off cuts and a knife kit and make a matching cheese board and cheese knife set for a friend!

I made this project out of a cheese knife kit and a some offcuts from other projects. This kind of project is very scalable and customizable. I’m building this to some constraints from my client, but you can get as creative with wood varieties and patterns as you want, or go really simple and just use a single board.

My first step was to joint a straight edge on each board. I took care to read the grain on each board before feeding it through the jointer to minimize tear out. If you don’t have a jointer there are ways to do this on the table saw, or if you work with surfaced lumber it’s probably unnecessary.

After jointing I rip the pieces to width at the table saw with a ripping blade. For my design I rip my maple board in half, the purple heart at around 5/8” and two sets of thin walnut strips, one set about 3/16” and one just over 1/8”. I didn’t plane these done to thickness now because I’m going to have to plane everything after the glue up anyway.

With everything ripped I finalized my design by playing around with different arrangements until I found one I liked the most. Then I glued everything together with plenty of glue and clamping pressure. This time I thought ahead and remembered to orient the grain in the same direction on each board to minimize tear out later.

Now it’s time to re-surface both faces. As always I go to the jointer first to get a flat face. For safety I joint the side that is the most flat because it will be the most stable. Then I can go to the planer to flatten the other side.

I left everything long to minimize getting snipe on the jointer or planer, so now I just trim everything to length. I don’t have a particular length in mind for this piece, so I just cut off as much as is necessary to get a flat edge and leave the piece as long as possible.

>Now it’s time for finishing touches. I chamfer all the edge with my block plane and then sand up to 150 grit. Then I spritz the wood with water to raise the grain and sand at 220 grit before finishing with mineral oil. It’s a very easy finish to apply and food safe. Just rub up a liberal amount, let it sit for some hours or overnight, and then rub off the excess. Whenever the board gets dull a new coat can be applied.

With the board complete I moved on to the matching cheese knife. I use some offcuts and lay out a pattern that is similar to the board pattern. I glue these together with regular wood glue, it’s not important that the piece be perfectly square or aligned because it will be turned round anyway.

After the glue dried I drill a hole at the drill press for the kit tube to go in. I just use some CA glue to hold this in place. I should have scuffed the tube first with some sandpaper to get better adhesion, but I forgot.

Now it’s lathe work. I mount the blank on a pen mandrel and start with a roughing gouge to turn the square to a circle. Once it’s round I switch to a spindle gouge to get close to the profile I want and the ends close to matching the size of the hardware. I’m not particularly skilled on the lathe yet, so any time I want good accuracy I use the lathe tools to get close and then sand the piece to the size I want.

Once the handle is at the right size I sand up to 600 grit before switching to abrasive pads. I finish the handle using a friction polish. I put on a heavy first coat and then remove the excess. I apply the rest of the coats very thin, using a fair amount of pressure to build up heat to cure the shellac in the finish. I do about 12 thin coats to build up a good film.

The hardware for the knife fit really tight in the tube so I don’t bother with any glue. It was actually tight enough I couldn’t put them together by hand so I use a clamp to squeeze them together.

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