Richard White has always had an interest in woodworking, but a career in financial planning kept him from pursuing his interest until about six years ago.
“I was talking to one of my friends in North Carolina and he said, ‘You need to make cutting boards,’” White said. “I went on the Internet and thought it looked like fun, so I just got started out real slow, and I’m still slow.”
He was working in the natural meat market when he began his hobby of woodworking, and four years ago, he started making mostly cutting boards. His company is called Cutting Boards by ROW.
“I make five to seven at a time,” he said. “I would guess each board probably takes about an hour to an hour and a half to make.”
The wood he uses to make his cutting boards makes them unique.
“I use both domestic and foreign woods,” White said. “I use Bloodwood, Yellow Heart, Amazon Rosewood, Purple Heart and Brazilian Ebony.”
Along with the foreign wood, White uses domestic Black Walnut, White Oak, Hard Maple and Cherry.
“I just did a lot of research on the Internet and saw what people were using and I said, ‘I’ve never heard of that, where did you get that?’” he said. “I found a place in south Little Rock that sells exotic woods.”
White said the work he does isn’t cheap.
“This wood costs me anywhere from $15 to $20 a board foot. A board foot is 12 inches wide and 12 inches long,” he said.
He’s been busy during the holiday season because people purchased cutting boards as Christmas gifts, he said.
“My inventory is down right now because of Christmas,” he said.
White uses a mathematical concept called the “Golden Triangle” to build most of his boards.
After deciding what kind of board to make, White uses the Golden Triangle — according to which the width of the board must be 61 percent of the length of the board.
“[The Greeks] found that this was the most pleasing to the eye,” he said. “If I decide to make a board 16 inches long, if I want to make it the Golden Triangle, then it’s going to be 10 inches wide.”
White said the shortest cutting board he makes is nine inches long. He chooses the wood for the boards and then goes on with the construction process.
“If I have seven different woods I want to put in there, I have to figure out how wide the strips need to be,” White said.
He figures out the strips he needs to get the width of the board, and glues the strips together and leaves them for at least 12 hours.
“After that, I run them through the planer,” White said.
The planer smooths out and evens up the top and bottom of the board, but it leaves the ends uneven. He then moves to a miter saw, where he cuts off the ends so they are all even.
“This wood is expensive, so I hate to throw anything away,” White said.
When he evens up the ends of his cutting boards, he keeps the strips from the uneven ends to use for patchwork boards.
“There’s very little planning that goes into these,” he said. “Unless I’ve got something that’s a special order.”
White has made cutting boards in various shapes — including the state of Arkansas and a razorback, among others.
“I made an Arkansas Razorback with a real hog’s tusk,” he said.
White doesn’t use any stain on his cutting boards.
“There’s no stain whatsoever. If you feel it, it almost feels like there’s something on the surface,” he said. “After I get through [in the shop], I take the boards home, and I put my logo in it and mix two tablespoons of natural beeswax, along with a pint of mineral oil and coat it.”
He leaves the beeswax and mineral oil on the boards overnight, and wipes it off to reveal a brilliant array of colors.
More information about Cutting Boards by ROW is available on White’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cutting-Boards-by-ROW.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.