During our next Food+Design assignment, we were to make a unique Vessel or utensil for Thanksgiving. I thought this was an interesting take on the class direction, as traditionally we have created some form of food/product, but I still definitely was looking forward to it. On the first day that this was announced, we were put into groups with the people around us to brainstorm on post-it notes with any ideas that may come to mind that relate to Thanksgiving dinner. In my group, I came up with these initial ideas as seen below.
My favorite ideas that I wanted to work with was the Cutting board idea and the twist tool. The cutting board idea was a cutting board with a compartment built in to store a chef knife. The twist tool was used to mix up the stuffing and other ingredients inside of a turkey. With this initial idea generation, I started looking through my kitchen at various items that resembled the cutting board as well as this twist tool. I found a lemon juicer item in my kitchen as seen here, and it was a good prototype of my initial thoughts.
As for cutting boards, I found a few plastic ones in my kitchen to see what I could do. I then proceeded to sketch some alternative versions on post-it notes at home to see if I could generate some new innovations/alterations to the cutting board idea.
As you can see, some of these sketches had food drips, some have the knife slots, and another one has handles on the side of the cutting board. At this point, I started seeing what I had around the house to make a few prototypes for the cutting board/food boards.
(Knife on top)
(Knife on side)
(Board with handle)
With this initial iterations, I used cardboard boxes around the house, a chef knife to use as a prop, and a water bottle to serve as a 'handle' to get a feel for what it may look like. What I learned was that the cutting board would have to be really large if I wanted to create some sort of compartment in the actual cutting board itself to be able to store the knife in, and I realized that I didn't think an oversized cutting board would be too good of an idea because it would be too heavy and would defeat the purpose of potentially being easy to transport. I started doing a few more sketches and reiterated some of the board ideas from before with the moats for different items on the board. I thought that it would be beneficial to use for some sauces or dipping pieces if I were to change it from a cutting board to a food-type plating. I made another sketch and came up with this idea.
With this idea, I would use a smaller piece of wood/board because I would not need all of the space to store a knife. The moat in the board could be used for sauce or butter. I then thought that I could use the board similar to a breadboard and the moat could be used to store butter. At this point, I decided to create a few more prototypes to see what I could do.
(board with butter near handle)
(Board with butter at end of board)
(Board with wooden handle and hole for moat)
(Board with rounded handle and hole for moat, butter prop)
With all of these prototypes, I used foam, cardboard, scrap wooden planks, a water bottle, and a stick of butter to test out the fit. I was beginning to like how the butter was fitting on the board, particularly the last prototype with the rounded handle. I decided I would start moving forward with this idea and bring it to the woodshop to see what I could do.
The next day, I went to Rockler to buy some wood. I consulted with an employee there, and he recommended me to using maple for wooden boards, as it is a dense wood that is traditionally used for cutting/food boards. I purchased a four foot piece of maple in case I needed to do more iterations in the woodshop.
Next I proceeded to the woodshop to try and create my board. I began my sketching on my long wooden board a nice rounded shape for the board. I decided to curve the handle to make it a bit more ergonomic down the road. Here is how my sketch ended up on my board.
After sketching it out, I used the table saw to shorten my board and eventually moved to the band saw to start cutting out the shape around the handle.
I picked up my wooden board, and I felt the weight in my hand. The board was a lot lighter than when it was four feet long, but still had a significant weight to it. I talked to one of the woodshop employees, Justin, and he told me to use a table sander. It was this mechanism that could sand off 1/16" for every time I 'fed' my board into the machine evenly. The sander would 'eat' my board and I would lover it one more rotation to take off 1/16" at a time.
My board started off about 1 1/16" thick and I fed it through about 6 times. At this point, it was thinned out enough to take off a good portion of the weight while still feeling sturdy.
(Original board thickness)
(New thickness, about 11/16" thick, I didn't start my ruler at 0" in the picture)
(Side view; comparison of thickness of new board vs. original board thickness)
As you can see, the board lost a significant amount of its thickness, but was still sturdy. My next task was to sand the edge of the handles and board with a horizonal sander. I went from left to right on the handle against the grain of the handle until it had a nice curvature across the entire handle. I also made sure the board had rounded corners that could be finished later. A few times during this process, I burned the wood because the sander moved really quickly.
After this step, I found a tool that would make the edges rounded and have a nice curve to them. The bit at the end of it was a half-circle and cut a nice curvature along the edges as seen here.
Once I rounded both the front and back side of the food board, I needed to proceed to create the 'moat' for butter as seen in the prototypes. I figured that this board could be used for loaves of bread and butter, or cheeses to pair with crackers etc. I used a tool called a 'router' and started etching into the lines. This part was the most difficult, as it took me a couple of hours to figure the entire process out. This first picture shows the huge burnt crater I made.
I decided to clamp some boards down to act as a wall in order for me to use the 'router' to create a plate-like surface. The bit at the end of the router was vicious and took away a lot of wood in a very short period of time. After persisting at using the router, I eventually got from the crater to this point.
At this point, I used a Dremel tool to round out some of the edges of the 'moat' and to take off some of the excess wood. After this point, I needed to sand the entire piece. I used a small disc sander to sand the 'moat' as seen in the picture above. I spend about 1.5 hours doing this, and it eventually smoothed out all the rough spots from the router and Dremel tool. I used two different grades of sand paper and eventually got the 'moat' nice and smooth. I proceeded to use hand sandpaper of varying grades on the rest of the board and smoothed out all of the remaining rough edges. There were a few areas near the handle that needed a bit more work, and eventually I completed the entire sanding process.
After this, all that was needed was a nice finishing coat. I applied a nice layer of mineral oil+beeswax substance as seen in the picture below. I let it sit for about an hour and wiped off the remaining excess parts. I think because my wood started out really light that the oil did not soak in and darken the board as much.
After this, I had a pretty much complete product. In terms of functionality, I believe the board would be best used to serve small loaves of bread or dinner rolls with different spreads that could fit in the moat. The initial prototypes used butter, which fit perfectly in the moat. I thought about it more and I think that even liquid dips could be placed in the moat as it is relatively deep. Using cheeses or other liquid substances could be effective with the design of the breadboard. The ergonomics of the curved handle is nice and it feels like a chef knife. Throughout this entire process, I really enjoyed learning about the different iterations for tools/vessels that could potentially be used for Thanksgiving. As per usual, this is my finished product below.