Wood Serving Block
By Rob Brown
Presentation is everything, and creating your own one-of-a-kind serving block will take the cake this holiday season. Make a series of blocks in various shapes and sizes for entertaining family and friends at home, or as gifts for your favourite hosts. Carve, burn, or stencil a design or monogram for extra personal appeal. There's no limit on the creative possibilities to serve up some love!Helpful Tips
- Practice on some scrap softwood before reaching for the more expensive, denser species.
- Feel free to adjust the shape of the block to suit your preference and the piece of wood you're using.
What You'll Need Materials
- hardwood blank
- food-safe finish 4548-181
- Dress the workpiece down to about 1" thick. Smaller serving blocks can be made from thinner materials.
- Draw the outline of the block on the workpiece. Use a combination of flexible curves, round objects, and freehand sketching.
- Set the angle of your band saw or scroll saw table to
15 degrees and cut the shape, making sure to cut on the proper side of the line.
- Use a block plane, rasp file, and sanding block to fair and smooth the freshly cut outer edge.
- When complete, the lower portion of the angled edge should have a slight radius on it and be smooth enough to apply a finish.
- Sand the top and bottom surfaces of the block, and break the sharp edges.
- Lay out the carved design by using a scribe compass to draw an arc near one end. Next, use a straightedge to draw guidelines radiating from the centre point of the arc, but only beyond the arc.
- Use a V-gouge to carve the straight and rounded grooves. Another option is to use an awl to create a series of small holes or a knife to inscribe a series of shallow cuts. These grooves or holes are only for decoration, so feel free to experiment on some scrap.
- One final light sanding will remove any pencil marks from the wood.
- Apply a food-safe finish. Build coats until you're satisfied.
- Reapply finish when necessary.
|Lots of Options |
Each serving block can be a different shape. Use a combination of flexible curves, round objects, and freehand sketching to achieve a pleasing shape.
|Angled Edge |
The overall shape of the serving block can be cut with either a scroll saw or band saw. Tilt the table to 15 degrees and cut out the block shape.
|Fair, Smooth Edges |
A block plane will help fair the straighter edge sections, while the rasp file and sander will assist with the curved portions. A smooth, even feel is what you're after.
|Lighten the Look |
With the edge smooth you can add a slight round to it with some hand tools. Removing more material near the bottom of the serving block gives it a nicer, lighter look.
|Add a Focal Point |
After laying out the design, use a tool to add an aesthetically pleasing design to a portion of the surface. This is strictly for looks so experiment with different tools, techniques, and shapes.
|Food Safe Finish |
Food will come in contact with the finish so you need to ensure it is food safe. Experiment with scrap because the finish will have a different look on different wood.
Rob Brown designs and builds custom furniture and is editor of Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement magazine.