If you’re like me, every now and then you want a simple, quick item you can make, to keep for yourself or to give as a gift. Ideally, it will use small pieces of wood, allow for lots of creativity, and still be practical and beautiful. Here is a great woodturning project that meets all those criteria: an ice cream scoop.
Who doesn’t like ice cream? Even people who eschew dairy products enjoy something similar, like sorbets and rice milk- or soymilk-based frozen desserts. Using an ice cream scoop adds a touch of homemade elegance to a rather ordinary event.
Use a hard wood that will be sturdy enough to withstand getting tossed around with the other silverware without getting too dinged up. I used Formosan koa, but other tropical woods like eucalyptus, jabong (pomelo), guava or lychee would also be great. If you’ve turned a tool handle before, the process and the woods used will work for this project.
You’ll need a blank approximately 1-3/4 to 2 inches square and 6 inches long. Turn it into a cylinder. I like to use a ring center in the headstock and cone or point in the tailstock.
Then turn a tenon on one end, on the side where the end of the handle will be. The size of the tenon should fit into whatever chuck you will use.
Mount the cylinder into the chuck. Use a Jacob’s chuck in the tailstock, and insert the appropriate size drill bit, following your manufacturer’s specifications.
With the lathe running, use the crank on the tailstock to move the drill bit and chuck forward, to bore a hole to the specified depth. I put a piece of painters blue tape on the drill bit as a depth gauge. Back the bit out often, to clear out accumulated shavings.
If, like me, you do not have the exact size drill bit the manufacturer recommends, use a size smaller. You’ll need to wiggle the bit around to enlarge the hole enough to accept the scoop tang. I needed to use the drill bit in a handheld power drill afterwards, to get the hole large enough. Just follow the shape that was made by the drill bit in the Jacob’s chuck, which should be centered and pretty true.
This will be where the shaft of the ice cream scoop goes into the wood. Around that, you will place the provided ferrule, or ring of metal, which helps to provide support at the joint between scoop and wood.
Use a cone in the tailstock to support the blank. It will fit into the hole you just drilled.
Use a parting tool to get close to the diameter of the tenon you will need. Then very carefully take off “mouse whiskers” until you can fit the ferrule on snugly. Be extremely careful and patient with this step. If you turn off too much wood, you’ll need to start again from the beginning!
The decision to leave the ferrule on at this point, or remove it, is up to you. Leaving it on, you run the risk of scratching it if your tool slips. You can also choose to sand the ferrule later. Some people like the brushed metal look, and it’s a great way to cover up scratches if you’ve slipped and it looks bad.
Turn the rest of the handle, leaving a broad shoulder just behind the ferrule, for extra grip. This is where your creativity has no bounds. You can use whatever tools you are comfortable with, including spindle gouge, skew, parting tool, and scrapers.
Leave a bit of wood at the end, in front of the chuck, so you can part the handle off to finish it neatly. Before you do, however, sand the handle while it is on the lathe. I usually start with 150 grit, then work through 220, 320 and 400.
Finally, use a skew or parting tool to round off the back end of the handle and part it off from the remainder still in the chuck. If it breaks off prematurely, you can use a small chisel or sandpaper to take off the nub.
Apply a finish to the piece. Since this will get handled a lot and come into contact with a lot of moisture, I avoid polyurethanes and waxes, which won’t stand up to that use. Instead, I opt for an oil, such as walnut or salad oil, which will soak into the wood and offer some protection, yet won’t chip off later.
To complete the scoop, use epoxy to glue on the ferrule. Also add a small amount of glue in the hole where you insert the scoop tang. You can add extra glue if the fit is a little loose. Wipe off excess glue before it dries.
There you have it: a relatively quick woodturning project that even a fairly novice turner should be able to complete in a couple of hours or less (not including glue drying time.) So go make an ice cream scoop and have your dessert, too!
Find the ice cream scoop woodturning kit (not including wood) here:
Other woodturning kits: