I purchased a set of marble stackable salt cellars a while back. When I examined them, it looked like they would be really easy to make out of wood using a lathe. I don’t have a lathe though…. I do have a CNC machine and I think this would be a great CNC project, but I wanted to challenge myself to make them with more traditional woodworking tools.
Turns out they are really simple to make!
All the wood I used for these was scrap wood I had lying around. This is a project that would be super easy to batch out a lot of in a day. So if you sell goods at craft fairs, this might be a great little project to earn some extra cash with your scrap wood!
Check out the full build video below!
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I started by cutting out the rounds with a 3” hole saw. The hole saw comes with a pilot bit that drills a hole in the center of the wood so the outer saw stays stable.
But I didn’t want a hole running through the center of my salt cellars….
So I started the cut with the pilot bit in place. Then removed the pilot bit when I was about 1/4 of the way through the wood.
The hole saw will be safe and stable bc it will just go in the groove you cut earlier while the pilot bit was attached. And you have a round piece of wood left over that doesn’t have a hole going all the way through its center. (The part where the pilot bit did leave a hole will be cut away at a later step, so don’t worry…)
In order to clear out the waste to make the pots for the salt cellars I am going to use a forstner bit. Because I used the pilot bit to start the cut for the rounds it is going to be hard for me to find the exact center of it to line up the forstner bit.
So I decided to fill in the hole with some quick setting CA glue and a dowel. This is going to be cut away later, so it doesn’t need to look pretty… It’s only there for alignment.
There are a ton of ways you can find the center of a circle but a lot of them involve math. Which I hate…
So I figured out the easiest way for me to find the center of the circle was to actually find the center of a square…
I took scraps that I knew had perfectly square ends and made a square around the circle. Then Using a straight edge, I made diagonal marks from corner to corner of both sides of the square. The point where those two lines meet is the center of the square and therefore it is also the center of the circle!
After finding the center of all of the rounds I took them to the drill press to hog out all the waste.
The rounds left over from the 3” hole saw were actually just a bit over 2-3/4” so I used a 2-1/4” Forstner bit, which left a lip of 1/4” all the way around the sides.
The trick to using such large bits is to set your drill press to the slowest speed, feed the bit slowly and make sure to keep clearing out the chips.
I wanted all the pots for the salt cellar to nest into each other, so I used a rabbeting bit at my router table.
These bits come with various sized bearings so you can make different sized cuts. I chose to use the 3/4” bearing which will cut away 5/16” off of the bottom.
As mentioned above, the lip all around is 1/4” so I figured a space of 5/16” would leave some wiggle room.
If you are making these on a CNC or Lathe, I’m sure you can get a tighter fit than that.
Now all the pots fit into each other! All I had to do was sand them to finish them up. (I sanded to 240 grit)
To make the lid I used brass. You can use whatever you like though!
I cut out a rough circle that was about 3” on the bandsaw. I wanted this top to be slightly larger than the pots so that it would be easy to lift up to open it.
After rough cutting on the bandsaw I refined the shape on the benchtop sander.
In order for the lid to stay in place, I cut out another smaller circle that was about the same size as the pot opening (2-1/4”). This way it will fit inside the pots and not fall out.
I epoxied the smaller piece of wood onto the larger brass circle.
I used on of the pots to make sure I was aligning it in the center.
And it was time for finish! I used a mineral oil based food safe finish.
I’m so happy with how this turned out, I think I did a really good job of recreating the original marble one and I am totally going to make more of these!
I would love to know, what kind of wood combinations you would do on a project like this?