A “non” carving project

In Oct of 2019, Debra mentioned that she had an idea for Christmas gifts for all of her sisters. Her idea was to get cheese boards made with a family recipe from her late mother. After looking at some Pinterest pictures and talking it over with her, I offered to do it for her and her sisters and sisters-in-law. Well I immediately fired up the Glowforge (mine is named George) but soon discovered there is more to it than uploading a word doc to be laser engraved on a piece of wood…

The first step was finding a recipe that Debra wanted to use, she decided on a creme brûlée that we found was hand written by her mom many years ago. I then took a photo of the recipe card and realized I had no idea how to get the writing off of a jpg into a svg file so George could read it and laser it. This was compounded because her mom had written some extra instructions on the backside of the card. I also wanted to add her signature which was not on this recipe but I was able to grab it from another recipe card she had signed. I stumbled upon a software (Silhouette Studio) that made it easy possible to manipulate the text. After watching several hours of YouTube tutorials on how to navigate this software, I finally had a pretty clean file to upload to George for engraving.

The next step was designing a shape for the cheese/cutting boards. I traced some pictures of ones Debra liked and cut out a pattern on George. I used this pattern to trace them onto a board and then cut them to length on a chop saw and cut out the rough shape on a band saw.

Somewhere along this process my wife said it would be nice to give one of these to her aunts as well. So add another five or six to the original six. Several days later she said it would be kinda nice to give them to a few of her close cousins too… I think I ended up making 19 or 20 of them.

After I cut them close to size, I took them to the router and using my original pattern, I was able to get them looking pretty close to the shape we wanted. Now it was finally George’s turn to work on them, I had to do my best to align each one in the laser engraver so that the writing was straight and not crowding either side. After the engraving, (which took roughly 30 min each), they had burn marks from the laser.

…so I went to work on them with my sander. I was happy to realize I could use the negative of the pattern I had cut from MDF as a holder for the boards as I sanded them.

I went through several stacks of sanding pads and breathed in quite a bit of dust in spite of my respirator. I am not a knowledgeable woodworker by any means but I did have fun with this project and it brought me a lot of joy seeing my wife’s excitement over the finished product. All that was left to do was treat the boards with a finish. I didn’t think anyone would use them as an actual cutting board or serving tray but I opted to use a food safe preservative oil on them that really brought out the character of the wood grain.

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