Introduction: A Spatula/Egg Flip That Won't Warp
Water and wood don't mix, especially if you want the wood to retain it's shape. In most cases the simplest solution is to keep the 2 apart, but in some cases, like utensils, it's impossible.
This spatula/egg flip is made using a hardwood and a rotating grain pattern giving it more rigidity to wood movement. This means, in theory, it should hold up better to being washed, so it's a good design for utensils.
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Step 1: Create the Main Piece of Wood
I had an off cut of jarrah from an old post, it was around 5mm thick. Using a thickness planer I milled the wood down as thin as the planer would go; 1/8th inch (around 3mm).
From the off cut I cut 4 100mm x 100mm pieces. This would mean I could make the egg flip roughly 400mm long. The wood had some left over paint so I got rid of that but also made sure the edges were square. I removed the paint and some of the material using a hand plane.
Now I could start gluing the squares on the original length of wood using wood glue. This is where the idea of rotating grain comes together. I glued the squares to the main piece of wood, each piece butted up against the next one. I only had enough clamps to do 2 squares are a time but the second set was done in the same way.
After the glue had dried you see how messy the surface was. There was dried glue and some of the edges weren't lining up. To clean this up, ready for more glue, I ran it through the planer. Then I could spread a large amount of glue and stick on the remaining piece. Again, the grain direction has been rotated 90 degrees.
Step 2: Create the Basic Shape
I drew lines of what material I wanted to remove and the shape I wanted to create. To create the curve in the head I used a roll of painters tape. I started the handle cut using a tenoning saw to get the cut straight then switched to cheap handsaw that allowed me to continue the cut past the ridge of the saw.
To cut the curve I made a series of cuts towards the curve. To reduce tear out and to improve the flow of the curve I cut the grain using a box cutter along the curve I drew earlier. This cut was made on both sides, front and back. Then I could go in with a narrow chisel and remove the waste.
To give the handle a bit more size I took the off cuts from earlier (when I was cutting the lengths off the handle) and glued those on. This would ultimately create the striped pattern on the handle and give it that wow factor.
Step 3: Refine the Shape
After using the chisel on the curves they were left a bit ragged. To clean them up I used my thumb as a curve and some 120 grit paper. Once the glue on the handle dried I flushed the extras pieces down to the original handle using a hand plane.
Then I could start shaping on the belt sander. I worked on the transition of the handle into the shaft for a long time to get it as smooth as possible.
The head, the part that flips, received a small taper using a hand plane. This was more an aesthetic thing.
The handle received a uniform round over with a router and a large round over bit. To smooth the transition from the round over to the rest of the handle (where the round over was too deep to be used) I used 120 grit sand paper.
Lastly I needed to give the head it's functional thin tip. The sides where slightly tapered, but the top was given a long gradual curve to a point. The point was honed using a wood block and sand paper.
The last sanding was done using a random orbit sander, all the way up to 600 grit paper. I like to sand utensils to a high grit because it's more sanitary. The more pits in the grain the more space there is for bacteria to breed.
Step 4: Add Finish
To finish the spatula I used a food safe oil. This is a debate and discussion in itself, so I won't go into it here but do your own research on the subject and decide what's right for you. I added 2 coats to the wood. The grain is tight enough in this hardwood that it doesn't need a lot of oil to make it water resistent.