Cherry and Maple Rolling Pin

No LEDs. Nothing to do with electronics at all. Just wood.

This is for Lawrence’s wife. I made a cherry rolling pin for Cort a couple of years ago; and when I described it to Gail, she was very interested. She said she preferred hers with a maple stripe in it, and I finished it yesterday.

If you think cherry wood should be redder because that’s what you’ve seen in furniture stores . . . let me tell you that what you’ve seen bears as much resemblance to real cherry wood as a maraschino does to a real cherry: They’re both full of dye and completely unnatural. With exposure to light, this cherry will darken to a lovely, deeper brown shade within a few weeks, further highlighting the difference between the cherry and the maple. No bright red about it.


I started a while back by gluing up the block. I have a large supply of short, narrow cherry and maple pieces from a long-lost high school classmate (who turns out to be Ron-the-TV-guy’s brother-in-law; lots of connections in a small town) who worked at a cabinet shop and got all the rails and stiles when they closed, then got tired of storing them and cheerfully sold them to me for a song.

The cherry and maple were both flat-sawn, so they showed broad grain patterns on their faces and tight (boring) grain on the edges. I didn’t like the way the maple edge grain looked sandwiched between the cherry; so I sliced the maple into thirds, rotated the slender sticks 90°, edge-glued them back together to put face grain on the outside, and planed it flat again. Then I glued up the block — from the end, you can still see three maple squares sandwiched between two solid cherry pieces. And (like many of my projects), it then sat a while.


This weekend I returned home from a conference, played a rock concert to benefit the high school robotics team, finished my obligations to the world, and finally had some time to myself. Electronics is great, but it’s awfully cerebral; and yesterday afternoon it was nice to give the mind a rest and do something visceral.


I’m not a particularly good wood turner, and my results are due entirely to patience rather than skill, but I enjoy the process. I finally got to use the new roughing gouge that I got last Christmas, and boy, was it a treat. The little picture doesn’t do it justice — the gouge is huge, with a 2″ scoop shown in the picture. It cleaned up the blank quickly and with minimal chatter, and I was actually able to use it for the whole turning. I should probably have used a sharper tool at the end, because I had some slightly torn grain on the figured portions of the cherry, but it sanded out nicely.


After sanding down to 1600 grit, I cut the ends free, removed it from the lathe, and started coating it with food-safe oil. I kept coming back to it all evening to add more oil, and I think I’ve put on about as much as it’s going to take right now.

This morning, I got to re-experience one of the pleasures of woodworking with which non-woodworkers are probably unfamiliar: the wonderful smell of fresh-cut cherry still permeating my garage as I left for work. And yes, the smell of cut cherry is distinctly different than the smell of fresh-cut maple, oak, and walnut, and completely different than the smell of pitch from softwood (pine, fir).

Schedule permitting, I’ll be able to take it to Gail tomorrow night.

2 Responses to “Cherry and Maple Rolling Pin”

  1. William says:

    Thanks for sharing, that looks like some nice wood to work with. I used to make miniature baseball bats on a steam powered wood lathe. It is great fun to make the chips fly and end up with something fun and/or useful. :)

  2. Gail says:

    Thank you. The picture doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the rolling pin.

    The kids had better leave it alone.

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