Mimi told me that she had given away the last pepper grinder. So, it is off to the basement to create some more. This is my over-engineered process. Hopefully you won’t find it too long winded.


These were made a few years ago to give away as presents. By making a few jigs, they could be produced, a bunch at a time, as the supply ran low.
These grinders were made using Woodcraft’s 6” Pepper Grinder mechanisms. By adjusting the length of the stock and blank, any of the different brand/length mechanisms could be used.

To get the pieces space correctly and to reduce waste, this layout jig is used to position the stock. The jig has the final dimensions of the body blank (4 ¼” by 3”) drawn in to aid in the stock positioning. The cleat is positioned at about 70 degrees.

These grinders were made from walnut and maple stock. The pieces range from about ¼” thick to about 3/8” thick and vary in length from about 2” to about 5 ¼”. All of the stock is 3” wide. The pieces are arranged by random thickness to give each grinder a unique look.

Because the pieces are positioned at an angle, shorter pieces can be used to start and finish the blank. This blank will be used to create the body of the grinder. In addition, stock defects can be oriented in areas that will be removed later

Once all of the pieces are in place, make a witness mark across the blank to assure the pieces maintain the same orientation throughout the gluing process.

To make the glue up easier, split the blank roughly in half. Rubber bands will keep the stock together.

The glue up is done with a simple clamping jig. The jig is made from a 90 degree plywood fence clamped to an old restaurant grade plastic cutting board. A laminate floor tapping block is used to prevent any glue from sticking to the plywood.

Glue the stock together. The witness mark is used to align the pieces. Once the glue dries, repeat the process for the second half of the blank.

When both halves have dried, glue and clamp them together. Again, the witness mark is used for alignment.

Once the blank has dried, layout the perimeter using a template. The diagonal lines on the template help orient the blank at the 70 degree angle.

The body of the pepper grinder will be cut from the blank, using these lines as a guide.

This jig holds the blank while trimming the first long side. The jig is designed to capture and ride over the rip fence

The blank is positioned in the jig so that the perimeter cut line is parallel with the edge of the jig.

The clamp holds the blank securely to the jig. A wedge is used to help with alignment and assure a good hold is achieved with the clamp

Trim the blank to create a flat, straight side.

Using the rip fence and miter gauge, finish trimming the blank. The final dimensions will be determined by the size of the pepper grinder mechanism. This blank is 4 ¼” X 3” X 3”.

The remaining pieces of the blank are a collar (3” x 3” x 3/8” thick Maple) and a top (3” x 3” x 1 7/8” thick Walnut).

Glue and clamp the collar and top to the body of the grinder.

Finally, glue a 3” x 3” x ¾” waste block to the “top” of the blank. The waste block will be turned to fit the lathe chuck.

The finished glued up blank

Locate the center of the blank on both ends. Layout the diameter of the grinder

Knock off the corners of the blank before mounting it in the lathe. The jig for this can be found at the end of this blog.

Mount the blank in the lathe. The waste block goes toward the drive spur end.

Turn the blank round and prepare the waste block for mounting into the lathe chuck.

Remove the drive spur and replace it with a chuck.

Using the correct diameter bits- specified in the mechanism directions- drill the blank. The pencil lines are used to help gauge the depth of the holes. These holes can be drilled on a drill press and the blank returned to the lathe for finishing.

Short Forstner bits need an extension to reach the proper depth. The depth of the holes are determined by the overall height of the finished grinder and the mechanism used. Grinder mechanism instructions will provide the correct dimensions.

After drilling the required holes for the grinder mechanism, this jig is used to provide support for the grinder throughout the remaining turning, sanding and finishing steps. Dimensions and information for this jig are at the end of this blog.

The jig fits into the bored out blank and provides support at the tailstock end of the blank. It also holds the grinder together after the top is parted off.

The chuck end of the grinder blank with the jig installed

Re-chuck the blank in the lathe.

Part off the grinder top by making the tenon specified in the grinder mechanism instructions

Remove the jig and lower portion of the grinder body. Re-chuck the top of the grinder and cleanup the tenon.

Reinsert the jig and tighten securely. The jig will now hold the top and body aligned during the shaping and sanding process.

With the blank re-chucked in the lathe, layout the transition points.

Turn and sand the grinder.

Part off the grinder from the chuck and touch-up the top

Several coats of gloss water based polyurethane finish.

Some of the jigs used during the fabrication.
Corner Cutting Jig

When turning projects on the lathe, the process can be sped up by knocking off the corners of the square blanks. This is usually done by tilting the table saw blade to 45 degrees or tilting the band saw table. In both cases, the saw needs to be realigned back to 90 degrees.
Also, for small pieces, your fingers are dangerously close to the table saw blade

To solve both problems, this jig holds the pepper grinder blanks while knocking off the corners.

It consists of a sled with a 90 degree “V” notch cut along its’ length. The V notch holds the work similar to a drill press round stock drilling clamp. The sled captures the rip fence but slide freely and the clamp holds the work in the V notch.

The sled provides a secure base for the stock, your fingers are a safe distance from the blade, and the blade stays set at 90 degrees to the table

On the last cut, a scrap is added to make up for the short travel of the clamp. Also, note the stop at the back of the jig to prevent the work from sliding

Pepper Grinder Jig- Turning

The pepper grinder turning jig



1. Cut two pieces of hardwood (Maple) into approximately 2” squares.
2. One piece should be ¾” thick (End A) and the other at least 1 1/8” thick (End B).
3. Clamp the pieces together, locate the center of the blanks and drill a small hole (3/32” dia.) through both pieces. This hole will help align the pieces during the final glue up and assembly.
4. Unclamp the pieces and drill a 7/8” diameter hole- approximately 1/8” deep- in End B. Use the 3/32” dia. hole as the center for this hole.
5. Enlarge the 3/32” dia. hole in End B to accommodate the threaded sleeve of a ¼” x 20 T-Nut Fastener. This was approximately 9/32” dia. DO NOT DRILL COMPLETELY THROUGH “END B” AT THIS TIME. DRILL ONLY DEEP ENOUGH TO INSTALL THE T-NUT FASTNER.
6. Install the T-Nut fastener into End-B. Be sure the flange of the fastener is below the surface of the wood.
7. Glue and clamp the two pieces of wood together. Us a 3/32” dia. bit or heavy piece of wire through the holes, drilled in Step 2 above, to align the two pieces.
8. After the glue dries turn the blank to the dimensions shown.
9. During the turning process, End A should be oriented at the tail stock. This will prevent the enlargement of the 3/32” dia. hole.
10. After turning and sanding, remove the piece from the lathe. Finish drilling the 9/23” dia. hole (Step 5 above). Drill in from “End B”. Take care not to drill into the T-Nut Fastener threads.
11. Thread a ¼” x 20 threaded rod into the small end of the jig until it just bottoms out on “End A”.
12. Use two ¼” x 20 nuts, a lock washer and a flat washer to hold the jig securely in the turning blank.


Thanks for looking!





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Tags: grinder, laminated, maple, pepper, turned, walnut


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Comment by Lewis Kauffman on May 14, 2014 at 7:10am

Thank you, Mark!!!

Admission is always free!

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Comment by Mark Wisecarver on May 14, 2014 at 5:50am

Wow! Felt like I should have bought a ticket to read this one, Excellent!

Comment by Nate Meadows on February 22, 2013 at 11:35pm


It is a true pleasure to read your blogs and learn from you!  You are very creative and have an eye for the round. Keep it up. You honestly inspire and teach! Awesome!


Comment by Mark Dorman on November 25, 2012 at 7:47pm
Very well done Lew.

Good, Better, Best never let it rest
Till your Good is Better and your Better is Best.

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Comment by John Morris on November 25, 2012 at 6:30pm

Lew, once again you out did yourself, I know you posted this sometime ago, but it just reminds us of the effort you go through to produce this, great job.

John Morris
The Patriot Woodworker
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Comment by Mike Dillen on November 25, 2012 at 4:50pm

This may be of help for those wanting to turn the grinders featured in this months Woodcraft magazine.

www.thepatriotwoodworker.com Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

Comment by Mike Dillen on November 25, 2012 at 4:48pm

Very cool Lewis and thanks for posting!

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Comment by Rob Austin on February 19, 2012 at 8:21am

I'm impressed with your method of making pepper grinders but your presentation that you have developed and posted is outstanding.  It's much harder to show other people how to do something than it is to do it yourself!

Thank you!


Comment by Jason Swearingen on October 28, 2011 at 8:02am



Thanks!  I've turned a couple of grinders, but had trouble with some finishing cuts once the tailstock was pulled away.  I'll make your "keeper", which appears to solve the problem!


Semper fi

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Comment by Lewis Kauffman on October 27, 2011 at 12:43pm


Used Titebond II. It seems to work well in this application. Don't really need a lot of "open" time.


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