Turned Cocktail Smoker

Published Sunday, January 15, 2023 by Bryan

I hope you weren't getting worried that this blog had turned into all motorcycle videos all the time. If you have been missing the woodworking content, this post is for you.

For this year's family Christmas exchange, I drew the name of someone I've shared many cocktails with, now that we live much closer to each other. So, to broaded their bar's capabilities, I made them a cocktail smoker.

Two small snifter glasses with sailing ships etched on their sides, each holding a small portion of brown liquid. Atop one glass sits a wooden cocktail smoker. A segment of the smoker with multiple holes drilled in it hangs into the glass.
Cocktail smoker sitting atop a snifter.

I have very limited experience turning, and no lathe of my own, so after preparing my pieces of wood, I borrowed some time an guidance in my father-in-law's shop.

Layout for the bottom of the smoker. The X-ed corners outside the large circle will be removed completely. The part between that circle and the largest inner circle will be removed for an inch from this face, leaving the cylinder hanging into the glass.
Layout for the inside of the smoker. The center circle will be drilled in 5/16 inch to from this face, to produce the smoking well. The part between there and the 'leave' ring will be lowered 3/32 inch to make space for the top of the wire burning basket. The part outside the leave ring will be removed for 1/8 inch from this face, producing a lip around which the lid will fit.

The body is hard maple. I wanted the body to be a single piece, so that I wouldn't have to worry about fire degrading a glue line. Maple is the only stock I had thick enough to make that happen. I've since learned that I should have glued additional sacrificial stock to the piece. That both pushes the lathe's supports farther apart, to make more room for the tool rest, and also makes it easier to remove the bits of wood that the lathe's attachments chew up.

The unfinished handle, attached to the unfinished lid. Three distinct pieces of walnut are visible between the two thin purpleheat strips on the front edge.

The handle is a multi-way lamination of walnut and purpleheart. The segmentation of the walnut isn't quite as visible as I expected it to be. The purpleheart, though, is a surprise. In low-light, it's hardly noticable. But when a glare of sunlight hits it, it shines brightly.

Smoker demonstration.

I added some glassware to the gift. The gift receiver is an artist, and has drawn many nautical settings, so when I saw these at a local antique store, I knew they were the right choice. They fit the smoker so well, and give a great view of the swirling smoke.

Purpleheart differentiating itself from the walnut in the sunlight.

The finish is a simple beeswax and mineral oil blend on the outside, and torch char on the inside. I didn't want something that would smell or release toxic fumes under fire, but thought it should still have some environmental protection.

Four small jars packed with wood shavings. The lids are labeled with the wood name and a small drawing of a leaf of that tree.
Jars of shavings for smoking.

It also needs something to fill the smoke well with! I packed a few small jars with hand plane shavings of my own favorites: hickory, maple, oak, and cherry. If you make smoked cocktails, let me know what wood you like to use!

Categories: Woodworking