Pilon + Maceta

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Forum topic by BuyoMasilla posted 02-19-2012 07:45 PM 2764 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BuyoMasilla's profile


104 posts in 2541 days

02-19-2012 07:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple hickory oak lathe carving turning rustic traditional modern

Greetings Fellow Lumberjocks,

Wasn’t sure where to fit this question and settled with the non shop talk, I think it fits. I’m seeking advice on how to make a tool for a different shop. I know many a LJs are not just well traveled, but from all parts of the world, as well as individuals of many interests and skills. Though my skills are limited (in many areas including wood work) my interests vary and are a few. I’ve picked up tools and wood over the last year or two, but prior to that I spent my spare resources and time chasing fish for instance. I am a skilled eater, and enjoy going into the kitchen and mixing things up.

Though I now reside in UT, I’m originally from PR. Few years back my Mom sent me a Pilon y Maceta (mortar & pestle in English and P&M for short). This tool came from Haiti and is made of wood. It might have been meant to be a decorative vessel, but I put it to work in the kitchen. I’m sure there’s at least an LJ out there who has been to my native homeland and tried some mofongo. That’s what I used my P&M mostly for. I’ve discontinued using mine because there was a branch in the blank it was turned from which is now protuding inside and catches food when used.

I googled P&M images and a lot of things came up, the first ones are of P&M ( Not sure if the link is going to work but if it does it will get you a visual of what I’m referring to.

My question to those of you who enjoy turning, if you were going to make one of this, what wood would you use? Could lamination be used, or a big chunk of wood would be needed for starters? Would you consider this a begginers project or would this be advanced? Another question, do you think the one I have may be rescued? P&M should be ten to twelve inches tall and maybe five to six inches in diameter. It is a mortar and the pestle should be substantial enough to cover a substantial area of the cavity base.

I’m not a turner or currently have a lathe, but there’s an outside chance I may inherit one one of this years. You know what I would like my first project to be. I miss my mofongo!

I look forward to and thank you for your thoughts. Thanks for reading.


-- Dreaming of the day I might joint two pieces of wood square..........

4 replies so far

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2627 days

#1 posted 02-19-2012 09:22 PM

I am of beginner/intermediate skill with my lathe. I would say this to be a realatively easy project, basically a bowl and a spindle. I would suggest that as with any wood that is going to come into contact with food you use a wood that is fine grain and has the smallest pores possible. Additionally the wood you choose shouldn’t have any sort of toxic properties. Hard maple for example comes to mind here.
I think lamination would be okay, although if used and exposed to moisture you could possibly end up with uneven expansion like what has happened with the knot in the P&M you currently have.
I would give it a shot and let us know how it turns out!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2786 days

#2 posted 02-19-2012 10:40 PM

My choice of wood for a project like that would be holly, yew, apple, plum, and the list goes on. I think that a laminated one would work fine, as long as you used a fine grain wood.
I took a look at the link and there were lots of different sized P&M’s. Size for me would be a product of what wood I have available. You might be able to make a smaller one with the tools you already have. Once you get the lathe, making them would be good practice. You would be doing some spindle turning and bowl turning.

-- Mel,

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2991 days

#3 posted 02-20-2012 02:22 AM

As far as the turning, it is a pretty basic item. To an experienced turner, maybe 15 min job for each part at an easy pace. About 3 min/piece for someone doing production work. To a beginner it might take a couple tries because of the hollowing. You would need either a faceplate or a chuck to do the bowl.

There is nothing in Mofongo that would require special consideration for the wood other than foodsafe. Maple isn’t bad. I would stay away from exotics. Too many unknowns. Fruit wood like apple or pear would do well too. Something fine grained for sanitary reasons. I would stay away from glues in it unless you went to one of the dynawood or other laminated blocks because of the chance of the wood splitting as it will go through many wet/dry cycles. If it wouldn’t be too expensive, I would even consider man made materials such as Corian for long term stability.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2627 days

#4 posted 02-21-2012 09:22 AM

Are you alive?

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

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