Mortar & Pestle

Mortar & Pestle From Solid Surface

Mortars are becoming increasingly popular tools for the kitchen. At $30-60 a piece, when my son suggested that it would make a worthwhile turning project I became interested. Of special interest is the materials that the Mortar & the head of the Pestle is made from… solid surface.

I have been wanting to try turning some solid surface material ever since I made a pen from it. In this project I found that a “skewy gouge” type of tool works best. Solid surface, like most hard plastics like to be scraped rather than cut. Tradition gouges can be hard to control. Scrapping and sheer cuts will remove allot of material as well as leave a smooth surface. The tool used is made from a 1/2″ round piece of water hardened steel, ground by laying it on the grinder face until it is hollow ground. Then grind the bevel like a gouge. Lastly harden and temper it using shop blacksmith techniques. The bevel is not important on this tool as it operates as a scraper. The linked videos show the tool technique better than I can explain it.


I can promise you that the shavings and chips from turning solid surface materials hurts, getting it in your eyes can result in serious eye injury.

Mortar Construction:

The mortar is made from laminating multiple pieces (6) of 4x4x 1/2 inch scrap counter top material.

Solid surface can be glued using corning glue or simple CA. First prepare the surface by sanding it flat. I use a piece of adhesive backed sandpaper stuck on a pieced of solid surface. Scribble with a pencil on the surface , then sand both sides of each piece by hand by rubbing it on this flat surface. Check to see that the sanding removes the pencil marks evenly across its face.

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After glue-up in a clamp, I mount the square blank in a large chuck and turn it as shown below.

Pestle Construction:

The Pestle is made of two sections. The nose is made from 4 pieces of 2x2x1/2″ sections laminated together using the same gluing techniques as the Mortar. The nose is turned with a 1/2″ tenon.

The handle is made from a 1x1x5″ Cocobolo blank. One end has a 1/2″ mortise drilled in it to accept the nose.

Love & Sex movies

Glue the nose to the handle with CA and then mount it between centers for turning.

Videos of the project can be viewed at the turnedoutright video channel:

Seed of Chucky psp Turning the Mortar

Turning the Pestle

Project Story Board

Mouse over the photo to read its caption!

Laminates Turning to shape
Finished Mortar from solid surface

If you are using SketchUp for woodturning visit the Modeling site where you can get free plug-ins, like the “automatic cut list” generator.

The next DVD review will be Master Techniques of Marquetry so come back soon.

Spider-Man rip

Enjoy…. Donnie

10 thoughts on “Mortar & Pestle”

  1. Frank Townend

    Very nicely done and several great tips for working with this material. Your son is right about the mortar and pestle. I give them as wedding gifts and include a poem I wrote:

    It can be said the mortar and pestle
    are very much like husband and wife.

    Morphologically yes,
    but more to the fact

    like husband and wife;
    they only work,
    when they work together.

  2. Thanks Frank,
    Do you also make your Mortar & Pestle from solid surface?
    Nice Poem, this could be modified for turning :

    It can be said the mortar and pestle
    are very much like a turner & wood.

    Morphologically yes,
    but more to the fact

    like a turner and wood;
    they only work,
    when they work together.

    Ok…. so I’ll stick to turning…..

  3. Sorry for the delay. I haven’t tried solid surfaces yet but your work has inspired me to do so. I fully endorse your woodturner’s poem. So true about working with the tool, lathe and wood. If you fight any one of them it won’t happen. Balance in our actions makes beautiful things.

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  6. This looks like a very interesting project. do you have to use corian or could you use something like cultured marble or granatex?

  7. CJ,
    As I understand it these materials you are asking about are polymer blends. For that reason I would expect that they would turn similarly, but I have not tried it.
    The addition of granite dust in the blend may be more abrasive to tools and would therefore recommend using the type tools I have shown.
    If you try it let us know how it works.

  8. Thank you and I will let you know when I actually get it done. Also, the lathe chuck I own is a 3 jaw chuck. Is it possible to lathe a square piece with a 3 jaw chuck?

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