2023 BeerBQ Swap - Chaotic Cutting Board with Morse Code

I have been making end grain cutting boards for years. A while back (8 years?) I wanted to try my hand at a chaotic cutting board. It was fun and the board turned out great. I kept looking at my rip offcuts and thought about gluing them up rather than repeated slicing of planks to get random shapes. So I started saving my rip offcuts.

When I have time or want to take a break from other projects I’ll glue these strips together into assemblies. They form small planks around 1” in size. Then I’ll eventually glue them up into wider boards. I get them to a uniform thickness with my drum sander. Then they sit on a shelf. For a long time.

I also had a large chunk of walnut that had been milled from a local tree. The piece was 3”x4” in cross section but was horribly checked. All I could get out of it was pieces of a very small cross section and only a foot or so long. I could get a lot of them but nothing like a regular board.
I then got this wild idea to make Morse code planks to put into my cutting boards. I worked out patterns for a handful of words and glued them up. The dots and dashes are walnut and the spacers are maple.

I then wrapped the words with a layer of maple. I used narrow strips of maple and rotated the grain to keep things stable.

When I looked at past swaps it looked like my recipient (HokieKen) has gotten a lot of different gifts, but no cutting boards. That’s probably because the BBQ part was recently added. If I remember right, he has a connection with railroads. That’s close enough for a Morse code board.
I also wanted to try a different technique for end grain boards. I made up a blank that is 4” thick. That is the largest size that will fit in my drum sander.

Once that was done, I made up some boards of maple strips. Again, I switched up the grain direction with smaller strips of maple.

These were glued up into boards that were wide enough to wrap the main blank.

Then I put the border on the longer sides.

Next, I squared up the edges.

Putting the maple border on the ends finishes the blank.

The next step is to slice the blank into 4 boards. I made a couple passes on the table saw and then finish the cut on the bandsaw. This is after the first separation.

And I end up with 4 cutting boards. Kind of like a limited edition 😁

I rounded the corners and did a ton of sanding. That was follow up with 3 coats of butcher block conditioner.

Now I have 3 more to finish up and give away. Well, only 2 since I think one of these is staying here.

PS: I think I’ll hold off on posting the Morse Code solution. Others can do that in the comments if they wish. 


nice work steve thats a lot of glue up work. pretty cool morse code message. kids today probably dont even know what it is. when i took electronic's in junior high they had a ham radio but to get in and use it he made you learn morse code. i never did though. i thought, what the hell for ?

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

My dad was a WWII radio operator, if he was alive he would have cherished this Steve. What a great idea, and yes, I solved it.

"Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

Great write up Steve, interesting that you start making the glue-ups without even thinking about the final use. Makes you an optimist!

I use to know Mores code when I was a kid, now the only letters I remember are the "E" and "T" plus "SOS" of course.
Fortunately I could just type "." and "-" into Google to convert 😀
Wow beautiful and very creative.  I only know SOS, haha. Well done! 

No name noobie here

Really nicely done. And quite creative! 👍🏼

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Very unique and interesting, nice work.
Great job and write up SR...

Did you use an auto correct for the "... .--. . .-.. .-.. .. -. --."... could have combined them into a 4 page short story book... deja vu, deja vu, deja vu.

Cheap and woodwortking in the same sentenc is an oxymoron!

Such a great board Steve and I am tickled to have it!  Thanks for the details on the construction.  It really is as random as I thought it might be.  Just glue up a bunch of scraps that fit together!  But wow what a stunning finished piece.  And the morse code was a stroke of brilliance!  So creative and engaging.  I’m completely floored by the whole package and the hours of entertainment and pleasure it will provide 😎
Wow, Steve! You are the god of tiny parts glued together! Glad you did the board 4-up so you don’t have to go through that again too soon.

May you have the day you deserve!

You're welcome Kenny! You were an ideal recipient for that board.

Dave - I've got more random glue ups ready to go for another set. I do like the 4-up build technique though.
Great charcuterie board.  Lots of pieces in the glue up.
Will try to figure it out.

daveg, SW Washington & AZ

The Morse code is a great idea I’m going borrow in the future.  It would make a great secret message on a gifts.

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

I couldn't figure out the morse code. It's english?



 commented 40 minutes ago
I couldn't figure out the morse code. It's english?

Correction... mathematics... fractionl semi-four.

Cheap and woodwortking in the same sentenc is an oxymoron!

Thanks for the comments everyone
Nathan - have fun with it. I toyed with an idea to build in a QR code with the owner's name but that was too complicated. I could have had someone with a laser burn it in but it's not the same as built in.
Jan - Hopefully Ken's answer helped you out
very clever idea swap guys always come up with GR8  ideas GR8 JOB 😍😎👍


When I first saw this, I wondered if there was a QR code too!  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Very cool!  and with embedded meaning makes it cooler....Morse code things are wildly popular.  There is a 62 yo lady that works with my wife, and she wears a bracelet that says "F&*k off" in morse code.  She has really only told a couple people, and she is the nicest lady, you would never expect....it makes me laugh.


Hmmm, I might need to make up some more word blanks