Jul 252012

If you are just joining us, we are building cutting boards in a concept I call social woodworking. First, we planned them and then went shopping for wood. After cutting wood strips, we assembled the boards. Today, we finish them up. If you would like to buy a cutting board, they are available in the Store

To finish up our cutting boards, we next round over the edge and corners. To finish over the corners, I loaded a 1/2″ round-over bit in my router and mounted it in the table. To round over the corners, I stood the boards on edge and ran them through the router.
 The result is a nice, round corner.  
 Next, we want to round over the edges to make them easy to pick up and keep them from splintering. Rounded edges are visually appealing, too. I like to have the edge rounded over to nearly half the width. These boards ended up about 3/4″ thick. If I used a 3/8″ round over bit, it would have left the edge looking like a half circle (3/8″+3/8″=3/4″). To leave a slight flat spot on the edge, I used a 1/4″ bit (1/4″+1/4″=1/2″ leaving 1/4″ flat side). It adds a little more “bulk” to the look of the board.
 As you can see, there are a few sides to smooth over. It takes awhile. There are some burn marks on the corners. They are a result of my not moving the wood through the router bit quickly enough. Since It was on edge, I moved it slowly to control it better. However, the slow speed allowed heat to build up and the wood burned. It is easy to take off the burn marks with sandpaper.  
  Speaking of sanding, let’s do some. You can see the nicely rounded edges and corners. Looks much nicer. I used some 100 grit sandpaper in palm sander and took off all the burn marks and the other unevenness. The results were very nice. I could have sanded them with a higher grit, but honestly, it doesn’t make that much difference in a cutting board  used in a kitchen. These aren’t fine furniture. 100 grit sanding is good enough.
 Here is a great picture of the edge of a board. You can see where the 1/4″ flat side has some burn marks from the table saw on it. I was able to quickly remove these with the sander. I don’t know what I would do without a power sander. It takes forever by hand.  
  With the sanding done, it is time to apply some finish. Cutting boards are used around food, of course, so we need a food safe finish. There are a few to choose from. I like mineral oil because it is available everywhere, inexpensive and completely safe. Walnut is another I have heard of being used. I have a friend with an allergy to walnuts, so I never really warmed to using it for fear of causing someone harm. Mineral oil’s downside is it doesn’t last very long. To keep a board looking its best, it will need a thin coat of mineral oil rubbed on every few months or so.
Mineral oil is dead easy to apply. Pour a small amount on the board. Take a paper towel, fold or wad it up and rub.  
   You can see how quickly the beauty of the wood appears with just a little oil on it. This is the first coat of oil of three or four I apply when finishing it for the first time. It will soak into the wood a little more with each application.
 It is quite therapeutic to apply finish this way. There is something about watching the oil absorb into the surface and the way it feels in my hand. Sometimes I think I perhaps do it a little too much, but it can’t hurt the wood. Get yourself a board and some mineral oil. It really helps to remove the stress of a rough day.  
 Here are the finished boards. They turned out very nice. There are five different patterns to choose. Which do you like the best? I would really like to hear your favorite. Let me know in the comments, please. If you would like to buy one, they are available in the store.

Cutting Board Pattern 1

Cutting Board Pattern 2

Cutting Board Pattern 3


Cutting Board Pattern 4

Cutting Board Pattern 5

Nov 222011

Walking aloneSome days, I just don’t want to do any more.

Work has been especially busy, as we kicking off a huge, multi-year project. All the meetings, planning and uncertainty that goes with it leaves me pretty drained at the end of the day. Of course, all the usual problems of the day don’t just go into cold storage during this time. It is enough to make me want to stop off for a double chocolate malted.

As a consequence of work, not much is getting done at home. Tonight I found a way to do more, even when I’m exhausted from work. I made myself get up and take a walk. Thirty minutes and I feel a lot better. That little bit of exercise helps me get the energy to jump into other tasks for the rest of the evening.

When the lack of desire is overcoming the need to perform, try a walk. Fifteen to thirty minutes may make the next couple of hours so much more productive!

Nov 032011

If public speaking is the most feared task in the world, meeting someone new to discuss my career has to rank right next to it. Even the most extroverts of extroverts pale at the task. How do I know? I am an extrovert and it scares me to death every time. If it makes me shy away from making contact, imagine what it must do to person who is naturally shy? Yet, in today’s economy and business climate, we must have a strong network.Here are some ideas I hope help.

  1. Practice on friends. I always recommend starting a network with friends and neighbors, people who already know and respect me. They will give me the benefit of the doubt regardless of how many mistakes I make and give honest feedback and advice. I started my first interview with a good friend. Even at though I had known him for years, I was terrified when I sat down in his office. He was most kind, listened carefully and complimented my courage. He expressed his own fears of building a network. In fact, that comment was one I heard many, many times. Everyone knew they should build their own network, but they had the same fear. They respected me for breaking past those fears when they hadn’t.
  2. Prepare questions.  Write out questions before hand and have them on the top sheet of the notepad. It only takes a few questions to fill 15 minutes, so it isn’t hard. I carried a portfolio, with a pad of paper for note taking on the right. In the left pocket, I carried a list of standard questions and a couple copies of my resume. I didn’t use the questions each time, but they were there for me if the conversation lagged. Knowing I had something ready to fill a gap of silence helped me relax and listen.
  3. Role play  Take an opportunity to practice. Sit down with a spouse, child or family dog and play it out. Children absolutely love doing this, by the way. They know how to plan “make believe” better than anyone. Play both sides of the interview. How would you feel if someone asked you to give the advice on what you do for a living? It is an honor. It provides a feeling of accomplishment to be asked for advice. Try asking questions in slightly different ways and see how they sound. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Meet at a neutral site. It can be very intimidating to walk into someone’s office and start asking questions. One way to relax the exchange is to meet someplace neutral. Starbucks is one of my favorite locations. They spend a lot of money to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere that begs for a conversation. It may cost you a few extra dollars to buy your new friend a cup of coffee, but the relaxed atmosphere can be well worth the money.
  5. Remember, they will envy you! I can’t tell you how many times people complimented me on doing something that terrified them. This included everyone from the janitor to CEOs. Meeting people takes us out of our comfort zone and we respect people willing to take the chance. Take the risk and be the one others admire. Then you can help them face their fears and follow your lead. They will always remember and thank you.
  6. Realistically, what’s the worst that can happen? Seriously, what is the absolute worst that can happen? Let me tell about my worst experiences. If you have one worse than this, I would love to hear about it.

    I was recommended to meet with the CEO of a successful group of companies. After getting on his calendar, I walked into his office and introduced myself. He wouldn’t speak to me. He sat there and stared at me, not saying a word. I instantly began to sweat and knew it was going nowhere. I explained my background and how I wanted his advice. He continued to stare at me and said nothing. I stammered through the rest of my presentation, thanked him for his time and fled. I left shaking. I had already done over fifty interviews at this point, so I knew the process worked. What happened? I couldn’t understand it. I happened to have two, back-to-back interviews lined up that day, both with CEOs. I was terrified to go to  the next one after that experience. Because I had an appointment, I forced myself. I must have still be shaking in the introduction because he asked me what was wrong. I briefly told him of my previous experience with the silent CEO. He laughed and assured me he knew exactly how I felt. This CEO treated him the same way. I then relaxed as this CEO opened his entire rolodex to me.

    What is the second worst experience? I made a call to a vice president at the recommendation of a colleague. As I introduce myself and explained who had put me in touch with her, she responded, “I don’t know this person and I wish she would stop using my name.” She was unhappy and didn’t want to speak further. I apologized and hung up the phone.  Oops. I crossed her off my list of people I would ever get to meet. There is no way I could have anticipated this exchange, trusting this colleague who said they had a relationship. It happens. Some people like to drop names. I can usually sniff them out and discount their advice. Apologize and move on. Ironically, I later did meet this particular vice president when I interviewed at her company. To my relief, she didn’t remember my name and I certainly didn’t offer to remind her of the experience.

When putting oneself “out there”, bad things can happen. However, it isn’t the end of the world. Write off the experience to learning and keep moving. Not every interview is going to go well, but most will. However, in over 130, I have had just two I would call bad. If only I could get anything else in life to have a less than 2% failure rate.

While networking can be uncomfortable, it is so rewarding. The people I have met have been pleasant, encouraging and eager to help. Take the leap of faith and try one. It is worth it.