We have our favorite woods. Ted’s is cherry (although he might identify his favorite wood as whatever is on the lathe at the moment.) Mine is tulipwood. But for the “fun and surprise” element, nothing tops SpectraPly.
SpectraPly is a hardwood composite made from layers of pigmented birch veneer. Ted has been using it for years, primarily for pepper mills and shaker sets. This 12” pepper mill with a figured maple top and base is turned from Royal SpectraPly.
Ted recently discovered Cousineau Wood Products, from which he has been able to obtain some new color combinations.
To make a set of shakers, Ted cuts two turning blanks 2-1/4″ square by 5-1/2″ tall and drills a 1″ hole deep enough to accommodate the salt and pepper inserts. These turning blanks are in the Blue Angel color pattern.
After the shakers are turned to the proper shape and size, they are sanded while still on the lathe. Ted starts with 150 grit sandpaper and ends with 600. At that point, they are ready for three or four coats of Watco Danish Oil (natural). The oil brings out the color and contrast in the SpectraPly, often with surprising results.
Ted sets the shakers aside for at least three days to let the oil finish dry completely. Attaching buffers to the lathe, he uses a three-step polish and wax to complete the shakers. This produces a satin sheen that brings out the details in the wood, doesn’t show fingerprints, and is easy to clean with a soft cloth.