Former students in the cabinetmaking and furniture technician program have been awarded a Guinness World Record for building the world’s largest pepper grinder.

The pepper grinder stands 16-feet four-inches tall, 14-inches in diameter and weighs approximately 490 pounds. It was built over the course of eight months by 10 students who volunteered their time after school on Fridays to work on the project.

“We wanted to tackle a project that involved wood and would pertain to the program,” said professor John McKinlay-Key, who oversaw the project. “Initially we were thinking of doing the world’s largest golf tee, but eventually we figured a pepper grinder would be more attainable.”

The extracurricular assignment was thought up in order to provide a fun way to keep the students engaged and to let them practice the skills they learned in class. It was started in October 2013 and completed last month, the week before the last classes in August. The students were just notified by Guinness last week that their work had been certified as a world record holder.

The students used hand tools as well as robotic ones to build the grinder. An industrial-sized lathe from a local workshop was also employed due to the massive size of the grinder.

 “It was a chance to do something outside of school hours to practice our skills, so why not?” said Declan Thomas, who also worked on the assignment. “In the real world, we’re not going to have that chance everyday.”

Rod Dagenais, a 53-year-old retired Canadian military veteran, and Thomas, a retired chef, acknowledged that the experience brought the students of various ages together to complete the monumental task at hand.

“We would finish class at 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., then we would get to work on the pepper grinder,” said Dagenais. “We had everyone from an 18-year-old who just graduated high school, all the way up to myself.”

“Sometimes we would work until midnight or one in the morning and just survive off Tim Hortons. We all got closer for doing this project.” Thomas added.

The unveiling of the pepper grinder was on August 14 in the atrium of the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence. About 150 to 200 people showed up to view the grinder, take pictures, and watch as measurements were taken by local Ottawa industry experts.

“We contacted Guinness through their website,” said McKinlay-Key of how they notified Guinness of this project. “They have an online application so we filled that out and they sent a package. We had to have some local industry experts come in and impartially measure it.”

“Everything was videotaped from the time the measuring tape was used all the way to the end,” said Dagenais of the unveiling ceremony.

The building of the pepper grinder was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students involved.

“We used all the skills that we were learning in school anyway, got to apply it to something completely ridiculous and had a blast doing it,” said Thomas of his experience working on the pepper grinder.

“How many times in your life can you say ‘Hey, I have a world record in something?’”

The pepper grinder is currently being held in the woodworking workshop in the CE building until a permanent home for it can be decided.