Turning a Better Honey Dipper
A while back, my wife and I picked up a nice little honey jar. We both thought the jar was attractive, but the lid didn’t fit well, and I’ve done a good bit of turning, so thought I could do better.
I started out by considering the design, with the main goal of tailoring it to fit the jar better than the original, but while monkeying with the design, I couldn’t help consider some other features too.
The original lid had the dipper attached to it, but it was a bit short, keeping the dipper from reaching the bottom of the jar… This bugged me, becuase I wouldn’t be able to get the last several helpings of honey out. To solve the problem, I thought about turning a separate dipper stick and lid, but that design doesn’t seal up very well, and here in New England we keep our windows open a lot of the year, and I didn’t want flies getting in the honey.
What I wound up doing was turning the handle and dipper all from one piece of wood, incorporating the dipper into the lid, and parting the handle free from the lid. To keep the lid from sliding down to the dipper end and getting honey all over it, I left some shoulders on the shaft of the handle.
The last addition to the design was something a bit more for fun- a little honeybee at the top. I sketched a honeybee until I liked it, and turned the profile in the round, and then cut away the material from two opposite sides, leaving just the outline of the bee- I think it turned out well, and made for a fun handle design.
For some great tips on turning, check out How to Turn a Basic Bowl.
I started off with some rough sketches to work out my ideas. On the left you can see where the ideas started, and then I realized that adding a few shoulders would keep the lid from sliding all the way down. Then I added the bee to the handle.
I marked lines across the diagonals to find the center, then drilled a shallow hole in the center and cut shallow kerfs across the end to make it easier to mount on the lathe.
I turned the blank round, then using my sketch, I marked all the features with a pencil.
After hogging away waste on each side of the lid, I used a skew to shape the lid.
With more of the waste out of the way and the lid partially formed, I marked my lines again, then started shaping the final features.
After shaping all of the major features, I turned the thin handle down to size, leaving a shoulder on each side of the lid. The last step onthe lathe was to do a little finish sanding, and use an angled scraping tool to cut the lid free from the bottom side.
After the turning was finished, I removed it from the lathe and cut off the two ends. To form the bee at the top, I turned the shape in the round.
Quite possibly the best honey dipper ever created..? You be the judge.
Here's a view of the lid from underneath that shows the shape. I basically made an angled cut in from both the top and bottom until the two cuts met, and the lid came free from the shaft.
Now with only one hand I can lift up the handle- up comes the honey and the lid, without any mess coming with it. The extra length of shaft in the middle lets me reach the bottom of the jar, too. To finish it up, I'll apply some finish, put in some local honey, and put some toast in the oven.
Then I set the bee free by carefully cutting each side of the small turning away.
All that's left is the side profile of a honeybee.