Over-Stove Nesting Chopping Boards

A set of boards to go over our gas stove top when we need some serious bench space. My wife has been asking me for these for a year so it was about time I put this project to the top of my list.

The brief was to make something that would bridge over the stove burners, and then stack away neatly when not in use so you can still access the stove. I’d seen a two piece design online, but no three piece as I wanted, so no clues on how I might stack these all up. After mucking about with some way too complex solutions, I settled on a pretty simple and somewhat novel solution . Each board would stack on top of another with cut outs in the lower boards to allow the upper boards legs to nest.

The finished boards in action showing how they un-stack to create extra kitchen bench space

I started with some new dressed hardwood  (Tas oak / Vic ash from my local hardware place) and a small amount of scrap from an old project. The basics of this are pretty simple really. A bunch of 600mm long pieces cut to make up 3 boards of 300mm width. Unlike other projects, this time I took some care in preparing the edges for gluing. Using my big No. 6 hand plane I got them as flat and square as I could. Not perfect but much better than this dressed timber comes. Doing this makes joining the boards easier and should make for stronger joints. 

This no. 6 plane is a bit of a beast, but the larger size makes it decent for preparing boards like this.

Biscuit cuts are my main stay for panel contruction. While perhaps not needed with a decent enough glue, biscuits make me feel much more confident about the joints’ longevity. They also make the glue up process a bit easier is some respects as the biscuits lock the boards into position while you muck  about with clamps. So anyway I threw a couple of biscuits into each joint and slowly added boards, gluing up a few at a time.

Quick cutting of biscuits slots then a simple glue up. Using a water resistant PVA wood glue.
Progressive glue up using the clamps to squeeze each board tight. Final clamping includes top/bottom braces to keep it extra flat

On a side note, one of these days I’ll do a proper experiment on biscuit strength. My suspicion is that while glue may be “stonger” than the timber so I’m told, I think it’s not tougher. That is, the joint may fracture on the glue line under impact loading, as it has done for me once or twice, and having a biscuit might in effect add some toughness into the joint. I had an offcut laying around so just to show you what I mean I put it in the vice and gave it a good knock. It failed starting right at the glue line for a few mm before the crack progressed into the board with the coarser grain. Now yes I’m sure there may be stronger glues, but I didn’t use rubbish. This was a higher strength waterproof PVA and well prepared edges. I think I’ll stick with using biscuits for now 🙂

My quick demonstration showing this little piece failed on the glue line. I struck the piece front the top right end as pictured.

OK back from that little diversion… I took to the boards with a smoothing plane before going any further. This dealt with the fact that my boards weren’t all the same thickness to start with (no I don’t have a thicknesser).

Some nice tissue paper thin shavings from my freshly sharpened smoothing plane

Each panel got squared up on the table saw using the cross-cut sled, then I cut out all of the needed supports/legs. Each of the three boards gets a unique combination of legs and cut outs (cut outs to come later) to allow them to stack. 

Squaring up the panels and trimming down to final size
(Upper) Cutting out the legs, 6 50mm and 2 100 lengths, both 45mm high. (Lower) not attached but legs put roughly in position

I braved dowels to secure the legs. “Braved” because I’ve stuffed up dowels before on other projects doing them freehand with a hand drill (before I bought a drill press). With the drill press and a bradpoint drill bit I needn’t have stressed. Easy peasy.

Drilling the dowel holes then a test fit before gluing. Lined up beautifully.

The cutouts came next, and after some contemplations I decided on roughing out with a jig saw and finishing on the table saw to get the final cuts nice and square.

This worked a treat. In sure the table saw image looks a bit sketchy for safety, but I was only taking about 1mm deep cuts so very easy to control safely.

A good sanding followed by a decent soaking in tung oil finished up this project. The tung oil seems to be a really good product to use, food safe and plant based. Although the one draw back is it really seems to needs a long time to cure fully. Over a few days I gave it a couple of coats to let it soak in nicely, and followed up with a oil and beeswax paste.

Finished boards. Nice little trio. The oil based finish shows off the natural variation of this timber.

The boards just sit side by side when in use, without any sort of attachment between them. Seems to be good enough with just the weight of them to stop them sliding about. Then when not in use they stack up pretty neatly staying over just one third of the stove top, which is clear enough for most of the time. You might notice that two of the boards have a centre leg on one side, making them have a tripod support. That’s actually quite stable even with pressure out near the edges as that centre leg is wide enough. 

Pitty our kitchen is a bit dated in style as these boards are looking great. Still I’m very happy I could get this done for my wife and each little project slowly adds to our home in function or aesthetics  


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