Philip Hendrix’s cutting board: Celebrating the ten year anniversary of the Eliot House Woodworking Program

Own of our best students at the Eliot House Woodshop was Philip Hendrix. Philip was a graduate student in computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering who demonstrated real passion, not just for computer code but also for chisels and routers. One of his best projects was a real work of "poetry". 

The project was a cutting board, but not a regular one. It was meant as a present for his fiancee, symbolizing their future union. Philip got a piece of Claro walnut from the his future father-in-law. It was a short slab, a leftover cut from an old tree that stood in the family's garden and had to be cut down because of disease. The idea to make it into a cutting board or a display board was fantastic. The slab had depression or a gorge made by a  chain saw. The plan was to place some wood "beams" over it to strengthen it by bridging over the gorge and allowing for the length to be used. Over the beam's "bridge", for instance, a loaf of bread could be sliced. Philip chose to bring from his parents' ranch, near Austin Texas, some mesquite. He milled it and made several short sticks, then he embedded them in grooves that he routed. Marring together wood from the homes of both him and his future wife was Philip's way to materialize the bond between them.  I think that this was a very strong personal allegory.

Here is how he built the board step by step:

1. This is the calro board and one of the mesquite strips.

2. Routing the grooves for the strips:

3. After routing came the shaping of the board's edges with a gouge.

At the end of the academic year we placed Philip's board in the students' show at our grand library. 

This was indeed a great project! Next time I will show another project by Philip: a beer bottle stand.

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Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.