I have been wanting a lathe for some time.  The only problem is I need to get a table saw first so it’s not in the budget as of right now.  I had an idea to try and make my drill press act as a lathe.  This was also a challenge that a bunch of online woodworkers came up with.  The challenge was to build something from only your scrap wood.  Being I didn’t have a whole lot of scrap on hand at the time my project had to be fairly small.  I decided to make salt & pepper shakers.  The salt shaker from maple and the pepper shaker from walnut.  I began by selecting some pieces from my scrap wood.  The maple I had on hand wasn’t thick enough so I had to glue 3 pieces together to get the thickness I needed.

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The walnut was already thick enough so I took it over to the bandsaw and cut off the corners so I didn’t have to remove so much material making it easier to turn.


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Then took some bolts and on one of the ground the end of it to a point over at the belt sander.  I threaded a tee-nut on the other small bolt and used a nut to “jam” it into place on the end.  The you can cut off the head of that bolt.  The largest bolt I was going to tighten to the slot in my drill press table to act as a tool rest.


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I secured the pointed bolt into the center or the drill press table and it was going to act as a dead center for the bottom of the wood to spin on.  About 5 minutes into turning the dead center began to squeal.  I just sprayed on some aerosol lubricant and that eliminated the noise.


(ep26) salt and pepper scrap4On the top end of the wood blank I drilled a hole slightly larger than the sleeve of the tee-nut so that the prongs of the tee-nut could stick into the wood without the sleeve getting into the way.  I also tapped the tee-nut assembly into the end to get the prongs started.


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Then it was over to the lathe, I mean drill press, and tighten wood in between the table and the tee-nut assembly (which I had already chucked into the drill press).


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Then it was off to the races, well not exactly.  I no expert when it comes to lathe work, but I what I do know is that you need to take it slow and make really shallow cuts to establish the cylinder.  Once the whole piece is round then you can move a little faster.  But remember this is a drill press and don’t rush things either.


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Being I don’t own a lathe it is safe to assume I don’t own any lathe tools.  So in the absence of any gouges, scrapers or parting tools, I just used a 1/4″ chisel.  Why a 1/4″ chisel?  Because it is the only chisel I own.  And on another note, I made sure to sharpen the chisel right before I started turning the wood.  Keeping the flat side of the chisel into the turning and the beveled side away from the turning.


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This is what I ended up with after I cut the ends on the miter saw.  I also kept the blank longer than I would need so I could trim it to length later in the process.


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Then using 2 different size forstner bits I bored a 3/8″ deep hole to allow for the cork plug. Then I drilled a smaller hole the size of a wine bottle cork, to make up the cavity in which the salt or pepper would go.


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I measured the depth of the hole and added 1/4″ and cut off the excess on the bandsaw.


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Then you can cut the cork to a proper length with a sharp utility knife.


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After a few coats of spray lacquer on the outside only, they were ready to shake their way to the top of the spice food chain.  You can watch me build these shakers by clicking on the video below.





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2 Responses

  1. Dan W.

    Nick Ferry, I love it. Simple and effective. Nice clean cylinder for your first attempt. Nicely done.


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