King Pepper Shaker

This project was submitted for the Spring 2019 3D Printing and Design Competition. Participants were asked to respond to the following prompt: “We want to know how you created your project, what inspired you, what you learned along the way, and where it might lead you. In short we want you to tell us the story behind the project and reflect on the process.”


For my project I started out by making a king chess piece on its own. However I was more ambitious than that so after I successfully printed it first time I moved on to make it become a pepper shaker. The pepper shaker would require me to behead my king (its in my nature, Im French), and add a thread and a nut to screw on and tighten. I would have to add holes at the top and make the whole design hollow enough to hold a good amount of pepper. In theory my model that I created works. The threads are good sizes and the king chess piece can pass for both the pepper shaker and the chess piece.

The tools on SketchUp that I used in particular were:

‘Follow Me’ – This tool very difficult to use because round shapes would create gaps in between the 24 sides that the circle has. Otherwise I used it for my King Chess piece shown in picture 1. The follow me tool, for those unfamiliar with it can extrude a shape along a line shown in picture 2 and 3. Its a tricky tool and getting it right is not easy, in fact in some of my failed models I had to manually fill out domes and shapes to give it the smooth surface.

‘Solid Inspector’- This is not a tool found in the SketchUp app, I had to download this as an extension. This tool allows me to see where there are overlapping layers and holes in my 3D object. Shown in picture 4. It’s very useful when it comes to printing because the printer will have problems understanding how two overlapping layers can only be as thick as one. The holes obviously make the printer think that the object is hollow, just like when you fill a bucket with water and its got a hole in the bottom. I highly recommend this tool, it helped me a lot to print out my objects.

‘FredoScale’ – This is another extension which solved another issue I had. When measuring the threads for the screw I had to find a way to accurately find the diameter of one thread to make sure that the nut would fit it. So what I thought would work really well was if I used the scale tool to scale to 0. Making the object I wanted measured flat. SketchUp doesn’t let me scale 3D objects to 0 but with the extension I can, shown in picture 5 and 6. Unfortunately, scaling an object to 0 and exploding it to retrieve individual segments crashed my computer so many times that many of my work got lost. This made me learn that the code behind SketchUp had trouble understanding how a 3 dimensional object could become 2 dimensional, as I learnt this I got a sneak peak into the mind of SketchUp.

‘X-ray mode’ – Super helpful seeing through objects when the zoom and move around button becomes too sensitive. This allowed me to work at a distance and not have to zoom in on my hollow design all the time.

My project is still being worked on since when my print came out, Picture 7, the top of the chess piece didn’t fit the bottom even though the thread and the nut sizes were matching. Dave told me that the 3D printers aren’t the most precise however I believe that with all the scaling that I did it is possible that the height of each individual thread changed the slope and so that is why it didn’t fit. In Picture 7 the one on the left was too big and the one on the right was too small. The one in the middle is in the trash unfortunately because it got stuck on my bottom piece and broke of the neck of the chess piece. I should be more careful in the future to not force bolts and nuts into each other. I’m planning on downloading a better thread and nut the next time around, one that requires less precision. Attaching it and making the thread hollow wont be an issue however making the holes at the top of the pepper shaker will because the printer won’t understand why there are holes in my design and will misprint it. I printed out letters spelling pepper out which i will super glue on the six sided nut which will clarify what the object is in case people can’t tell if its salt or pepper.

One more thing: The directionality (whether it is white or blue: Picture 8) of the face on an object in SketchUp is very important as rendering it as an image or a 3D print makes the software think it is inverted or facing the correct way. Making a shape with many different faces required me to orient the faces in the right way to make the printer know which side was ‘inside’ and which side was ‘out’.

I could bore you with the semantics of how I did each step but I don’t think its relevant compared to the important things.

My future plans: I’m hoping on successfully making my King piece after that all I have to do is change the colour of the print to white take off the cross at the top and make a queen. Perhaps even a whole chess set with loads of different herbs and spices in each different piece. It would make a nice present for my mom.

I want to thank: Mr Tatem, Professor Marino, Sam, Iryna, the entire STA team and Youtube for helping me along the way. Created by Oscar Dial.