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Thread: The Volcano Under

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Orem, Utah

    The Volcano Under

    ... with apologies to Bill Lantry's old "Under the volcano" post.

    I haven't been around for a while, so forgive me if this sort of project has already been discussed. So as not to keep you guessing ... it's a salt shaker! ()

    In case you haven't seen one of these before, here's the sketch that I made before I started working any wood. (Please excuse the extra curves on the surface of the "Volcano" ... I changed my mind a couple of times.)

    To fill the shaker, you turn it upside-down and pour some salt into the "Funnel", a little bit at a time. With a little encouragement, the salt will fall down the hole and into the "Hollow". When not in use, the shaker sits upright as shown.

    To use the shaker, you simply hold it (still upright) over the target and shake it straight up-and-down. With each shake, some of the salt lands in the "Divot" at the top of the "Volcano" and comes out the hole in the bottom of the shaker.

    Clever, eh? I wish I could say that it was my idea. (More on that later.)


    I made this shaker from a single block of wood. I made it in three pieces as a "proof of concept" ... I eventually want to make a salt shaker with a light-dark-light color sequence, and a "matching" pepper shaker with a dark-light-dark sequence. But it could be made (more easily) out of two pieces. So ... for the pictures below, just pretend that the "Cap" and "Body" are the same piece of wood.

    First, I roughed out the Cap/Body piece. Then, I marked the final inner and outer diameters on the bottom and hollowed out the inside. I took care to make the sides of the hollow (nearest the entrance) parallel with the ways of the lathe. That was so I would have a good fit (and glueing surface) later.

    Next, I switched chucks (so I wouldn't have to remove the Cap/Body and risk remounting it off-center later) and turned the "Volcano". The first thing I did was drill a 1/8" hole through the piece. As I turned the Volcano shape, I kept test-fitting the Cap/Body (which was still in the first chuck) to make sure that I got the diameter of the base of the Volcano right. There's nothing super-magical about the curve of the Volcano itself ... the idea is to provide as much space as possible for salt storage. Finally, I used the long point of a skew to create the "Divot" at the top of the Volcano.

    With the Volcano complete, I parted it off and and glued it into the Cap/Body piece. In retrospect, I should have taped it instead....

    ...because I hadn't fashioned the "Funnel" yet. It was no problem to gouge out the rough shape of the "Funnel", but I didn't want to do any sanding with the hole uncovered. And with the hole covered, I couldn't sand the Funnel as well as I wanted to. If I had taped the Volcano piece in place, I could have twisted it apart after sanding and cleaned everything out one last time before proceeding. Oh well ... maybe next time!

    Once the bottom of the shaker was done, I still had to finish the top. I parted it most of the way through but, as you know, parting tools don't tend to leave a great finish. The best idea I could come up with was to make a jam chuck and stuff the shaker in bottom-first. I sanded it down to something like 4000 grit, so it was nice and smooth. (OK, OK ... overkill. )

    I decided not to use any finish on the shaker ... especially not on the inside. Shellac is supposed to be food-safe, so maybe I'll try something like that on the outside next time.

    After taking a couple pictures of the shaker, I took it down the block and gave it to the man whose downed tree I had made it from. It was fun to watch him (and later his wife) try to figure out what it was!

    BTW, the wood I used was White Willow, which is a little too soft for this application. (Did you notice the torn grain in the Hollow?)


    I mentioned that this "volcano shaker" wasn't my idea. The presenter at my woodturning club's July meeting (Stuart Davey) [showed how to make them]. Of course, he had gotten the idea from earlier demos by other people. However, Stuart made his shakers a little differently than this one.

    First, his "Volcano" didn't have a shoulder at the bottom. As a result, you don't have to (or get to?) see the insert from the side when the shaker is sitting upright. But another result is that it's hard to fit the Volcano into the Hollow. When you know that you have it sized just right (because you inserted it all the way into the recess, right?) then you can't grab it to pull it back out and apply the glue! But never fear; Stuart had a neat-o way to get the Volcano back out. He took a bicycle pump with an inflater needle attached, inserted it into the bottom of the Volcano, and executed a single plunge on the pump. Pop! Out it came!

    Secondly, Stuart got more creative when it came to shaping the outside of the shaker. Your imagination is the limit, of course ... I just went with a "Contemporary" design. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
    Last edited by Kerry Burton; 11-04-2008 at 03:23 PM. Reason: Updated link to Stuart Davey's demo page

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Hey Kerry, good to see you drop in. Been wondering where you were.

    I really like the volcano idea. I haven't seen anything like it before. Great job, and thanks for sharing the pics.

    Don't be a stranger, you hear?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Welcome back Kerry, good to hear from you! Great looking shaker there. Keep them coming!
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Orem, Utah
    Thanks for the comments, guys.

    Stu, have you been sucked completely into "bowl land" or something? Once upon a time, a spindle project like this would have found you cranking them out as gifts for family members, wood lot workers, liquor store customers, people on the street....

    Maybe the Japanese don't "do" salt?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    Kerry nice to see ya back. That is a good looking piece. I like the burnt lines. Really sets it off.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Orem, Utah
    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Weishapl View Post
    I like the burnt lines. Really sets it off.
    Thanks Bernie! Those lines also help to hide the not-so-good joins between the 3 pieces of wood.

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