Make a Tulipwood Salt Cellar

Next week on Woodturning with Tim Yoder, you’ll learn to make a salt cellar that features clever hidden hinges and a catch made from rare earth magnets.

The project is made from a single blank of tulipwood that Tim shapes, then parts into two pieces and hollows to create the lid and base. The first step is to band saw the wood to rough shape.

Once that’s done, Tim mounts the blank on the lathe, using a steb center in the head stock and a live center with a small point in the tail stock. These support the work without making deep holes and preserve as much of the thickness of the wood as possible.

Tim starts rounding the blank with a small bowl gouge, using light cuts because tulipwood tends to tear out. Next, he uses a square-tipped scraper to create a tenon on the bottom of the blank so he can mount it in his scroll chuck.

After reversing the blank, he begins hollowing the opposite end to create a tenon on what will become the base of the salt cellar. He’ll use this to mount the base in the chuck once he’s separated the base from the lid.

To create the two parts of the cellar, Tim marks off about 3/4” of the top for use as the lid and then separates the lid from the base.  Then it’s time to locate where the hinge and catches will go. With the lid still mounted in the chuck, Tim drills shallow holes in the lid and installs cut-off nails into the holes so the tips extend about 1/8”.  Tim holds the base up against the lid, carefully aligning the grain between lid and base, and then gives the base a sharp whack to transfer the holes positions from the lid.

Next, it’s time to hollow the base. Tim uses a round-tipped carbide scraper to rough out the inside then switches to a negative-rake scraper to eliminate torn grain and make the interior as smooth as possible.

When that work is complete, Tim takes the lid and base to the drill press to bore holes for the hinge and catch. He then returns to the lathe and reverse-mounts each part so he can remove the tenons he cut earlier.

It’s on to final assembly and finishing. Since the finish will come into contact with salt, which is quite corrosive, Tim decides to use mineral oil, which he can renew from time to time.

This is a useful project that’s quick to make and only requires a minimal amount of hardware. And if you like the shape, Tim suggests you make a larger version as a margarita cellar.

Kevin Ireland

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