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Mike Lanahan

Mike, Maestro of the Mill

Apr 2, 2015

Mike Lanahan

lanahan 2015-04

"The security team was unable to hold back the crowd of groupies, and  mass hysteria erupted, with trampling, blood and minor loss of life and  limb." - Mike

This article appeared in the 2015 April issue of Chips & Chatter.

Here is a pdf version of Mike's Making a Peppermill Presentation 04-01-15.



Mike Lanahan demonstrated his tips for making a peppermill using the Crush Grind mechanism, which he prefers. Since his preferred form includes a smooth transition from the body to the top, his technique focuses on keeping the top and body of the mill on the same axis. Sometimes the order of the steps is important for this reason. 


The cut-away peppermill he circulated showed the interior hole profile, as well as a plug for a tenon and threaded hole to allow mounting the top to finish it off. Mike showed his “mise en place” approach to keeping his drill bits in the sequence they would be used, and on the base is marked the diameter and depth of each hole. This helps reduce the number of mistakes, some of which can be unrecoverable. 


For drill bit security, it is important to secure the Jacob’s chuck firmly into the Morse taper of the tailstock quill. A very clean surface on both Morse taper surfac es and firm insertion are key tricks. Mike lists his preferred drill bits and special tools in his handout.


Flaring out the opening at the base so it is not just a sharp edge from drilling the hole shows added care by the turner, ap preciated by the fingers anyone making the grind adjustment. When turning a long continuous curve, Mike showed that holding a hot glue stick against the form helps identify high points, low points, and flat spots, or other subtle variations in a natural curve. This is a trick Brad Adams uses on bowls. 


To finish cutting the top of the mechanism, Mike mounts it on a custom made screw chuck, using the tapped threads cut into the top earlier. Although this can be done with a jam chuck, the screw chuck allows a very secure mount, if the variety of wood takes threads well, and the tapped threads allow the top to be held with a lag bolt while finishing and buffing later. 


In conclusion he showed tips to holding the pieces when finishing, marking the shaft to cut it to length, and gluing it in place. More detail is in the handout. 


And the crowd went wild, chanting for encores, knighthood and sainthood. The security team was unable to hold back the crowd of groupies, and mass hysteria erupted, with trampling, blood and minor loss of life and limb. But otherwise the demo was a success.