Since making the Rock Salt Bracelet, Rock Salt Margarita Glass, and Rock Salt & Walnut Salt Cellar, I have received quite a few requests to make something out of pepper. After some consideration, I finally found the perfect project: a pepper mill with a base made from peppercorns cast in resin.
I used polyester resin for this project. Polyester resin stinks (really, really stinks) but it allows for very deep castings. I did not use a vacuum chamber for this project even though it would have benefited from one. I wanted to show that these projects can be completed with minimal equipment, so you can try them at home if you want to without throwing down hundreds of dollars on specialty gear. Aside from the pepper mill itself, the materials for the project (resin and peppercorns) cost about $6.
I enjoy how this project came out, even though the pepper mill isn’t quite my style. The pepper mill that I used has a self-contained mechanism, so the peppercorn casting is more or less a decorative handle. I did not, however, enjoy the process. Whether turning wood, resin, rock salt, or peppercorns, the lathe has a charming little quirk — it tends to throw shavings directly towards the operator. As it turns out, creating a fine peppercorn/resin dust and spraying it around the shop at 2400 RPM is a great way to irritate your eyes, nose, and skin. The active chemical in black pepper, piperine, directly stimulates your body’s pain receptors. Put a little bit on food and it’s quite pleasant. Put a generous amount in the air around a lathe and it is markedly less pleasant.
So there you have it. Can you turn pepper on the lathe? Yes, absolutely. Should you? Probably not. Salt will get into the machines and cause rust issues, but pepper will make you immediately regret your choice of projects. Still, the end result was a success — the piece held together and worked as intended. That’s good, because I don’t ever want to do this again. If you do choose to tackle this project, a full-face respirator (the kind used in laboratories that includes sealed eye shielding) will go a long way towards minimizing skin and eye irritation.
Thanks for watching! If you have comments or project suggestions, be sure to leave a comment.
Author: Bill Livolsi
Bill is the owner of One Car Workshop, where he makes videos about optimizing a small work space for maximum effectiveness. He lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife, their dog, and two guinea pigs.