Have a whole coconut, and want to get the coconut out of it? You could use a knife, but chances are you'll end up with chunks of the brown layer between the coconut meat and the shell in your coconut. Also, unless you shred it after cutting it out, you'll have chunks of coconut which will take longer to dry out. So why not learn from the Polynesians, and make yourself a coconut shredding tool?
When I first saw this on holiday, I was impressed with how well it worked. After getting back, I managed to make my own version of this tool using a few materials that I had kicking around. In this Instructable, I'll show you how to make your own coconut shredding tool.
You will need:
- A piece of metal, approximately 3 inches wide, 8 inches long, and 1/8th of an inch think (or, for those of you who speak metric, that's roughly 7.5 cm by 20 cm by at least 3 mm). Ideally, you should use stainless steel if you want to make a long lasting tool. My first attempt at this used mild steel, and it worked okay, but you'll need to be a bit more careful and dry the tool immediately after using it.
- A board long enough to sit on. In my case, I had an odd shaped piece of MDF (medium density fiberboard) from a previous project. The goal here is to create a functional tool, so the piece of wood doesn't have to be anything fancy.
- 2 screws or small bolts.
- Something to cut the metal. If all you've got is hand tools, you can probably do this, but it'll take a while. In my case, I used an angle grinder to cut the rough outline.
- A grinding tool, such as an angle grinder or bench grinder.
- A rotary tool with a bit capable of cutting into the metal. I used a cheap cut-off wheel looking bit. Ideally, the thinner the better. (If you've got access to a metal cutting band saw, that could also work).
- A drill and bit, the same size as your screws.
At last but not least, you'll need a bit of time - especially if you're working more with hand tools.
Remember to wear appropriate safety gear whenever working on your projects. When grinding/cutting metal, remember to wear appropriate eye protection. When operating loud tools, remember to wear hearing protection. Also, a pair of gloves can come in handy with this project, as you'll be dealing with a reasonably sharp piece of metal. The goal here is to shred coconut, not your fingers!
Step 1: Cut the Metal to Rough Shape
(I don't have a picture of this step, as I was able to reuse a piece of metal from a previous project that happened to be just the right shape. That's also why I have dents in the middle of my piece of metal. The above picture should give a general idea, nonetheless).
The shape you are looking for is approximately the shape of a flattened spoon - or a circle on a stick. The circle part should be the full width of your piece of metal, and will become the shredding head. The curve of the circle should be smaller than the average diameter of a coconut. The 'stick' portion should be roughly 1 inch (2 -2.5 cm) wide, and will eventually be mounted to the board.
Once you've got your rough shape, use your grinding implement to make it as circular as possible.
Step 2: Bevel the Edge of the Circle
Next, you'll want to grind just the 'bottom' edge of the circle. The idea here is to bevel the edge, making it reasonably sharp in the process. Don't worry about getting it razor sharp, as it isn't necessarily this sharpness that will be doing the shredding. You'll only need to bevel one edge of the circle - the 'stick' portion won't be doing any cutting.
The above picture shows the bevel cut on half the circle.
Step 3: Cut Serrations Into the Edge
Using a rotary tool (or even a metal cutting band saw), begin at one edge and start cutting notches into the edge of the circle. These serrations are what is going to give your tool the ability to shred coconut. The serrations don't have to be perfectly spaced, but try and keep your serrations as close together as possible. In my case, they are roughly 2-3 mm apart - or a bit wider than my cutting disk. This can take a while, but be patient. You may need to position yourself so that the rotation of the cutting disk against the metal won't cause either to flip out of your hand.
Step 4: Drill Mounting Holes
In the long 'stick' part of the tool, drill two holes through the metal. If your board is a large or odd shape, you may wish to cut it down to size - something large enough that you can sit on, but something that is small enough that it won't be too cumbersome.
If you used a thinner piece of metal, you may wish to cut your wood so that it has a protrusion that will sit underneath the round part. This will allow the wood to take some of the force, preventing the metal from bending when you are shredding coconuts.
Line up your freshly created coconut tool with a corner on the wood, and drill two pilot holes. Place the metal tool so that the beveled edge faces down, and the non-beveled edge faces up. Screw the tool down to the board. It doesn't matter too much if the screws poke out the bottom, as they will be underneath the board, and will be hanging off the chair or stool that you'll be sitting on when using this.
Step 5: Shred Some Coconut!
Place the board on a chair or stool. (You may wish to do this outside, as it can get a little messy). Take half a coconut in your hands, and grasp it firmly, using the palms of both hands. Rub the interior of the coconut against the serrations - the coconut should shred off from the interior of the shell. Make several passes in each place, making sure that you don't shred too deeply. (Shredding too deeply will result in brown bits in the shredded coconut). Once you've got the majority of the coconut off from one spot of the interior of the shell, shift the shell in your hands, and shred from another spot. It's a bit like zesting an inside-out lime - you don't want to take off too much at any given point, but you don't want to leave too much material still there.
There's a ton of things out there you can do with your shredded coconut. At this stage it is quite wet - you can squeeze out the coconut milk/cream. You may wish to dry it out and roast it on a cookie sheet. Emptied coconut shells can be used for other neat projects, like serving bowls (for your next tropical themed party).
When you are done shredding your coconut, unscrew and remove the tool from the board. Carefully wash the tool by hand and dry it off, making sure it's clean for the next time you use it.
Happy coconut shredding!