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Lazy Susan


It may not look like it, but this is a "sketch".

Some time ago we were at a friend's house and I noticed that they had a nice, and rather large, lazy susan sitting on their dining table. (Their dining table was also a lovely mission style table in white oak, but that's not important right now...)

I found it interesting and thought that I would like to make a lazy susan for our own kitchen.

HOWEVER... I wasn't sure about the size. Our table is a different size than their table, as is our family, and so on. So I decided to make a "sketch".

I threw together a quick turntable with some scrap oak, in a few hours in the shop. I didn't even put any finish on it. This one was about 12-1/2 inches in diameter. (about 32cm). We had it on our table for a couple weeks and quickly realized that it was just too small for us.

I wanted something at least 2 inches larger in both directions. So I set out to make one that was 16-17 inches in diameter. (41-43cm)

Now one challenge is that my planer only has a capacity of 12-1/2 inches. I dimensioned my stock -- I was using Black Cherry for my lazy susan -- and was careful to use cauls while clamping to ensure that it stayed flat.

After cleaning up the glue squeeze-out and sanding it smooth I had a top that was nice and large and most importantly: flat.

I'm using a four-inch (10cm) diameter bearing for my project. You can find these in various stores or online locations, I have links to one below. Just search for "lazy susan bearing".

After prepping the top and bottom I cut both of them into a square on the tablesaw. Now, given that I am turning these into circles, you might wonder why I made them a square first.

I made it a square so that I could connect the corners with a straight edge to find the center. I would use the center to later draw a circle for cutting out. I also used the X that I drew to locate and position the bearing on the piece.

The bearing has four mounting holes on each side. I positioned them on the X that I drew, and moved it around until the lines from the X were visible through the mounting holes. This centered the bearing. I then made marks on the board for where to drill the mounting holes. This is why the board needed to be a square. It wouldn't work if the board was a rectangle -- the lines from the X would not line up in the mounting holes.

I then used the bearing itself as a sort of compass to draw a circle. (Just on the bottom board, not the top board!) This would tell me how large a section needed to be excavated later. I want to recess the bearing in to the base to hide it, so we need to excavate a circle of wood in the middle.

I don't have a large compass or a beam compass. I just use a strip of wood with some holes in it. I put an awl in one hole and put that in the middle, and then a pencil in the other hole, and draw a circle. Repeat this on the top and bottom board to outline the size of the top and bottom of the lazy susan.

Here is a look at the bottom board after all the lines have been drawn and the holes drilled. In the inset photo you can see the bearing in place. The inner circle will be routed out to make room for the bearing to be recessed -- not completely, it does need clearance to turn. The outer ring marks the shape of the lazy susan -- the base in this case.

Here is a key part to this process: I will be excavating about 3/8" or so -- about 3/4 of the thickness of the bearing plate -- So I drill the holes at least 1/8" DEEPER. That way, after I excavate the recess, I still will know where to fit the bearing plate, as the holes will still be visible.

I'm using a "hinge mortise" router bit to excavate the circle. This is a bottom-cleaning bit, where the carbide extends across the bottom of the bit, not just along the sides.

I used a palm router to excavate the recess. I just did this freehand. Sure, I could make a template or even do it on the CNC, but I didn't see the point. This excavation will never be visible -- see the photo above that shows the bottom of the "sketch" lazy susan -- so I'm not worried about perfection. It doesn't really matter if you route outside the lines a few times.

Here is a picture of the excavation with the bearing in place. It's not a perfect circle, but it's fine. You can just see at the bottom-right how the upper part of the bearing plate clears the excavation.

I then took the pieces to the bandsaw and cut out the circle of the bottom and top of the lazy susan. I then cleaned up the circle on my disc sander.

I also took the two pieces to the router table and used a small roundover bit to ease the top and bottom edges of both pieces. This smooths the piece but also helps hide if there are any flaws along the edge of the circle.

Since this is going in the kitchen, I know that it's going to get wet sooner or later, so I want to finish it with polyurethane. However, I first applied a coat of shellac, which helps pop the colour of the cherry wood. Shellac is known as the "universal sealer", so it can go under most any finish.

I also needed to drill an access hole through the base. You assemble the lazy susan by first screwing the bearing plate to the base. But then you need a way to be able to screw the bearing plate to the underside of the top, and that is why we need at least one access hole.

(Left photo) Here I am fastening the lazy susan bearing to the base...

(Right photo) ...and then here I am using the access hole to screw the base and bearing to the underside of the top.

Here are a few photos of the finished Lazy Susan. A quick fun project, but still has a few challenging steps to make it the best.

And to all the ladies out there named Susan... I apologize. I'm sure that you are all lovely active energetic and NON-lazy people. I have no idea where the name came from but as a white male I'm sure that it is probably some dumb sexist patriarchal historical thing. Again, Sorry!

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)


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See Also:

Cool Custom Beach Chairs

Stylish Cutting Board

End Grain Coasters

"Mirror" Image Cutting Boards