French Rolling Pins

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Nov 01 2011 to Dec 02 2011
Finished project?: 
Five rolling pins turned out of silver maple
Work History: 

I just got my first lathe set up last month. After a couple of quick test things, I decided to use some of the silver maple lumber from the tree that came down on the family farm last year to make gifts for my two sisters. Given the late date and my inexperience, I decided to pick something simple . . some French rolling pins. 

I hadn't managed to get any of the thicker lumber down from Ohio yet, so I needed to glue up some 4/4 pieces to make the blanks, then turn them down to as large a diameter as i could manage. These do present one unforseen challenge. since the diameter is uniform, of necessity, any catches or overly aggressive material removals means you end up with a pin the size of a pencil. Also, since I used this as an opportunity to try out my talents with a skew chisel, notorious for catching for beginners . . yep, a couple of these ended up a bit narrower than planned. 

Still, I like the way they turned out. My FIL, a soon-to-be-retired baker, picked one up and immediately asked for his own. When he's no longer baking for 'the Man' (Publix), he actually looks forward to baking on his own, you know, stuff that may not be economical for commercial bakeries to make, which these days I gather is pretty much everything. He liked the heft of these, and suggested they would be a useful item for getting one's spouse to 'get a move on.' :-)

So, silver maple, diameters between 1½" and 2 1/8", tapered in the last 2" on each end. The short ones are 14" and the long are 24". I thought of adding an 1/8" 'Alton Brown' ridge at each end to facilitate the proper thicknessing of pie crusts and pastry dough, but opted not to as such would probably end up breaking off over time. The finish was some Watco Butcher Block Oil finish I had around from an old cutting board project, applied right on the lathe. It came out beautifully, and it provides a nice, hard, smooth, semi-gloss shine.

I dont' think the spalting on the one long pin is going to be a problem. It was just the single band here and there, without much of the white fading indicating a loss of strength. And I was happy with the hint of flame in a couple of the pieces. This is the same lumber I'm using to build my Roubo, and I'm liking the way it's looking.


Turning to a basic cylinder isn't flashy, but it is a good exercise for the new turner. Getting a consistent diameter along a 20" spindle is not a trivial thing. These came out well, but they're not perfect. My sisters Holly and Patti were happy to get something useful made out of the old tree on the farm.