Why make & use a French (Tapered) rolling pin? If you are rolling dough that is thick and springy (such as biscuits), a traditional American rolling pin is best. If you are rolling thin, pastry-like dough (such as cookies and pies) a French rolling pin is best. French rolling pins (also known as Tapered rolling pins) allow you to feel the dough and control how much pressure is used. Here is a great website on how to use one.
Since I am always looking for ways to save $$ and I like to make things, I decided to make my own French rolling pin. They are very easy to make, even without heavy duty woodworking tools (like a lathe)!
Step 1: Tools & Materials:
You will need the following:
- 20" Hardwood (Oak, Maple, or Walnut) Wooden Dowel (1.25" to 1.5" diameter)
- Tape Measure
- Masking Tape
- 7/8" or 1" Washer
- Power Sander
- Sandpaper for Power Sander (80-320 grit)
- Loose Sheets of Sandpaper (80-320 Grit)
Step 2: Measure Tapered Ends & Mark Dowel
French pins vary in length and diameter. The size is going to depend a lot on how big your hands are and how much work space you have to maneuver the pin. I used a 20" oak dowel that was 1.25" in diameter. Measure and mark 4" on each end of the dowel. This will be the tapered ends on your French pin. Mark with masking tape so you know where to stop sanding.
Step 3: Measure & Mark Diameter
Place the 7/8" washer on the end of the dowel and draw around it to mark the diameter of your French pin. You are sanding the area between the tape down to the pencil ring mark (the mark you made around the washer). This area will taper from 1.25" down to 7/8".
Step 4: Sand the Tapered Ends
Taper the ends & diameter of your French pin by very carefully sanding with a power sander. Start with the low grit sandpaper (#80) and work your way up to the higher grit (#320). Sand with the grain. Keep rotating the dowel! Do not leave the sander in one place for very long or you will remove too much material and your French pin will become lopsided. Also, check the pencil marks you made on the end (with the washer) to make sure you are not sanding past them and making the diameter too small. After you are done sanding the tapered ends, remove what is left of the masking tape.
Step 5: Sand the Body
After removing the masking tape, sand the body (by hand) with the loose sheets of sandpaper. Start with the lower grit (#80) sandpaper and work your way up to the higher grit (#320) sandpaper. Sand with the grain. Don't use the power sander on the body! At this stage, you are trying to smooth the wood, not remove a lot of it.
Step 6: Care of Your New French Pin
When finished, wipe down your new French pin with a damp cloth. You can use soapy water but do not immerse it in water. Clean it like you would any wooden rolling pin. Now you can try it out!