Honey Dipper on a Wood Lathe




I've been working on my wood lathe skills, and i love to eat honey, so i decided to make a honey dipper. According to reputable sources, honey dippers are the most effective tool for transferring honey from jar to food item.

I made it at TechShop

TechShop is awesome - if there's one in your area, you should check it out.


Step 1: Materials and Equipment

- piece of oak wood, bought at Home Depot
- sand paper
- mineral oil and a rag for applying

Equipment(all of this can be found at TechShop)
- wood lathe
- table saw
- band saw
- articulated miter saw
- belt sander

Step 2: Research and Design

I did a quick google search of honey dippers, found some that I liked the look of, and tried my best to draw out a basic design sized to my piece of wood.

The wood I used for this honey dipper was actually scrap from a previous lathe project. I'll show how I got it prepped for the lathe in the next step.

Step 3: Preparing Wood for the Lathe

Instead of putting a square piece of wood on the lathe and having to chisel off the corners, it's a good idea to use a table saw to cut it down to an octagon. Read the captions on the pictures for instructions on how to do this without any measuring (to see the captions on the smaller images you'll have to click on the pictures first).

Step 4: Turning, Sanding, Sawing, Sanding

The actual process of turning and sanding a piece on the lathe is probably best demonstrated through video. Take a look at this video guide to see a honey dipper made by someone who actually knows what they're doing.

Here is a basic overview of how I went about turning my honey dipper.

1) secure wood on lathe, tape up design as a guide
2) experiment with different chisels, blunder towards a dipper-like shape
3) mark out grooves with a pencil
3) try to make grooves on the head of the dipper narrow and square, realize I don't have a small enough tool, settle for wider rounded grooves
4) turn lathe to reverse, sand using 100, 150, and 220 grit sand paper
5) remove honey dipper from lathe, cut off extra material on both ends using band saw
6) sand down cut ends using belt sander
7) hand sand spots that still look a little rough, especially in the grooves on the head

Step 5: Finishing

I finished my honey dipper by rubbing it down with mineral oil.

According to the internet, pharmaceutical mineral oil (for use as a laxative) works pretty much the same as more expensive butcher block oil.

With the oil applied, the honey dipper had a nice finished look.

Now I'm ready to dip honey like a pro.

Give me a shout in the comments if you have any hot tips on wood turning - I'm just getting started and would love some advice.

Thanks for reading!



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    11 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    The dipper blank is small enough diameter that you can easily skip cutting the corners on the table saw. A sharp roughing gouge will round that blank faster than checking out the key, setting up the saw, knocking off the corners, taking the key back, etc.

    Watch a Richard Raffan video on turning and you'll see how quickly a roughing gouge can do its job...

    There should be a sharpening setup at your local TechShop. At mine, it's in the metal shop which is irritating as a proper wood lathe setup should have a sharpening system right there with it!

    The local TechShop here has the Wolverine sharpening system on their grinder - very easy to learn.

    Next step up is bringing your own, higher quality, turning tools. With your own tools, you can tweak the grind angles to suit your own style/tastes/needs. A few degrees difference in a spindle gouge's bevel angle (for example) can make a world of difference! The factory grinds are not always the most efficient. They know experienced turners are going to change the angle anyways so as long as it's semi-close, it's good enough at the point of sale (and they're right).

    As for which woods on food related projects...closed grain woods are much better (Maple, Cherry, Birch, Beech, etc). White Oak is OK but Red Oak has open pores that can collect food bits.... Red Oak also loves to split so chipping and other problems are more likely to show up.

    Keep making shavings! :-)

    Phil B

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Coarse grained woods, like oak, tend to chip out more easily. You had some chipping out on the ribs that are supposed to hold more honey in their grooves. Turning thin things like the ribs without them chipping out is always a challenge. It would help to use a very sharp chisel and run the lathe speed quite a bit higher so the chisel removes dust rather than chips.

    4 replies
    adamwattersPhil B

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Phil! This is exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for. Yes, I did get a lot of chipping on the ribs. On the bright side, it sort of gives the piece a rustic look, but I would definitely like to make one that looks more finished.

    I think the next step for me might be to get some more practice sharpening my chisels. Can you recommend any quality resources on the subject?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Sharpening? Sharpening takes a lot longer to learn than turning. There are many 20-30 year veterans of turning still looking for the holy grail of sharpening. I use a worksharp and it does the job. When I was just learning to turn all I had for sharpening was a belt sander. It worked, though it was not gentle on tools .

    Phil Badamwatters

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Your honey dipper will work just fine as it is. The are several Instructables on sharpening chisels and plane blades. Just search for them. Another trick you could try is to put a thin straight bit in a Dremel tool and use it under power while the lathe runs to cut the slots between the ribs, but you would need to be on your guard to keep the Dremel from rolling or skating on the lathe's tool rest.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Is this your first honey dipper? If so good job.
    I like to make dipper from cherry and or maple. Cherry is easier, You should not have to do any sanding once it is removed from the lathe. Cut the ends off a bit at a time with a parting tool and sand while it is on the lathe. It is much faster and easier.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yep - this is my first - and thanks! I'll try my hand at using the parting tool on my next piece. Also, I admire your glass bottle building - I've decided just this second that I must build one some time in the next few years.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. They are actually very quick to make. I used mine as a shop for awhile. When I binge-building large furniture pieces.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Using a laxative coated utensil sounds like a good practical joke to me... Have you noticed if it imparts any flavoring to the honey? I am wondering if the tannin from the oak might change the flavor of the honey. I have messed around with many types of wood, but I don't usually lick it to see what it tastes like after I am done. I would be tempted to use maple for this since it is a tighter grain which would cause less chipping or like Phil B says, sharper tool, higher speeds.

    1 reply

    haha I agree. I'm pretty sure the thin coating of oil I applied is well below the dosage necessary to cause any stomach issues. I used the honey dipper this morning and haven't felt any adverse effects. As for flavoring/sent - the mineral oil is odorless and tasteless.

    I hadn't thought about the tannin from the oak. I just gave the piece a sniff and it does have a strong wood smell - maybe not optimal. We'll see if it fades.

    I think I'll take your advice and try maple for the next utensil I turn.