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Thread: Peppermill

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Puyallup, WA
    Posts
    330

    Peppermill

    Dumb 'ol me started making xmas gifts for my staff and a few select friends a couple of years back and now there's an expectation that this tradition will continue. Towards that end, I'm would like to ask the collective wisdom of the board about the practicality of making approximately 20 peppermill grinders for gifts this year.

    Do they take a lot of time to make? Is the level of difficulty very high? How tight are the tolerances? Do the commonly available mechanisms work well? Do you have a preferred vendor? How about type? Any good books or DVDs that you'd recommend? Does the type of wood make any difference?

    Admittedly my turning skills are very low. In the past, I've made a number of pens and a few small bowls and other trinkets.

    For what it's worth, here's what tools I presently own:
    • Jet mini lathe
    • Tormek and Wolverine Jigs for sharpening
    • Talon chuck, and
    • various turning tools.


    In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that in addition to coming up with this years gifts, I'm also hoping to stir my interest to get into turning again.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    30,008
    I've made a few pepper and salt mills, and they're not too tricky to do. There are a couple of sizes of Forstner bits that you'll need to make things easier, but if you've turned pens you can do pepper mills. I'd suggest doing the first one out of practice wood just to see how things fit, and which dimensions are critical, but after that, you should be able to knock them out en masse without too much trouble.

    I've only used the deluxe mill kits from Craft Supplies, but others can chime in about their favorites.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Reno, Nv
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    3,632
    I've done 30 or so, tolerances are important in the length. CSUSA kits are the only ones I use, and if I were to sit down and work it, start to finish would be about 3 hours
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
    4,351
    Peter,
    I make peppermills all the time, usually about 5 or 6 at a time.. I don't use the standard mechanisms though... while they look good and most people recognize them immediately as a pepper mill, I find that I'm somewhat measureably challenged and don't get the dimensions just right, plus the little bitty screws that have to go in them are a pain to work with... I use the crush grind ceramic mechanism and haven't had a complaint yet. I like them because you can adjust the shaft to fit whatever length you want... up to 10 inches... you can actually make a pepper mill 12 inches tall.

    The most time consuming part in my opinion is the drilling and the finishes... it takes about 30 minutes to drill a pepper mill... if you are using a mini lathe... that will be because you don't have but about 1 1/2 to 2 inches quill travel on the tail stock... and you can strip the quill spindle screw... BTDT a couple of times.... I now drill on my Jet 1442. If you have a large enough drill press you can use that to drill and probably take less time, but I don't and to me it much easier to drill on the lathe.

    The actual turning time is relatively quick... depending on how many beads and coves you put in...

    I finish with about 10 coats of a wipe on poly on my mills, so it takes a few days to complete the finish.

    If I can be of any help, info wise, drop me a PM... be glad to offer any knowledge I might have that would help.

    It's a great idea... your friends and family will enjoy and cherish a hand made peppermill from you for years to come.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Puyallup, WA
    Posts
    330
    I understand from Chuck's message that there may be assembly issues related to the standard mechanisms (are these the same as what Vaughn linked to?) but what about performance? Since this endeavor will be neither cheap in terms of materials or time, I don't want to end up with an inferior product. As Chuck said, ideally the receiver would be able to use the item for years to come.

    What size wood blank do you recommend? If I resort to glue ups, is it best to use contrasting woods to deal with the glue lines?

    Lastly, never being the most creative soul out there, can anyone recommend a book or other reference material I could use as a guide for determining the shape?

    Thanks to the generosity of my employer and the mandatory monthly furlough day they've implemented, I should be to complete the project by the deadline without too much trouble!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Reno, Nv
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    Don't worry to much about glue up Peter, I'll send you some pic's of Cherry, walnut and Purple heart that are single blank woods.
    http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/Projects___Pepper___Salt_Mills___Deluxe_Salt_Mill_ Mechanism___dlx_salt_mill?Args=
    The above link are the ones I use. Several have been in use...heavy use for 5 years and show no signs of getting tired. I use a Jet Mini and a Barracuda w/ a 4 jaw set, hate making jamb chucks, so I do 2 jaw changes and viola!!..done. Feel free to PM with any questions.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails purpleheart.jpg   Cherry.jpg   wanlut.jpg  
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Oliver Springs, TN
    Posts
    1,726
    On the create channel on my local comcast cable I get woodturning workshop with Tim Yoder. He is making a peppermill this weekend on the show. Here's the link http://www.createtv.com/CreateProgra...msByNola/WDWK#

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
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    Peter,
    I like to start with a 3 x 3 or close to square piece of wood from 10 to 12 inches long... when I do segments, I do alternate light and dark woods... try to make them fit as tight as possible..

    This is an example of one that I did...

    For examples, I sometimes go to my search engine, click on images, then look for pepper mills... you'll get a ton to look at... I don't have any books to recommend.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 34-814-2.JPG   34-814.JPG   34-814-3.JPG  
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    30,008
    Here are a few I've done, for more shape ideas...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've not run into any real problems drilling them, but Jim is right about the length being a key thing with the deluxe mill kits. Also, the little screws that hold the bottom plate in are a bit of a pain, but I've managed to always get 'er done. As far as quality of the kits, I've had no complaints, although a pepper grinder I made for my sister doesn't seem to have much adjustment between fine and coarse grinds. On that one, I suspect it's an assembly error, and not the fault of the kit.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Puyallup, WA
    Posts
    330
    Awesome advice everyone - I sincerely appreciate it. To start with, I think I'll order one of each type, the deluxe mill kit and the ceramic "crusher", to see which style I prefer (or perhaps, which one prefers me? ). I'll post my results when I get them done for constructive criticism (allowing for shipping, probably in a few weeks). In the meantime, I'll probably begin by scouring my wood stash for turning blanks.

    Thanks a lot - count me in as another satisfied "Family Woodworking" customer!

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