Purim woodworking treats

Happy Purim!

Purim is just a couple of weeks away, so what should a woodworker do? Yup, make a grogger! I guess I better tell you what a grogger is for those of you who are not Red Sea Pedestrians. A grogger is a noise maker, they come in different styles and can go by many other names, but the type of noisemaker I made is traditionally called a grogger in the Jewish community. You can use other types of noisemakers for Purim, but the wooden types are my favorites.

What’s that? What is Purim? Oh,,,,,Purim is a  festival that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people living throughout the ancient Persian Empire from a plot by (the evil) Haman the Agagite to annihilate us, as recorded in the Book of Esther (Megillas Esther). According to the story, Haman cast lots to determine the day upon which to exterminate the Jews. On Purim, we read the Book of Esther aloud, and whenever the name, Haman, is read, we boo and use our noise makers to blot out his name.

Okay, enough of the cultural history lesson, now on with the woodworking! I was asked to make a grogger, and I recently saw a video about how to make one by Stevin Marin, so I decided to give it a go. I am basically following what the video did, except I am going to “fancy it up a bit.”

Planing the body

First, I found a rough cut piece of walnut and using my hand planes and a saw, got it to its final dimensions (about 18” long, 3” wide and ¾” thick) Then I put it on the router table, and using a ¾” straight cutting bit, ran the bit down the center of both sides of the board slowly raising the bit until there was about an 1/8” of material left in the center. We’ll call this thin part the flapper.

On the router table

Freeing the flapper per se





I cut off about 3” or so of the flapper, then freed the rest of the flapper from the body with a band saw. Now the flapper can move freely up and down.

To make the cog, I used a 3” hole saw first to score the wood, then I marked out 8 points, and used a ½” forsner bit to make the cog shape. Once those were cut through, I finished cutting out the piece with the hole saw.

Making the cog shape

The cog





Holding everything together is done with a 3/8″ thick dowel that runs through the body and the cog. For a lack of a better term, I’ll call that the central dowel. In the video, he creates a handle by using a thicker piece of dowel stock, and drills a hole into one end, matching the diameter of the central dowel. I had some 7/8″ thick dowel stock that was perfect for the handle. After I did the initial drilling, I put the handle on the lathe and turned a nice shape for the size of my hand.

The handle

The basic setup





I also needed to make a cap to top off the central dowel. Once again, I cut off a chunk of the 7/8″ dowel stock, I drilled a 3/4″ hole in one end, mounted it up on the lathe and turned a sphere, kinda like the top of a flag pole.

To complete the grogger, I rounded off the edges of the body. Now that all the construction was done, I coloured the body and the handle with a mix of dark walnut and red-brown dyes. This made a nice warm shade of color that I really like. The cog was made from mahogany, and I left it its natural color for a bit contrast. For the cap, I used a “rub on gold leaf” product, and buffed it up to a nice shine. Next I assembled the grogger and glued on the handle and the cap. Now it was ready for a couple of coats of shellac and finally a couple of coats of wax.

The grogger is pretty long, so you really need to hold it over your head to spin it; and to avoid potential lawsuits, I suggest you have some room as to not klop the guy next to you.

Now you can’t have a “recipe” for a grogger without a recipe for Hamantashen (a traditional cookie made for Purim).  This a non-traditional chocolate Hamantashen dough that my wife created. Enjoy!

Amount Ingredient notes
2 1/4 cups flour AP, unbleached
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cups cocoa
2 pinches espresso instant coffee powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbls. margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cups orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Add flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt to medium bowl. Wisk well to combine. Add margarine and sugar to mixing bowl and using stand or hand-held mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 min. Add egg and mix 1 min. Mix in orange juice and vanilla. Add in flour/cocoa mixture. Mix until incorporated. Shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 min.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Divide dough in half. Recover one half and return to refrigerator. Place other half on parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Roll into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with 3 in circle cookie cutter. Place circles on parchment lined baking sheet. Put spoonful of filling in center and pinch into triangle shape, folding over dough at corners so it holds the shape. Bake 11 min. Let cool on sheet for 2 min, then transfer cookies to cooling rack. Repeat until all the dough has been used. 

Although not traditional, I always wanted to make a chocolate dough for the Hamantashen. This is what I came up with. For filling, chocolate, peanut butter, or white chocolate are my favorites.


About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in In Yaakov's Workshop and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Purim woodworking treats

  1. Hi Yaakov,

    Thanks for the post. I do not have the tools for such a piece, but perhaps I can carve a smaller version. I do teach about Purim in my classes. The recipe is also of interest to me. I have passed it on to my wife and girls, see if they will pick up on it and try to make some. Will let you know. “For such a time as this….”

  2. cobweb says:

    What a great post, Yaakov. I love the cultural prologue, and could live with more when appropriate, and it certainly does not detract. It adds to the whole picture you paint.

    Your Grogger is known in the UK, but not as a religious tool for drowning out the hated name of an oppressor…but as a noise maker used many years ago at football (soccer) matches. Not that I’d ever have used one…can’t stand football!

    But I might have to make one to give to my daughter for sports day at school. When the Head complains I’ll give her your blog address 🙂



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