The Chopping Block That Doesn’t Give Deadlines

Cutting boards have stories. Sam Benbow is carving tales for future generations. Photo by Rimas Zailskas

One might think Sam Benbow deserves a break from wood. At his regular gig, he works as a kitchen and bath designer and contractor, creating custom hardwood cabinetry for clients throughout Western North Carolina. When the day is done, he crafts cutting boards from the scraps of those projects.

But Benbow says that making cutting boards is just the kind of break he needs. “It’s almost like therapy, as opposed to contracting,” he explains. “You have no client, no timetable, no dimensions you have to stick to — you can make whatever you want.”

Benbow started producing cutting boards to give away as gifts for friends and relatives. All of the recipients loved his work, so when he and his son wanted to raise some money for a family vacation, they figured that the boards would sell at seasonal markets and craft shows (they set up regularly at the North Asheville Tailgate Market). “The trip never materialized, but we kept making cutting boards,” says Benbow.

Photo by Kevin Meechan

All of Benbow’s materials come from area distributors such as Asheville’s Gennett Lumber Co. and are mainly sourced from local domestic hardwoods. He favors cherry and walnut for their rich colors, as well as oak and maple for their durability.

Those sturdy woods mean that one of Benbow’s boards can last for a lifetime — and beyond. “When I do shows, people come up and tell me stories about cutting boards they inherited from their father or grandfather,” he says. “I’ve made boards for 30 years now, and some of mine are just now starting to get passed down.”

Benbow & Associates, 372 Depot St., Suite 34, Asheville. For details, call 828-281-2700 or visit benbowassociates.co.

 

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