The Cleverest Waitress In The World

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Project by Mr M's Woodshop posted 02-18-2016 06:47 AM 2357 views 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We don’t know. We just don’t know.

The origin of the term “Lazy Susan” was probably in the 20th century … it was used to promote Ovington’s $8.50 mahogany “Revolving Server or Lazy Susan” in a 1917 Vanity Fair ad. That ad also stated that the device was “the cleverest waitress in the world.”

That points to the probable origin of the device, which was first observed in Europe in the 17th century … probably as a replacement for servants. That same ad says the price of $8.50 is “an impossibly low wage for a good servant.”

Some people have tried to say Thomas Jefferson invented them … but that isn’t true. He did not use them at Monticello. These revolving devices were certainly used in the 1700s in Europe and the US, but they were called “dumb waiters.”

A dumb waiter because they could not speak?

A lazy Susan because servants were generically known as “Susan?”

No clue.

The pieces are all about 17” in diameter. Woods that are featured include Jarrah, Purpleheart, Canarywood, Caribbean Rosewood, Cherry, Black Walnut, Hard Maple, Birdseye Maple & African Teak.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

5 comments so far

View majuvla's profile


14165 posts in 3195 days

#1 posted 02-18-2016 07:17 AM

Interesting and very educational story. Beautiful various patterns of all boards.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View JimRochester's profile


547 posts in 1942 days

#2 posted 02-18-2016 12:00 PM

I kept getting requests for large lazy susans so I made a bunch and held my breath. They are a pain in the a$$ because they are heavy and just a couple fit in the totes so dragging them back and forth to shows was a pain. I will say though that they did sell well. I made them in 2” increments up to 24” in diameter. I use the kreg circle cutting jig for my bandsaw. As long as it doesn’t shift while cutting I get good results.

Good luck on yours. Beautiful specimens. More colorful than what I came up with.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3395 days

#3 posted 02-18-2016 04:35 PM

I’ve made a couple of bigger ones, but I’ve stuck with the 17” size that is the most portable for me. These sell very well, and in the “stripey” style I like to make, are unusual (apparently) in SoCal.

I make plain ones as well, but my experience is the more colorful are the attention getters that sell most quickly. I really like plain Walnut & plain Maple boards, but they sell slowly. I always try to keep some of each, because everyone likes different stuff.

Thank goodness!

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View bondogaposis's profile


5323 posts in 2679 days

#4 posted 02-19-2016 12:21 AM

Nicely done.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2518 days

#5 posted 02-21-2016 06:51 PM

Great job.Very nice.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

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