Big Peppermills

The secrets to some of the biggest peppermills around


Step by step procedure

This woodturning project makes a unique gift or even a sale item for some restaurants, cafe's and other businesses. Many woodturners have made peppermills but they're usually under 12" while some are up to even 18" to 24" long.  Those are good sellers and great gifts.  But when you need something just a bit different, try scaling your next peppermill up a bit.  There are unique problems along with tricks and tips when going so big though.  I'll address some of these in this article.  This woodturned peppermill isn't the biggest in the world.  I have a couple of friends that have made 6' and 8' long ones!  But it's big enough to be visually striking and unique while still being able to fit into most places.  This article is what we'll call an "on-going series" article.  As the project progresses, I'll post updates so everybody can follow along.  Keep checking back periodically to see what's new.  On with the background....

In Part I of this project and article we prepared the red oak wood billet to get ready to turn it.  We cut it to length, squared it, split it down the middle and then routed a through-hole on each side.  In this Part we'll glue the two halves together and then start turning it on the lathe. Update:  I've gotten several positive emails and other responses from many of you about this Big Peppermill article.  Well, yeah, there's been a couple of negative ones too but I suspect they aren't really big pepper lovers. HA!  Anyway, there have been several of you out there that have said something like this .... "This is all great and fine.  I'm really interested in how this peppermill comes out in the end.  You must have a really long lathe to make these things!  I don't have such a lathe but would still like to make a larger peppermill like this one.  How can I do it?" I thought about it for a minute and thought, yeah, not everybody has larger lathe equipment but that shouldn't stop them from trying out these longer, larger projects.  So, in that spirit, I'm going to show how you can make this huge peppermill on a mini lathe.  Yep, it can certainly be done on a smaller lathe.  You just need a high quality, smaller lathe.  I'll be using the Jet Mini Lathe to do it.   Stay tuned to this page for the next installment of "Making a Big Peppermill" soon. UPDATE: This article is over 10 years old and the pictures from the rest of the build are gone. Sorry.

Part II - Glue and Section


IMG_2702.JPG (138901 bytes) Here's the body of our BIG peppermill. It's been split in half and then been routed with a half-hole on each side all the way down it.  We're going to stick this thing back together now that we have the hole through it like we wanted.
IMG_2703.JPG (135628 bytes) Make sure that you've lined up each half correctly!  The hole (actually, just half-holes) that you routed on each side may not have been perfectly centered. So, check that it all goes back together the way you need it to FIRST before you put the glue on.
IMG_2704.JPG (125565 bytes) OK, run a bead of glue down each side trying to stay out of the routed half-hole.  It's not huge problem if you do get some glue in there though.  It can be cleaned out afterward or, if it's not too much or too thick, just left there. No big deal.  I use just normal old yellow carpenters glue like Titebond.  Make sure you get enough glue on there.  We don't want any gaps!
IMG_2705.JPG (118357 bytes) Spread the glue.
IMG_2706.JPG (121033 bytes) And keep spreading.....
IMG_2707.JPG (126088 bytes) There, now we have glue on there.  And some glue where we don't really want it.  No problem. Just wipe out the glue that fell into the half-holes.  Don't get too carried away though.  If you put enough glue on the edges, you'll have even more glue in the half-holes in just a minute!
IMG_2708.JPG (134410 bytes) Slap the two halves of the peppermill together.  And now for a brief musical interlude ...... "Together Again. They're together again ... never to be separated.  Must be love because there's nothing like a peppermill together again."

(I never said I could sing ... or write music ... or much of anything else especially when it comes to a giant peppermill)

IMG_2709.JPG (142598 bytes) Clamps!  The more the merrier, right?  Squeeze that thing together well.  Don't starve the joint of glue, however, by squeezing too hard and squirting all of the glue out of it.  A normal, tight squeeze, you know.  Kind of the squeeze you give your wife or husband.  Not the kind of death hug you gave your sister when you two got into trouble as kids and Mom said to "Make up with your sister!  Now give each other hugs".  That type of squeeze isn't good ... for sisters or huge peppermills.
IMG_2710.JPG (121009 bytes) OK, make sure you've lined everything up, and it's in the clamps.
IMG_2712.JPG (131382 bytes) There's the hole down the middle of it.  It looks fairly round. That's a "good thing" as Martha would say, I guess.  Well, now we wait for things to dry ...... [Up next ... cutting it up into segments for turning on a mini lathe.]