Making kitchen tools from a log

A friend gave me some nice cherry logs that I sealed the ends of and let dry for the past year. I haven’t done much of my own milling, but I decided to get one of the logs out and see how much I could make out of it.

What I ended up getting out of one log:

  • Kitchen mallet
  • 3 French rolling pins
  • 1 traditional rolling pin
  • 2 cooking spoons
  • 1 eating spoon
  • 1 eating fork
  • 1 coffee scoop

First I split it in half and then split one of the halves in half again, leaving me with a half and two quarters to work with. Look at that gorgeous red!

I milled the half down into a square blank on the bandsaw, carefully removing the pith, which always splits when it dries. I also cut off most of the sap wood (the wood around the outer edges). Sap wood is younger, more wet, and more susceptible to splitting and tearing that the heart wood, which is older. The sap wood is growing and it is where the tree’s nutrients are carried to its limbs. The heartwood is no longer growing.

Mallet/Ice crusher

Turning: First, make it round. Second, plan out the cuts. I tend to mark them with a pencil. This wood was still a bit green, so it cut easily and made large shavings. I roughed it out to its final shape, then had it let it dry for a few hours before I could smooth it out and sand it.

Once it dried, I sanded it with 80, 150, and 220 grit sandpaper. Then I cut the grooves in the handle with a skew chisel and sanded the whole thing with 400 grit sandpaper before cutting it off the lathe. I cut it off by gouging the ends down to the size of a dime or so, cutting it close with a hand saw, then sanding down the ends to match the 400 grit. After that I take it inside and finish it with a coat of mineral oil + beeswax that I heat up over a flame on the stove so it soaks in and buff the wax with a cloth.

Finished! I paired this with a Lewis Ice bag when I gave it to my friend.

Rolling Pins

All of the rolling pins started out just like the mallet, but the blanks were a little smaller. I didn’t take many photos of that process, but in essence it is the same as the mallet:

  1. Plan it out
  2. Rough it out
  3. Finishing cuts
  4. Sanding
  5. Finishing

Each rolling pin is roughly 14 inches long. The French-style can be used for all 14 inches. The traditional one can be used on the 9 inch center portion.

The three French-style rolling pins have a taper all the way across. To achieve this, I used a pair of spring-type calipers to measure the thickness at points equidistant from each end. I used the same technique on the traditional fixed-end rolling pin to cut the handles. I couldn’t resist putting the decorative bands on there to help with holding it.

Spoons and utensils

I was able to get a few spoon blanks out of this wood, too:

  • 2 cooking spoons
  • 1 eating spoon
  • 1 eating fork
  • 1 coffee scoop

I haven’t quite finished these yet. Hoping to do so this weekend. Note: Some of the things pictured are not from the log. I had three spoons already cut from a different piece of cherry I had. The butter knife, too.

Lessons Learned

  1. I need to plan out my blank cuts a little better. I cut things a little too big on the first pass, but the second cuts didn’t leave me much room to do anything with, so I wasted wood. I could have gotten at least one more rolling pin out of this, maybe two.
  2. The surface of the wood needs to dry a bit before turning to avoid tear out.
  3. I didn’t take branches and knots into account when planning out the initial cuts on the bandsaw. Thankfully it didn’t cause issues this time, but definitely could have. I need to plan better next time.
  4. I should remove the bark with a draw knife before splitting and cutting to make the sawing cleaner.
  5. Getting a split flat with the draw knife would have helped for the initial bandsaw cuts.

2 thoughts on “Making kitchen tools from a log

    1. Thanks, Rob! I toss the scraps in a big wooden box in the corner of the shop and dig through it when I need small pieces on other projects. A few times a year I empty the stuff that I know I won’t use into the firepit and we roast marshmallows over it 🙂

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