What’s a coffee grinder doing on a website about peppermills? Several reasons: 1) I love great coffee and have sold a lot of hand made coffee grinders in the past, 2) I love the challenge of creating commissioned (“special order”) work, 3) I had taken a series of photos for a gallery client who commissioned a very special coffee grinder and wanted to see the “process of creation,” and 4) the steps involved in crafting this piece are very similar to what goes into creating a Classic Series pepper mill.
With me so far? Here goes….
It all starts with a rough slab of wood (“Figure 1”), in this case a block of very high grade Cocobolo rosewood, sustainably-harvested from a
plantation in Costa Rica. This plantation is one of 12 owned by a friend who’s been in the business of restoring and preserving primary and secondary jungle for over 25 years. But more on that later.
The next step is to cut a square block, called a “blank” from the original
slab. We mount our blank on the lathe “between centers” (“Figure 2”) and, using what’s called a “spindle roughing gouge,” we turn the blank into a cylinder (“Figure 3.”) In this case, the cylinder is in two diameters. The small diameter becomes the base of our coffee grinder. It’ll be separated from the larger diameter section, which becomes the top of our coffee grinder body.
“Figure 4” shows the base after separation. At this point, the interior has been hollowed-out and exterior has been turned to close, but not final, dimensions. The next steps (not shown) involve shaping and hollowing the top of our coffee grinder. The top and base are then fitted together and the combined sections are turned to their final shapes and dimensions. After which, our coffee grinder is sanded and ready for finishing (“Figure 5.”)
Since this is to become a first-quality coffee grinder, it will naturally receive a “first-quality” French-polished finish!
Because this piece of Cocobolo had a relatively open grain, I chose to start the finishing process by filling it with an amalgam composed of pumice, walnut oil and my proprietary shellac-based polish. The grain-filled result can be seen in “Figure 6.”
After letting our coffee grinder set up over night, the next step is to build up a base or “body” of polish. Depending on the particular piece of wood, the “bodying-up” step can take several days. In the end, the result looks like “Figure 7.” Careful inspection reveals that our finish is still a bit rough. It will need to be leveled out before we can begin final polishing. We do that with 800-grit sandpaper, lubricated with walnut oil. Also, from this angle, you can see the mortise that will receive the coffee grinder mechanism.
Final polishing is accomplished by applying a diluted polish over a period of several days to a week (or more) until the desired finish is attained.
Figures 8 and 9 show our finished coffee grinder, assembled and ready for delivery to its new home!