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    How to Cut the Perfect Thumb-Hold Profile

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    How to make a cutting boardThe finger slot and slight curve at both ends of this cutting board add a simple design element that looks great and can be made quickly and easily. You can create it by cutting the slot at the router table, bandsawing the curve along the end and cleaning up the cuts with a belt sander. The trick is to cut the thumb profiles while the ends are still square. That way, you can safely rout the ends while holding the workpiece vertically. The curve, traced on using a shop-made template, should come in just enough to shorten the length of the finger slot, letting it fade gently into the end of the cutting board. Click the photo at left for an enlarged view.

    Start with a blank made from eight pieces of stock that were about 1 3/8 in. square by 18 in. long. Glue the pieces using Titebond II or another FDA-approved glue, and then dimension the whole blank to about 1 1/4 in thick by 11 in. wide. Square the ends on a tablesaw using a crosscut sled, and cutting the whole thing down to about 16 1/4 in. long.

    For more information on how to make a cutting board blank, be sure to read our post on building an Edge Grain Cutting Board

    How to Make

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Create the Finger Slot First: I used a 3/8-in. radius, core box bit mounted in a router table. Raise the bit about 1/4-in. in height and adjust the fence so the bit is centered on the ends of the blank. Use cutoffs from your cutting board blank to test whether it's centered properly. For safety, use a tall fence and push pad to brace the workpiece as you cut clear across both ends.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Rotate and Cut Again: Now rotate the piece end-for-end, keeping the same face riding against the fence. That way, if it's not quite centered, it will be off by the same amount on both ends.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Trace an Arc: Next, use a template to outline the arcs for either end of the cutting board. Place the template atop the blank, using a pair of center lines to align the curve on both sides. Now just trace the arc with a pencil.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Cut Your Profile: Now head to the bandsaw to cut out the template, staying just to the waste side of the line to leave a thin pencil mark. You could use a jigsaw for this procedure if you don't own a bandsaw.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Fair Out the Profile: At the belt sander, use 80-grit paper to sand the ends and fare the curve, using the pencil lines as your guide.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Smooth Out the Thumb Profiles: With the ends cleaned up, head over to the workbench and wrap a piece of 100-grit sandpaper around a dowel. use it to sand the inside of the finger slot.

    Create the Finger Slot Firstclick to enlarge

    Smooth Out the End Grain: Now sand the rest of the cutting board ends up to 320-grit, using a sanding block for a nice smooth finish.