If you own a salt and pepper mill set then I’m sure you’ve run into the same problem I did. Every time I picked them up I leave behind a little salt and/or pepper dust. This is bad news for the place these grinders are kept on a daily basis. I starting thinking about fixing the issue when I realized that I had some nice hardwood scraps left over some previous projects.
I decided to go with multiple strips of wood laminated together. Most of my scrap hardwood is from walnut so that made up the majority of the tray. I picked out some maple and oak for the contrasting wood that would run down the center.
I used a similar method for gluing up an end grain cutting board, except this time pretty much none of my pieces were the same width or length. That didn’t matter much for this project since all of the pieces were over sized for my project so plenty to cut off when needed.
I cut it pretty close to its final dimensions on the table saw and then ran it though the jointer to get two perpendicular sides. This left the varying widths sticking out of the top which the bandsaw made quick work of.
Using a hand plane, I smoothed out the rough side left by the bandsaw and brought it to a uniform thickness. I started off by marking it with some chalk and each time all the caulk was gone I would measure to see if I had any high spots. I would put a little caulk on anything that needed to be brought down more and repeated that process until it was all one thickness.
Using some MDF I had lying around, I cut it to size and marked out the hole for the inside of my tray. I drilled a hole in the center and then cut out the inside of the bowel part with a jig saw. I used a drum sander attachment for my drill press to cleanup the inside.
I stuck the template to the laminated scrap wood with some double-sided sticky tape or turners tape and put the whole thing in a clamp. The turners tape is pretty strong so I wasn’t worried about taking my router and template or flush trim bit to it. I routed out about half the depth of the board for my tray which couldn’t have gone better.
Using my router table, I put a cove on the ends and then chamfered the sides. When routing the ends I made sure I had a sacrificial piece of wood behind it to help with tear out.
I use these salt and pepper mills for pretty much every meal at home and don’t want to expose my family to anything unsafe. So after some brief sanding I put on 5 coats of mineral oil and then two coats of bees-wax since these are food safe finishes.
I’ve only been using these for a week now and I can’t believe how much salt and pepper powder they have already saved from making it to my counter. The inside of the tray won’t stay pretty forever but it will sure help my counters stay clean.
You can get the plans for this here: https://www.monolocoworkshop.com/product-category/plans/