Today I’m going to try to make a plate to flip my Spanish omelettes like this one. I don’t think they’re used much outside of Spain, so it might not look familiar to many of you. If you are interested in building your own flipper, here you can download the free plans.
They’re used to flip omelettes on the pan like this, and also to serve them. And there’s always been something about them that bothered me. When you put them on the table, they wobble because the handle, which doubles as base, has such a small contact surface. This is especially noticeable when cutting the omelette.
After a lot of thought I’ve come up with a solution for this problem, which you can see in this 3D SketchUp model. A machined handle carved into the flipper itself. I’m going to make it slightly slanted for a better grip. A curved rebates will be made on the sides so that we can grab it when it’s on the table. In the third pic we can also see that the lid is a little concave, about 3mm in the center.
These are usually made with pine wood, but since I don’t have wood that wide, I’m going to glue these two pieces of maple and cherry wood, always a good combination.
First I cut both wood pieces lengthwise on my table saw. I’m going to make all their faces parallel and give them the desired width with my jointer and thickness planer (second pic). Then I’ll mark the joint between the two, and after a few final cuts, I’m going to prepare my template to make box joint jigs. I’ll use this technique to join both wood pieces. The bond will be much more resistent and pleasing to the eye.
As I said in previous videos, this piece should have the same thickness as the disc we’re using… and the template will move like this (third pic). I made this template on a CNC, but if you don’t have one, you can make a template by gluing pieces of plywood of the desired thickness until you meet the necessary length.
I fasten the piece to the template with clamps and start the process carefully. To use this system, you must stop the pieces you want to join on one of the ends, and the next one on the opposite end. Also, you need to be extra cautious when the disc juts out of the back of the table sled. Carelessness could be costly.
Time to glue the parts together. I apply glue on all the faces of the fingers and apply pressure with some clamps. The joints between fingers should be tight, but not too much. If there is too much pressure, because of the large contact surface, it could be impossible to join both pieces. It’s also important to make sure the faces are flat.
Once the glue is dry, I mark the desired diameter and cut with the jig saw. Using the same center, I mark the exact place to screw in the lathe faceplate. These screw holes will disappear when I machine the flipper handle.
I mount the plate on the lathe and start giving shape to the flipper’s upper surface with a roughing gouge. As I said before, this face will be a little concave, about 3mm in the center. Now it’s time to turn the edge.
I’ll try to obtain the diameter I want to my pan with the roughing gouge, and I’ll use this bowl gouge to make it curved. As the lathe turns, I’ll sand this face and edge, with P120 and P240 grit sandpaper. I’ll also apply pure linseed oil all over its surface.
I remove the flipper and faceplate. As you can see, the tip of the lathe’s spindle juts out a little and left marks in the back of the flipper. This will be helpful as I place the flipper the other way on the lathe.
For that, I’ll also use this homemade chuck, but since it’s maximum grip diameter is not enough, I’m going to remove these silent blocks. In their place, I’ll use double sided tape, which will help me avoid damaging the finished side of the flipper. And when I attach it, it will also stop it from moving as I machine it. I put the stoptail in place, tighten all the screws and start machining the handle. For that I’ll use a parting tool and bowl gouge.
I’ll try to give the handle the desired angle to obtain a steadier, more comfortable grip. I flatten the lower face to make it more stable when it’s on a table. It’s important to make sure the center does not stick out more than the edge. Here I also sand and apply some pure linseed oil. Finally, I remove the center wooden leftover part by hand.
The first few tests in the workshop are successful! I think this will come in handy. The handle is comfortable, and avoids the unsteadiness issue I mentioned in the beginning.
As I said before, the combination of maple and cherry is always very elegant, and these kinds of wood are very easy to obtain. Of course, we could also use other types of wood and in one piece.
But keep in mind that some kinds of wood are toxic and some others give off strong smells, and should be avoided when making kitchen utensils. Take a look at this other article to see the flipper in action!