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Creating a pepper mill with live edge?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Daniel Miller, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    Location (City & State):
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    Hey all. I've got a large 2" thick walnut slab (see attached pic) that I'm turning into a couple of meat boards for a customer. They really like the live edge look of the wood. They also said that they wanted a matching walnut pepper mill to go with it. After confirming the sizes of the boards, there is a portion of the bottom right (in the picture) of the slab that is going to be removed, around 8 inches or so. My thought was to incorporate this into a pepper mill. The first issue I have is the thickness. Because the slab is only about 2" thick, I'm going to have to laminate at least one piece but likely two pieces of board onto the piece to get my 3" x 3" stock - I know you generally only need 2-1/2" but I like having some wiggle room.

    I want to keep as much of the bark included in the final pepper mill as possible. I have done a pepper mill before that had bark in it, though most of the bark ended up getting removed during the turn. It still ended up looking really nice and unique but again, my goal is to include as much of the bark as possible. This may be hard to explain and understand... My thoughts were to laminate a 1/2" stock on either side of the walnut piece. Then, if I use a protractor and kind of offset the center point, if you look at the square stock from the top down and orient the bark side as the "top", if the top of the "circle" from the protractor meets near the outer and mid portion of the bark, then as the stock is spinning on the lathe it would sort of function like an off-center turning and the bark would never be hit. The only other issue here that I can see would be an awkward corner where the glued laminated pieces meet up against where the bark is. See green sticky note picture for an explanation of what I mean. If I drop the center point down, I may remove that corner but I'll also be cutting into the bark. I thought about cutting a 45-degree angle into the wood where it meets the bark so that there isn't an awkward corner. At the end of the day, I'm just wondering if anyone else has attempted this and if so what your method was. Thanks!

    20200815_110637.jpg


    20200817_163329.jpg
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Two things to consider.

    1. the bark may not hold up well under use. I remove bark from NE bowls to let them be used functionally.

    2. Add the through hole for the pepper and mechanism. I would want at least 3/16” of wood between the hole and the bark.
     
  3. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    Thank you for the comment! When I'm determining the center-point of the mechanism I'll see where the 3/16" mark holds up. In general, I remove move of the bark as necessary to keep all the crumbly bits off of my charcuterie boards and other items, but this particular client loves the look of the bark. I've considered dousing the exterior in CA glue to hold the bark to the mill. I don't anticipate them using this pepper mill as a primary grinder but more for decoration - the slabs themselves are intended to be presentation boards for steaks and I'm imagine that the pepper mill would be used as part of a photo op.
     
  4. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    per #2 If the metal knob type were to be used you would need to cut an access down through the bark. There is a type that has the adjustment in the bottom and the top piece is just the crank handle.
     
  5. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    I probably should have posted this in the original comment... I'm doing one of the combo salt and pepper mills where the head is a salt shaker.
     
  6. Richard Hodsdon

    Richard Hodsdon

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    Location (City & State):
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    If you have a look at Piet Smiths website , there are some natural edge pepper-mills. https://www.peppermills.co.za/ they are however for the Crushgrind mechanism but may give you some hints
     
    Daniel Miller likes this.
  7. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    I saw a couple of his that mirrored a pepper mill that I did for my in-laws that featured some live edge, where the crumbly bark is removed and the solid under layers remain. The way I'm wanting to do this one is to keep the bark as much as possible. I think I'm going to try and use super glue to secure it all together and hopefully keep the majority of the bark from coming off.
     
  8. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    The ones in this website would work due to the way they are made form the full round of a small tree or branch, however that seams different from a natural edge. The diagram submitted with the start of this thread makes it look like bark on the top, but of course that would be problematic for a combo or any type with a knob on top.
     
  9. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    I see what you're saying. In the picture of the slab, in the bottom right portion of the corner where you're seeing the sides of the slab, a portion of that is what is going to be turned into the pepper mill. The bark won't be on the literal top portion of the pepper mill - it's going to be running along the "side" of the pepper mill from the bottom of it all the way to the top grinder portion. From the listed website, the pepper mill that is second from the right in this picture https://www.peppermills.co.za/?lightbox=image_r81 is what it will look like, but instead of grinding off the bark I'm going to leave it on. The diagram post-it note picture was just a reference for where I was envisioning the "center" of the holes to be before I got to the point of drilling out the centers for the general cavity and the mechanism rod. I referred to the bark as being at the "top" just so that it would hopefully be easier to visualize what I was describing. The point of my post was asking people's opinions of the concept of essentially turning the blanks off-center so that the bark wouldn't be rounded off. I haven't really received any consensus that what I'm planning wouldn't be the way to go about doing this, so I'm thinking that it is what I'm going to try.

    I'll add some pictures here when I actually get it turned and hopefully it all won't literally blow up in my face!
     
    Richard Hodsdon likes this.
  10. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    Here are the final pictures of the live edge pepper mill with a before and after shot. As you can see, Bertha had to stay fairly wide to keep as much of the live edge as possible. Trying to keep a minimum of solid wood wall where the shaft would be was also a challenge with trying to limit the heft of the pepper mill while also keeping the live edge. I coated all of the live edge in CA glue to try and minimize damage to it from usage as well. If a bear attacked your BBQ, you could probably defend yourself with this pepper mill is all I'm saying! I've also included a picture of the final serving board that the pepper mill wood came from.

    walnut serving board.jpg 20200826_193014.jpg 20200830_212348.jpg 20200830_212335.jpg
     
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