Distraction Du Jour

I’ve been making a list (and checking it twice) of Christmas gift projects I want to do.  I had a couple of hours last night so I thought I’d try turning a pepper grinder.

Generally I’m not a big fan of “kit projects”, but this seemed like it would make a good gift so I picked up a stainless grinder mechanism at Woodcraft a while back.  I had a block of Claro Walnut kicking around, so I thought I’d give it a whirl (opps, pun).

Caveat: I’m no “turner”.  I’m totally making this up as I go.  I can count the number of wood turning projects I’ve done on one hand and have fingers left over for other things.

First off, I mounted the blank between centers and started roughing it with a gouge.

Roughing Out

Roughing Out

That wasn’t too bad.  If I work just a small area at a time it’s controllable.

Round, Mostly

Round, Mostly

Then I marked out the sections for the base and lid, and turned “tenons” to grab in the chuck.

Defining Main Sections

Defining Main Sections

Then I bored the hole through the middle of the body.  That was a pain in the neck.  A giant pain in the neck.  My lathe isn’t adequate to do this (it was only $75 though, I’m certainly not complaining), so I had to use my drill press.  Forstner bits are not ideal for deep holes, the chips quickly get jammed behind the bit.  I didn’t have a good way to clamp the blank, and the travel on my drill press isn’t enough to drill the entire hole without re-positioning the table.  Yikes.  If I ever do one of these again I need to have a better way to bore the center out.  And of course the hole ends up being slightly off center.

I made a tapered plug to hold the center.  I should have made the taper more gradual, it was too steep and didn’t register in the hole as accurately as it should have, which meant that even after turning the body the hole is still slightly off center.  This kind of thing really bugs me.

Taper Plug for Tailstock Center

The rest of the process is just trying to turn it to an attractive shape.  I had a different shape in mind honestly, but because of some tear out and other problems I had to adjust my plan along the way.  I know I’m the only guy that happens to.

Base Complete

Base Complete

I wiped on a coat of “Tried and True” and left it to dry.  I’ll put a couple of coats on over the next few days, then mount the mechanism inside.  Overall, it’s “OK”.  I give it a C+ or maybe a B- if we’re grading on a curve.

One Coat of Finish, Nearly Done

One Coat of Finish, Nearly Done

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Distraction Du Jour

  1. I bought four kits several years ago to make these for the holidays, and never got around to it.

    You’re right though, even on a bigger lathe the center boring is a giant pain in the butt. Your cutting end grain, and it’s just tough to do, especially really deep like.

    Nice first attempt.

    • I watched several youtube videos on the process, it seems like the best results came from boring in the lathe using a steady rest.

      The advance mechanism on my tailstock only has about 1.5″ of travel. And it’s a MT #1, so it’s not very rigid. I don’t have a steady rest, but I could make one easily enough…but I’m still stuck with the tailstock limits.

      Any thoughts on how you would approach this? Open to suggestions…

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