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Spindle Turning A Peppermill

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From: Book: Learn To Turn

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Tools and Supplies:
• Roughing gouge
• Spindlemaster or skew
• Parting tool
• Wood of choice (curly sapele 3" x 3" x 11" long)
• Sanding material
• Peppermill kit (10")
• Four-jawed chuck and cone center
• Jacobs Chuck
• Thin-bladed back saw
• Forstner bits, 1/2 ", 1", 15/8"
• Salad bowl finish
• Lathe (speed set to 500 to 2000 rpm)
• Tailstock with a cone center

A peppermill is a useful and sensible kitchen utensil that everyone can use, and a handmade peppermill is an especially nice gift. Peppermills are easy and fun to make. The shape of a peppermill is as varied as the imagination of the maker of the piece. When designing a peppermill, roughly 70 percent should be the general length of the body, and the top should be no more than 30 percent of the overall length. Peppermill grinding mechanisms are generally 6", 8", 10", and 12" in length, and, when choosing a mechanism, an additional 1" to 2" in length of wood is necessary to turn the piece.
Another thought to keep in mind when choosing a peppermill kit is the length of the grinding mechanism. It is difficult to turn a 12" grinding mechanism on a mini-lathe when you are restricted to an overall length of 14" between centers.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Reduce the 3" x 12" square stock to a cylinder using a roughing gouge; the surface should be flat. A replaceable-tip tool, such as the New Edge 1/2" round scraper, will work also.
Use a parting tool to square both ends of the cylinder. You should get clean shavings from your parting tool, as illustrated.
Lay out the body and the top of the peppermill using a 70% (body) to 30% (top) rule.
Cut the cylinder using a thin parting tool. Cut down to about 5/8", being careful not to cut all the way through the cylinder. If you try to do this, the parting tool will bind up, and it will cause you extreme anxiety..
Finish cutting the piece into two sections with a thin-bladed back saw. Do not attempt to cut the piece with the lathe running!
Mount the lower portion of the body in a four-jawed chuck and, using a Jacobs Chuck with a 15/8" Forstner bit, drill a hole 3/8" deep into the
bottom of the body to hold the grinder mechanism.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.
Now install a drill bit 1" in diameter and drill at least one-half of the length of the body. Then, turn the body around and mount it into the four-jawed chuck and drill the other half. If you try to drill the entire length, the drill bit will “wander” from center due to the grain of the wood.
Take the body of the peppermill out of the four-jawed chuck and reverse it again so the bottom of the mill is facing the tailstock that has been fitted with a cone center.
Use a skew or a Spindlemaster to generally shape your peppermill and add a bead or two on the bottom of the mill. Remove this from the lathe and set it aside for now.
Mount the top into the four-jawed chuck and drill a 1/4" hole about halfway into the one end and again reverse the top and drill the other half of the 1/4 " hole in the top. This will ensure that the hole is centered in the top.
Turn a 1" spigot into the top end cap. Use the top half of the body of the
peppermill as a guide to ensure a snug fit between the top and bottom
sections of the peppermill.
Place the two halves together and measure where the 10" will fall on
the top portion of the peppermill. At this time, turn the top portion
of the mill to the desired shape and length—remember, nothing too
fancy, just keep it simple.

This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.

Place the top into the four-jawed chuck and refine the shape as necessary.
Use a 1/8" Forstner bit to drill the top to a depth of 1/8" to accommodate the top nut on the grinding mechanism to recess into the top.
Finish the peppermill with a few coats of salad bowl finish and allow it to dry. Line up all of the pieces according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pre-drill the holes for the screws that hold the mechanism in place to avoid splitting the wood (inset).
This article is excerpted from Learn To Turn by Barry Gross. Click here to purchase this book.