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Finishing Pepper Mills

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Karl Ziegler, May 5, 2004.

  1. Karl Ziegler

    Karl Ziegler

    Apr 29, 2004
    I am about to make my first set of pepper mills. I am going to use birds eye maple for the wood for both the salt shaker, and the pepper mill. What I would like to know is do I need to put any finish on the inside of the mill, or can I leave that unfinished?

    Also, what kind of finish is best for the exterior. Do I need a food safe finish, or can I get by with wax, or tongue oil.
  2. Whit


    Apr 27, 2004
    Traverse City, MI

    On the salt and pepper mills I've made, I didn't put any finish on the inside. I chose to spray the outside with urethane varnish, matte finish, I think. I chose the urethane for its durability. These things tend to be in daily use with little or no maintainance. As far as food safe, practically any finish will be food safe when it is completely cured. All of the volatiles will be gone. I would think that a wax only finish applied to a really well sanded piece (600 or 800 grit) would also be fine but, as I said, I like the durability of urethan varnish. Incidently, I use Ace Hardware brand. From what I can see it's every bit as good as the "premium" brands, but a fair bit cheaper. I made the mills we are using about a year and a half ago and they look just as good today as they did then. They occassionally get wiped down with a damp cloth or sponge. Hope this is of help.

  3. Chris Wright

    Chris Wright

    Apr 9, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    Burnished Walnut Oil


    I have good success burnishing in walnut oil on my items I want to be food safe. Because it's not a vegetable based oil, it doesn't go rancid, due to it's nature it resists food stains and it's a cooking oil, so it's food safe out of the bottle. And, it's pretty cheap.

    What I do is sand to 1000, put a heavy coat of walnut oil on with a paper towel and wipe away the excess after letting it soak for a few minutes. I then use a new paper towel to burnish in the oil with the lathe running at med. speed. I do this until the piece doesn't "feel" oily any more. Since it would be hard to burnish the insides, you could apply the oil with light coats and let sit for a few days so it would soak in/evaporate.
  4. Andrew


    Apr 28, 2004
    Southwest Missouri
    Home Page:
    I don't coat the insides of my mills if I'm not going to just dip them into a finish to begin with. If I'm going to dip them then the inside gets coated too. For these, I make sure to wait a long time before I send these off to be sold as *I* want to be sure that they are fully cured before they get into consumers' hands.

    This is with most woods. However, if I'm using something that I think is going to be flakey (dusty, crumbly) on the inside or has a strong odor, color or potential taste, then I'll finish the insides too. For me, this doesn't happen much at all. Don't use a wax or friction polish (at least not the shellac... a wax... based product) as the contents will tend to stick over time. I also don't finish the parts that are going to rub together (tops to bottoms).

    On the outside, you want something that is going to stand up to use. No big need for actual foodsafe finish here. A film building finish like a urethane or lacquer is going to work fine. Maybe a wax buffing on the outside so it'll sell better. :D

    - Andrew

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