The Lazy Susan, or turntable, can be a stylish and functional addition to your dining room or kitchen. Just imagine sitting down to a hearty holiday meal where everyone can reach every plate without feeling uncomfortable reaching over or asking someone else to put down their fork and pass the fries. And if you build one yourself, you’ll have a conversation-starting hub ready for every gathering
In essence, the Lazy Susan is a circular cutting board on top of a smaller circular cutting board with a turntable device sandwiched between them. The end result looks impressive, but fear not—it’s a project that anyone with moderate woodworking skill can handle. It’s built 18-inches from maple, with walnut accents, but there are so many ways to customize yours. Perhaps you want to use different types of wood, turn the boards over so the edges or finish show through, or even burn designs into your piece. Whatever your personal aesthetic, you can find a way to make a Lazy Susan that feels unique to you or the person you’re making it for.
warning: DIY projects can be dangerous, even for the most experienced DIYers. Before embarking on this or any other project on our site, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment and know how to use it properly. At a minimum, this may include safety goggles, a face mask, and/or ear protection. If you use power tools, you must know how to use them safely and correctly. If you don’t, or are uncomfortable with anything described here, don’t attempt this project.
- time: 6 to 8 hours
- The cost of material: From $40 to $100
- difficulty: Moderate
How to build a DIY Lazy Susan
1. Cut the boards for large and small Lizzy Susans. For my 18″ and 10″ circles, I cut the maple board into four 19″ lengths for the top and three 11″ lengths for the bottom. Next, cut (or square) the boards so that the two edges are parallel to each other and perpendicular to one face of the board. If you do not have a file conductorYou can do this on a table saw.
We have a detailed guide on How to join wood without jointing, but I can summarize the basics. First, place a level next to the table saw fence and press the most concave edge of the board against the level. Then adjust the saw fence so that the blade removes a sliver from the other edge of the board, pushing the board and level together to make the cut. This will create a straight, vertical edge on the bottom panel face. Next, flip the board over, keeping the same face down, and cut the other edge with the table saw fence as normal (without level). Do this with all planks for planks.
2. Glue the longer lengths together to form the top panel. Spread glue on the edges of each piece of wood and clamp them together in a roughly square shape, using a pair of clamps under the form. Then place two more clips on top, about a third of the way inward on each end, and tighten. Having clamps at the top and bottom will help prevent the boards from warping while the glue dries. If you want, you can add clamping cauls To ensure that the glue sticks flat.
Tighten the clamps until the glue squeezes out of all the seams. If no glue comes out, you’re not using enough. Wipe up as much of the glue you’re squeezing on with a damp paper towel while the glue is still damp. This will make life easier when you sand the board later.
- Professional adviceYou can place thin pieces of a different type of wood between the lengths to create a decorative, striped look. My Lazy Susan, as mentioned above, is made of light-colored maple with dark walnut accent stripes.
3. Glue the shorter lengths to form the bottom panel. All you have to do here is repeat the previous step with the smaller pieces of wood.
4. Smooth or flatten the two plates. Once the glue has dried according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s time to flatten the boards. It should be very flat indeed, but there will be some ridges and misalignment in the seams. The easiest way to get the job done is by using Great planer, but not many people have access to a 20-inch flatbed, myself included. Alternatively, an orbital sander and 60-grit sandpaper are an effective, easy-to-use way to align those seams and remove any remaining glue. You can also use a belt sander or a hand plane.
5. Draw your circles. It’s tempting to use the string method to draw a circle: hammer a nail into the center of the board, tie string around it, and tie a pencil to the string about a radius from the nail. And honestly, that’s what I did first. Unfortunately, the string bent and the pen tilted slightly while drawing in a circle. Not much, but enough that my “round” was about a quarter of an inch shorter along one diameter then another.
A better strategy is to use a long piece of flat wood instead of string. After gluing a nail approximately in the middle of each plank (make sure you don’t screw in the face you want the lazy susan top to be), drill a nail-sized hole in one end of a thin piece of scrap, then drill two more holes large enough for a pencil to stick out of. Two circles radius (5 and 9 inches away from the center nail).
When the template is ready, slip the scrap over the nail in the larger board and rotate that wood methodically to trace the larger circle. Repeat this with the smaller board. The wood won’t flex or allow the pencil to move as much as the string, and you should end up with two near-perfect discs.
And of course, if you have a foolproof way of drawing circles, use it.
6. Cut out your circles. There are several ways to do this. The easiest is to use a circular cutter and plunge router. If you have access to these, you can actually skip step 5. But I don’t have either, so I used a jigsaw, a palm router, and an orbital sander.
Start by cutting out one of the circles with the jigsaw, staying outside the line. Once you have finished cutting, cut the line using a palm router and a straight cut bit. Take your time with this so you don’t slip and get cut in the circle. Finally, clean up all edges with a random orbital sander and 60-grit sandpaper. If you don’t have a router, you can use an orbital sander to get to the line, but it may take longer to remove enough material.
- NB: You may have noticed the bevel along the bottom of my top board. The beveled edges look great, and I put them on all my cutting boards, but chamfering the circle seemed like too much work and I had no intention of doing it. Then my router got caught in a knot and tore off a large portion of the top panel. To fix the piece, I beveled the bottom, using my orbital sander with 60-grit sandpaper to create a roughly 45-degree bevel around the whole thing. It took a long time, and I don’t recommend it. But it looks great. However, I probably wouldn’t add a bevel to the next turntable unless I had to.
7. Pre-drilled holes for the turntable hardware. The best drill to use for this step is a drill bit smaller than the shaft of the screws included with your turntable. Before drilling, center the spinner on the correct side of the board (below the top board and above the bottom board).
The easiest and quickest way I’ve found to center is to draw two perpendicular diagonals across each circle. Draw one through the original nail hole using a straightener or level. Then use the speed square to place that straight edge perpendicular to the first line and draw the second diagonal.
Align each of the screw holes in the rotary device on these diameter lines. If there is a visible line in the middle of each hole, you are in the middle. Mark the position and drill each of the pilot holes.
- NB: This method will only work if there are four screw holes forming a square. Any other configuration and you’ll need to center the device differently.
8. Drill an access hole in the bottom plate. To actually connect the spinner, you’ll connect it first to the bottom plate, then to the top. However, there isn’t enough space between them to use a screwdriver or drill, so you’ll need to drill an access hole.
To find the correct location, put the spinner back into place on the bottom plate. Then rotate the swivel device piece that attaches to the top plate so that the screw hole blank is over the wood, not the metal. Mark this position, then drill an inch hole through the bottom plate. This will act as an access hole so you can screw the device to the top plate.
(Optional) 9. Orientation of the internal parts of the rotating device. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it will make it easier to install the device. As you mark the pilot holes, trace the outlines of the hardware. Then, using a router and a straight cutting bit, rout the inside to the same depth as the metal turner’s thickness. This inner part will hold the device in place when you try to install it, which will be a huge help.
10. Sand both circles smooth. Sanding is the key to great looking woodworking. At this point in the project I’ve already sanded everything flat with 60 grit paper. Now use the orbital sander to move though the remaining grit: 80, 120, 150, and finally 220. I rarely see the point of going higher than 220 grit, and this project is no different. The high grit can close the pores of the wood, making it difficult to soak in the oil, and the 220-grit feels very smooth to the touch. There is a diminishing RQA above 220 which seems not worth the time.
The only thing to be careful of is not to spoil the curve of the boards, which can easily be done with an orbital sander. To avoid this, I hand sanded the edges with sanding sponges.
Once you have finished sanding to 220 you will need to file the wood grain and sand again. When wood gets wet, the fibers absorb moisture and swell, creating a rough texture on even the finest sanded projects. To combat this, use a spray bottle to wet the wood after sanding with the 220-grit paper, let it dry, and then lightly sand it by hand with the 220 again. The soft texture will remain.
11. Finish the top and bottom panels. I used two coats of butcher block conditioner, which is a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax that is easy to apply and food safe. I used Howard’s because that’s available at my local hardware store, but any brand should be fine.
Simply pour some oil on the board and spread it with either a lint-free cloth or a plastic spreader until the wood is completely saturated (old driver’s licenses and credit cards work great for this). Allow the paint to soak in according to the manufacturer’s recommended timing, then wipe off any excess or apply a second coat if the wood is fully soaked.
If you need something permanent and durable, consider using it Finished wood bowl.
12. Install the turning hardware. The last step is to attach the gyro. This is easy, but order matters.
Screw the swivel to the bottom plate first, using the pre-drilled pilot holes from Step 7. Then turn the entire unit upside down and place the swivel on the top plate. This is where the inch access hole you drilled in step 8 comes into play. You should be able to turn the bottom plate until the large hole is over one of the screw holes in the top plate. Using a screwdriver or drill, drive in the first screw, then rotate the bottom plate to the next screw location.
This is faster and less frustrating with a magnetic screwdriver or drill bit, because it’s very easy to drop a screw into that small hole.
Now all you have to do is decide what it should serve first. Thanksgiving and other holiday meals are an obvious choice, given the array of dishes you’re likely to have on the table, but you should be able to find many uses for your homemade Susan. Tacos, for example, are always a crowd pleaser, since there are so many ingredients that your family has to keep rotating to get to them all.
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