Father’s Day Flippers

These are called pigtail flippers, bbq turners, or I have also heard Texas toothpicks.  Whatever you call them, they are cool tools for the grill.  Here is me demonstrating their use on a set of serious pork chops for my father in law.

20180616_120333I wanted to try one of these tools, and my localish woodcraft had these new kits on sale.  Why not make one for myself and the dads in my life?  I picked up some thick maple dowel to make these handles.  I was building the handles for my mom’s bookbinding press at the same time, so it all worked out.


The first step is to drill out a hole for the threaded insert, and carefully thread it in.  I had an issue.  Most kits use 1/4-20 or 5/16-18 threaded inserts.  This one had an M6 insert for the metal turner rod.  I don’t have an M6 mandrel, and I couldn’t find one online.  Time to make one!  I played around, but ultimately a nut and bolt with the head cut off did the trick.

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That let me thread the brass insert into the handle, but I would normally flip the part around and chuck the mandrel up so I could spin with no tail stock.  No such luck here, the bolt is too small for all of my chuck jaws (right picture).  I could try to chuck up the nut, but it has 6 sides and the jaws all have 4.  If I did a lot of these, I would have to figure out how to make my own mandrel.


Instead of holding it by the threaded insert I turned down a shoulder to accept a brass bushing, then chucked up that shouldered section.  It marred the surface, but that will get covered anyways.

With 4 different variations turned I remembered I was supposed to drill a hole in them for their hanging cable.  This would have been a lot easier when they were simple cylinders still.  Order of operations on the lathe is super critical.  I put the whole lot of them on little sticks and went to town with the spray polyurethane.

I pressed on the brass bushing with epoxy and threaded on the turner.  The wire cable as a hanging strap adds a nice touch.  I hadn’t broken out the lathe in quite a while, so this was quite satisfying to get these done with minimal screw ups.

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One other minor experiment that happened when I had my lathe out was to try and smooth out my 3D printed can koozie.  It turns out that you can really shine that stuff up if you go through the grits.  There are minor voids that show through upon close inspection.  Still, that is a nice shiny looking part.  You could polish up most of a chess set this way!

Bookbinding Press

During a visit to my crafty mother, I came across a good build to support her habits.  She showed me a series of bookbinding finishing presses.  I am not super familiar with how they work, but they looked a lot like a moxon vise.  I am planning out a moxon vise build of my own, so this would be a good learning experience and make a great gift.

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Traditional books have a lot of layers of material that need gluing together.  This helps keep it all clamped for various operations.  The side wings let you clamp it to a table, and with it hanging over the edge, any length book can be held.  The jaws will open to accept a 3″ thick book, and there are 13 inches between the screws, allowing for a very tall book.  5/16″-18 hand screws should provide plenty of clamping force.  The hand screws come out, so it can be disassembled and packed into a smaller space.


I started with the backbone and dovetails.  If something was going to get screwed up, it was the dovetails.  I need to cut a lot for an upcoming project and I am beyond rusty.  Mark, saw edges, fret away waste and pare the rest.

My dovetail transfer jig has already come in handy.  The pins look pretty rotten, but they should be very structurally sound.  Sorry mom!


With that taken care of I glued up two pieces for the front, and added another to the backbone.  One piece was taller than the other which eventually got planed to an angle.  That gives your fingers easier access to the book spine.

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I assembled the dovetails and put on side wings that let you clamp this jig to any table or workbench.

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When all the glue was well cured I put on a few coats of polyurethane in the hopes that bookbinding glue wouldn’t stick to it.  Felt pads on the bottom should keep it from scuffing any tables.  I pounded in some threaded inserts meant for wood.  They should hold just fine, but to be sure I sank a few screws beside them.


To run the threaded rods in and out you are going to need a stout handle.  I chopped some maple dowels down to size, drilled out for a 5/16 threaded insert, reduced the entry shoulder for a brass sleeve, then flipped it around, threaded it onto a 5/16 mandril, and smoothed out the back side.

The bare wood got multiple coats of spray polyurethane, then when cured, I epoxied the brass sleeve on the handles, and the threaded rod in place.  DSC_1276.JPG