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The Ultimate Guide to Making a Grinder

I‘ve made hundreds of Grinders using the Crushgrind mechanism.  It’s taken me years and years to perfect my techniques, and in the You Turn spirit of sharing, I’ve decided to show one being turned from start to finish. Why? Because your grinder will make an outstanding gift, is capable of being used daily for years and years, and can be a great expression of your own wood turning ideas.


Grinders like these have have been made using the techniques explained in this series of videos.

 

What’s this series about?

Grinders can be tricky, and I know a lot of turners try to work things out solo in their workshops, so I do hope this information helps people with some of the issues they could run into.

This series is all about the lathe work.  Fitting the Crushgrind mechanism has been covered in another video, which is indicated in Part 3.

Although I do a lot of grinders using resin and gumnuts, this series is exclusively done in wood.

 

What this series covers:

In Part 1, I show how to prepare the blank and drill the appropriate holes.
In Part 2, I look at shaping the base.
In Part 3, I look at making the knob.

 

As well as videos, you’ll find loads of other helpful information:

Step-by-step instructions

stepbystep
Downloadable drawings

Knob Design for Crushgrind Mechanism
Tools I’ve used

Related videos

You Turn Mill Drill

 

download

Before you start

A reminder that this series of videos requires use of the Crushgrind Mechanism, which is the same one that I use in all my grinders.  If you need one, do please visit my store, where you can also get most of the tools* you’ll need, plus handy things like gift boxes and swing tags.  Remember, shopping with YouTurn helps keep this free resource available to wood turners around the world.

*Where I’ve made my own tools, such as cutters or plugs, you’ll find information about making your own under the “Downloads” tab in each section.

I encourage you to contact me if you have questions I haven’t covered here. And don’t forget to send me a photo of your finished work.
Safe Turning!


Brendan Stemp
Brendan Stemp

 


PartOne

Drill sizes in millimetres (and inches):

22mm (7/8th 25mm (1”)   35mm (1 3/8th)   38mm (1 ½)   45mm (1 ¾)

Timber size:

75mm sq. x 350mm long (3” sq. x 14” long)

 

Away we go…

  • Hold blank between centres using a spur drive and live centre and turn to a cylinder.
  • Use a parting tool (as thin as possible) to cut the cylinder into body and knob sections. Body to be 245mm long.
  • Put knob section to one side and work on bodyBut it is a good idea to mark the top of the body and knob section so the holes are drilled into the correct ends. This will ensure a good grain match when the grinder is finished.
  • Mount top end of body in chuck (I use Vicmarc 83mm Shark jaws) so holes can be drilled in base of bottom.
  • Drill 25mm hole in base. Start with short Forstner bit and then use longer Auger bit. Drill to a depth of approx.. 235mm.
  • Use MillDrill to drill next 2 holes; 38 & 45mm. NB  If using Forstner bits to do these holes they need to be done before the 25mm hole.  So, 45mm first then 38 and then 25.  See plans to get correct depths.
  • Cut notch in wall of 38mm hole. This needs to be cut just below the shoulder created by the 38 & 25mm holes.
  • Bring up tailstock with large live centre to support end of base end body. Undercut base and chamfer shoulder of 45mm hole.  Also turn approx. 50mm of base to true the outside surface concentric with the holes.
  • Take tailstock away and sand 45mm hole and base surface to 240 grit.
  • Reverse body in the chuck making sure the jaws of the chuck are only clamped around the trued-up section of the body.
  • Drill 35mm hole in top of body to a depth of 10-15mm. It should meet the 25mm hole but if not then also drill a 25mm hole until it meets the hole coming from the other direction.
  • Take body out of chuck and take chuck off lathe. Mount the plug-chuck onto lathe and fit the body onto plug-chuck.
  • Body is now ready for shaping concentrically to the holes. So bring the tailstock up with large live centre that fits into 35mm hole.
  • Shape and sand the body to desired grit. I generally sand to 400 or 500 grit.
Body Design for Crushgrind Grinder
Body Design for Crushgrind Grinder

Hole Cutter Knob Plug
Hole Cutter Knob Plug

Double Ended Notch Cutter for Crushgrind Mechanisms
Double Ended Notch Cutter for Crushgrind Mechanisms


This project involves using the Crushgrind mechanism.



You’ll need bits like these:





These are the chisels I use:




Also handy:


Drilling holes:

The Mill Drill
The Mill Drill
You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
Drilling Deep Holes on the Lathe

Skew Chisel:

You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
The Skew Made Easy Part 1
You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
The Skew Made Easy Part 2

Watch Part 1:


PartTwo

Let’s recap the end of Part 1:

  • Take body out of chuck and take chuck off lathe. Mount the plug-chuck onto lathe and fit the body onto plug-chuck.
  • Body is now ready for shaping concentrically to the holes. So bring the tailstock up with large live centre that fits into 35mm hole.
  • Shape and sand the body to desired grit. I generally sand to 400 or 500 grit.

You’ll need chisels like these:





Plus this bit:



Also handy:


Stopping the Wobbles:

You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
Stop the Wobbles Part 1
Stop the Wobbles Part 2
Stop the Wobbles Part 2

Sizing Timber on the Lathe

You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
Sizing Timber on the Lathe

Watch Part 2:


PartThree

It is now time to work on the knob.

  • Mount knob timber in Shark jaws so that holes can be drilled into the bottom of knob.
  • Drill 22mm hole in base to a depth of approx. 45mm. I use a homemade cutter that drills a 22mm hole and a 26mm hole at the same time. The 26mm hole is drilled to a depth of 5mm.
  • Cut notch into wall of 22mm hole at a depth of 15mm from the start of the 22mm hole.
  • Bring tailstock up and fit into 22mm hole to support the end of the knob blank.
Knob Design for Crushgrind Mechanism
Knob Design for Crushgrind Mechanism

After this step is complete, you’ll need a Crushgrind mechanism



Also handy:



Other videos mentioned:

Fitting a Crushgrind Mechanism:

You Turn with Brendan Stemp
Fitting a Crushgrind Mechanism

Sizing Timber on the Lathe

You Turn with Brendan Stemp - wood turning
Sizing Timber on the Lathe

Watch Part 3:


Further information

Once you’ve mastered turning a grinder, you might like to consider getting more creative with your blank, like using resin to suspend other material like gumnuts.  There’s a world of information on my website about using resin, and my next feature article will draw it all together.  Make sure you’re signed up to my newsletter to find out when it’s available.

  • rgoodleaf .

    Hi Brendan,
    Finally getting around to making a pepper grinder using the crush grind unit. I have some Butternut just begging to be turned. I looked at the plans for the body of the mill and I have a question. The plans show the depth of the 38mm hole in the bottom of the body to be 28.5mm. My grinder mechanism and the Sorby tool show this depth as 33.5mm. The Sorby tool shows 28.5mm from the shoulder of the tool to the bottom of the grinder tab groove and 33.5mm from the shoulder to the top of the grinder tab groove. Am I misunderstanding the measurements? I did want to clear this up as these measurements are critical to the seating the grinder mechanism. Thanks for the help. Rich

  • Rob

    Hi Brendan,
    Just wondering what size roughing gouge you are using to round off your grinders?
    and what sort of lacquer is in your spray bottle.
    Regards Rob

    • Brendan

      G’day Rob, Sorry I just saw this message. I obviously have too many platforms to keep an eye on.
      The Roughing Gouge is a 25mm P&N
      BS

  • rgoodleaf .

    Hi Brendan,
    Sorry for the confusion. I was just using the 25mm hole as an example. But I get your point. When you use CA glue, do you use accelerator or do you just let it cure naturally? My experience with CA glue is that the accelerator tends to make the CA more brittle.
    Thanks again for this great tutorial!!

  • Rich, the 25mm hole simply creates the well for the pepper or salt. It can be 1 inch, 25mm or bigger or even smaller. It is not a critical measurement. The critical holes for the mechanism are the 38mm and 22mm. The 45mm hole could be slightly smaller or bigger. I always cut the slot for the lugs of the mechanism to click in to. And I use a CA glue to help as an extra garuntee to keep everything in place. Not all CA glues are the same but I know the one I use (Solid Solutions 390) works very well. I hope this helps.

  • Pingback: 2 Tools for Making Grinders using the Crushgrind Mechanism - You Turn()

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  • rgoodleaf .

    Hi Brendan,

    I have a question about the drill sizes. All the information I’ve looked at for the Crush Grind mechanism shows hole sizes in mm. I’ve read some comments that using a 1″ drill versus a 25 mm drill affects how the well the mechanism fits. Some folks have apparently had issues with the mechanism turning in the hole due to the fact the hole is a bit larger and the splines don’t really engage the wood properly. Gluing doesn’t appear to be a good solution as the plastic doesn’t glue well at all. Do you have suggestions for using US drill sizes, or should we just stick with mm drills?

    Thanks,

    Rich

    sorry if this got posted twice, I forgot to login the first time.

    • Brendan Stemp

      Hi Rich,
      Thanks for your question. The sizes are mentioned in the article. I understand what you’re saying though. I’ll see what I can dig up on this.
      Brendan

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