Malted Milk Ball Dispenser

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Project by Glen posted 03-10-2012 03:04 AM 4655 views 17 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just completed this malted milk ball dispenser. The wood is cherry. It still has to be finished and I’m not sure what to use. I am thinking of just varnishing it but I am not sure if varnish is food-safe after it dries. Does anyone out there have any ideas about what type of food-safe finishes I could use?


Here is a video of it in action. If you watch carefully you will see that the remaining milk balls do not roll to the hole. Sometimes the dispenser has to be shaken slightly to get them to roll to the hole. Otherwise it works quite well.

-- Glen

20 comments so far

View lew's profile


12846 posts in 4240 days

#1 posted 03-10-2012 03:11 AM

I’d use water based Poly.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30428 posts in 2823 days

#2 posted 03-10-2012 03:16 AM

Boiled linseed oil or tung oil. I like water based poly, but some of it is not food safe.Cabot brand water based poly is food safe (I actually talked to their customer service) but it is more expensive. Nice project & good candy.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View mporter's profile


253 posts in 3063 days

#3 posted 03-10-2012 03:34 AM

You can’t go wrong with shellac. I use a product by general finishes called salad bowl finish. Works great.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4703 days

#4 posted 03-10-2012 03:42 AM

That’s pretty cool. Now we need a video demonstration! :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 2803 days

#5 posted 03-10-2012 04:00 AM

None of the gum ball machines really caught my eye. But Whopper’s? Now you’re talkin’. Do both bars slide?

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View Glen's profile


116 posts in 3562 days

#6 posted 03-10-2012 04:14 AM

Yes both bars slide. The milk balls can be dropped one at a time or a bunch at a time if both bars are open. Sometimes it has to be tipped a little bit to get a milk ball right over the opening because they are not all exactly the same size and they tend to block the opening. There is 1/2 thick board on the lower part of the back side so that the bottom row of milk balls flow to the hole easier. Thank you all for your comments and finishing suggestions!

-- Glen

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3489 days

#7 posted 03-10-2012 04:17 AM

Great candy dispenser

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3659 days

#8 posted 03-10-2012 04:19 AM

Shellac’s a no-brainer, if you like the look.

But … THAT is SO cool :-)

-- -- Neil

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 3728 days

#9 posted 03-10-2012 04:40 AM

Shellac would be my choice too. Especially since shellac is used for foods as a shiny seal coating. Like those malted milk balls, there is probably a thin coat of shellac on them to seal the chocolate and make them shiny.
You could use shellac for the inside and do whatever strikes your fancy for the outside.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Ken90712's profile


17711 posts in 3673 days

#10 posted 03-10-2012 08:43 AM

Very nice. Looks like a fun project!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3819 days

#11 posted 03-10-2012 11:28 AM

An unusual and well done project. I’m no expert, but It is my understanding that the dangerous chemicals in poly are the drying agents, and that once they evaporated and the finish is dry that it is safe (at least for dry foods like your malt balls.) The advantage is that it will last indefinitely. You can look it up on the net. Shellac is good as long as you don’t use water on it. A good alternative would be beeswax (non-toxic), but you would have to renew it occasionally and it gets funky with a lot of handling.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4508 days

#12 posted 03-10-2012 11:29 AM

I’ll chime in with shellac. Definately food safe and looks great on cherry. Nice dispenser. Thanks for sharing


-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View T. D. Reid's profile

T. D. Reid

275 posts in 2829 days

#13 posted 03-10-2012 12:23 PM

I like milk balls, Nice job, and did I mention how much I like milk balls?

-- Head to the shop its calling you – Todd

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3482 days

#14 posted 03-10-2012 12:54 PM

Great looking dispenser.
The only PROBLEM is:
I gained another 10 lbs just reading it…...I LOVE FOOD. lol

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View DonH's profile


495 posts in 3302 days

#15 posted 03-10-2012 01:01 PM

I use polymerized tung oil on a first coat of tung oil sealer. It is a wipe on wipe off finish that goes on easily, does not pick up dust and can be repaired or touched up anytime in the future should something happen to the piece. I buy the stuff from Lee Valley – go to there web site and check out their product description etc, it is very informative and complete.

Great project!


-- DonH Orleans Ontario

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