A client contacted me recently about a special order salt and pepper mill set. She was interested in my “dizzy mill” design. I adapted my process in creating a spiral mill set using walnut, maple, and cherry — woods that will complement the color theme in her home.
Step 1: Lamination
I laminated (glued) five identical boards that were 3″ wide, 13″ long, and 3/4″ thick. Using my bandsaw, I cut those boards in half to create 10 identical boards about 3/8″ thick.
Step 2: Sections
Next I cut those 10 boards into 40 3-inch sections.
Step 3: Gluing
I found the exact center point of each section and drilled a 7mm hole all the way through. I inserted a 1/4″ dowel vertically into a piece of scrap plywood, which I had covered with packaging tape to keep glue from sticking to it. The holes in the center of the sections and the dowel kept the sections aligned correctly when I glued them together into turning blanks.
Step 4: Creating the Spirals
As I glued the sections together, I spiraled one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. This step in creating a spiral mill set is where I tweaked my dizzy mill process — otherwise, I would have ended up with two identical mills.
Step 5: Rounding the Blanks
I moved to my wood lathe and rounded the blanks into cylindrical shapes. I then drilled a 1-5/8″ diameter hole about 1/2″ deep in the bottom of each blank and a 1-1/16″ hole all the way through. That hollowed out the blanks and made space for the grinding mechanisms.
Step 6: Shaping the Mills
Starting with the cylindrical blocks, I turned two matching mills.
Step 7: Turning the Tops
I selected figured maple and figured walnut for the mill tops. Turning the tops was the final step with the lathe.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
I applied a wipe-on gloss polyurethane on the spiral mill set, 14 separate coats in all. Between each coat, I hand-sanded the finish. The last step was to install the salt and pepper grinding mechanisms. The salt mechanism is ceramic and will not corrode.