The honey dipper is a relatively simple project for beginning wood turners. You can use small scraps of wood to make them, and turn them quickly and easily. They also make great gifts.
I’ve made several honey dippers over the past year, and to be honest I got a little bored with them. So I decided to spice things up and make one that is ridiculously overdone. I asked myself “What kind of honey dipper would Jeff Spicoli use?”
Well, I think I know exactly what kind of honey dipper Jeff Spicoli would use…
That’s right, let’s make a checkerboard pattern honey dipper.
Building The Blank
I started with two blanks, one maple and one walnut, both of the same size. You want to start with blanks that are a little bigger than you want your final product to be, because you will loose a little bit of material to sawdust. For example, my band saw blade has a 1/16″ kerf, so every cut I make reduces the final size by that much. I started with blanks that were about a 1-1/8 square and ended up with 1 inch square blanks at the end, which was my goal.
I cut the two blanks into thirds, length wise so that I had three long strips of each color. I set up a fence on my band saw so that I would get equally sized strips. I sanded the saw marks off each piece using an adhesive backed sandpaper on a piece of plywood to keep everything flat.
Next, I swapped the center strips and glued each blank back together. This gave me one blank that was walnut on the outsides with a strip of maple in the center, and another blank that was the opposite.
Then I went back to the band saw, with my fence in the same place, turned the blanks 90 degrees, and cut them into three equally sized strips again. After sanding the saw marks off I swapped the centers again, and glued them back together. This glue up left the two blanks a little bit off, so to return them to square I clamped them in the vice and flattened them with a hand plane.
Then, with the fence still in the same place, I used a crosscut sled to cut the blanks into slices. I made sure to keep the slices lined up so that the grain would match up. I took these back to the bench again and sanded the saw marks off. Then I swapped every other slice to create two blanks that were the desired checkerboard pattern.
Now I know this is a lot of work just to make a honey dipper, but anything worth doing is worth overdoing. This isn’t an item you would want to make to sell, because you would have to charge more for your time than most people would pay for a honey dipper. Now, if you were making this as a gift for someone or just for the fun of it, the time spent doesn’t really matter.
Turning The Honey Dipper
I turned this between centers on my lathe. I started slow while it was square because I was afraid that if I got a catch that it would rip the blank apart. As I got it closer to round I increased the speed on the lathe. I started with a square carbide rougher, then switched to a round carbide. To get into the tighter spots I switched to a small spindle gouge, and to cut in the slots for the dipper portion I used a parting tool.
I sanded with 220 and 320 grit sandpaper. I use adhesive backed sandpaper for almost everything. I might even have to write an article on my love for adhesive backed sandpaper. But that’s another story altogether. I took the honey dipper off the lathe and cut off the nubs at the ends with a chisel. Be very careful while doing this! Chisels are really sharp!
I finished the honey dipper with butcher block conditioner, which is a mix of mineral oil, beeswax, and carnuba wax. You could just use mineral oil, but this is what I had at hand. Apply it liberally and let it soak for a while, then wipe off the excess.
That’s it! That’s how you make a ridiculous honey dipper. I made this one for a fellow maker on Instagram Hanna_Handicraft as part of a maker swap. He also made a honey dipper for me out of oak and purpleheart.