Anybody ever see Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Of course you have; if not, don’t run right out and rent it – it’s no Star Wars but I used to like it. In fact, I liked it a bit too much and so put it aside for a long time. I was given DVD special edition of the movie for Christmas. What has this got to do with woodworking? Wait and see. The surprise of our house is that the kids seemed to know about it and have watched it many times since then. They might like it a little bit too much – just like I did. Sometimes I hate it when the apple falls so close to the tree. Are we strange? When you read the rest of this you’ll say to yourselves “Oh yeah!”

The DVD “special edition” is really nice since it has lots of other stuff including one of those “the making of…” videos. One of the stranger things is a section on how to make your own horse-clopping sounds with the two halves of a coconut. That’s where my story begins.

Leave it to my two children (the craft-project king and queen) to see this video and want to make their own coconut cloppers. Well, we were at the grocery store and coconuts were there and they were cheap. Why they decided to notice them yesterday as opposed to any other day is anybody’s guess. When I stopped to consider all the other things they could have asked for (more expensive things), I thought “what the heck – buy two coconuts.”

This is where the woodworking comes in. Coconuts are hard. Really hard. Common sense will tell you (as well as the DVD special-edition video) that you’ve got to let the coconut milk out first or face a really big mess. That calls for the cordless drill. Problem solved. Drill a hole and…

Nothing happens.

You have to drill two holes; one on the bottom and one on the top. When that top hole breaks through, watch out! Better have that lower hole poised over a bowl for that second drilling process. I chose an old-fashioned twist bit but in retrospect, a brad point would have been better – the bit wanders a bit on the round surface before finally biting. Anything larger than a quarter inch is a bit much. (Oops, bad pun alert!)

Then your task becomes to cut it in half neatly. Well, that’s easy just get a saw. Of course, I’m not putting those things on any of my power tools. I can just see pushing that thing through my bandsaw and then cleaning out the coconut mush from all over the inside. The table saw is right out unless you like to live dangerously. This calls for a handsaw.

Luckily, I had just been practicing my skills at sharpening hand saws. Hmmm… does coconut husk have “grain”. Rip or cross cut? I chose a recently acquired antique Disston; filed for cross-cut work.

It’s pretty difficult to hold onto a round thing while you’re sawing it in half. Hmmm… how to hold this wobbly thing? Miter box? No, my miter box is too small. Make another one? Nah, who wants to make a jig for a one-off project like this. I used a bench hook. It didn’t help much but it helped enough. When you’re wielding a large cross-cut saw on your wife’s cutting board, make sure you know where your blade is with respect to the highly valued cutting board.

Now, to get the meat out. It’s not as mushy as I thought it would be. A spoon is pretty much worthless. It’s also attached pretty firmly to the husk but if you score the meat with a paring knife and then work the knife under the meat and twist, it pops right off in a large chunk. Our woodworking friends from Hawaii probably already know this but for us Oklahomans, it was a learning experience.

Hmm… now you’ve got a nice crosscut saw with coconut meat clogging the teeth. It may be that coconut mush is the best rust-preventive known to man but I wasn’t in the mood to do research. I reached for the first thing that came to hand – a can of WD-40. I figured that the coconut stuff had lots of water in it and WD stand for “water displacement” right. Spray away! It cleaned up nicely.

In the final analysis, we got quite a bit of enjoyment out of such a small investment. And they work pretty well too. If you like the sound of clopping horses that is. This morning, Erin got up and clopped to the breakfast table only to have her coconuts confiscated. I guess it was too early in the morning for Mel to have to listen to horse clopping.