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Growing up my dad made marshmallow forks out of broom handles and wire clothing hangers.  These were outstanding marshmallow forks because the wooden handle and overall length allowed one to sit back and roast a perfect marshmallow.   This instructable shows you how to make this traditional marshmallow fork from a broom handle and wire clothing  hangers. 

The basic process for making marshmallow forks:
1) Make the winding tool
2) Wind the wire fork
3) Cut and prepare the handle
4) Assemble the fork and handle

Marshmallow Fork Materials
    broom handle (or 7/8 hardwood dowel)
    Coat hangers (or 10g or 12g stainless steel wire)
    Paint

Winding Tool Materials
    1/4" x 20 x 2.5" threaded bolt.  The bolt must be threaded all the way to the head.
    1/4" x 20 nut
    1/4" x 20 wing nut
    2x 1/4" fender washers
    2x 1/4" lock washers

Tools
    Scrap 1x4 (fork mandrel)
    Electric Drill
    Drill bits - 3/16" and assorted
    6d Box Nails
    Diagonal Cutters
    Pliers
    Saw
    Medium Grit Sandpaper
    Adjustable Wrenches
   
 
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Step 1: Material Options

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Wire Fork

Typical wire clothing hangers are either 11 ga. or 13 ga. wire.  The heavier gauge wire may seem preferable but my experience has been that the breakage rate while winding the fork is very high (~100%).  The 13 ga. wire clothing hanger does a good job for roasting marshmallows, however, it is not stiff enough for roasting hot dogs.   The wire clothing hangers can be replaced by stainless steel wire.    Below is an annotated list of wire I have used.

<> 10 ga. (0.102") Stainless  Steel -- very stiff, easily handles multiple hotdogs, can be difficult to work with.
<> 11 ga. (0.102") steel clothing hanger  -- high breakage rate (~100%)
<> 12 ga. (0.081") Stainless  Steel -- good for marshmallows, satisfactory for one hotdog.
<> 13 ga. (0.081") steel clothing hanger  -- good for marshmallows.
<> 14 ga. (0.064") Stainless  Steel -- too flexible.

The stainless steel wire can be purchased from McMaster Carr
http://www.mcmaster.com/#stainless-steel-wire/=i0qchy

Wooden Handles

Hardwood dowels can be used as an alternative to broom handles.  A 7/8"x48" hardwood dowel is a comfortable size and convenient length -- one dowel makes two handles.  Also five 7/8" dowels fit within a 3" drain pipe if not heavily painted. 

I typically store 10 marshmallow forks in a 4' section of 3" drain  pipe.  The forks are inserted face to face with the wire fork overlapping the handles.






Step 2: Make The Winding Tool

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The winding tool facilitates the job of twisting the fork.

The parts of the winding tool are:

    1/4" x 20 x 2.5" threaded bolt.  The bolt must be threaded all the way to the head.
    1/4" x 20 nut
    1/4" x 20 wing nut
    2x 1/4" fender washers
    2x 1/4" lock washers

The first step is to drill and slot one of the fender washers.  The second picture shows the one fender washer with 3/16" holes drilled through the washer on opposite sides.  The outside of the washer has been slotted into the holes.  Ensure that the slots created are large enough for the wire being used on the fork.

The next step is to assemble the winding tool.  The second picture shows the stack of components in the order they are to be assembled.  Take the bolt and stack one lock washer, then the modified fender washer, then the other lock washer on to it.  Next thread the 1/4" x 20 nut onto the bolt.  Securely tighten the nut onto the bolt.

Finally add the last fender washer and the wing nut to the stack.  The finished result should look like the third picture.

Step 3: Fork Preparation (1/2)

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The fork is made by creating a wire loop out of two wire clothing hangers, then winding it up around a mandrel and trimming the excess.

Starting with two wire clothing hangers, clip the hook off the top.  Using pliers create hook at both end of each wire.  Connect the ends together by interlocking the hooks and crimping the ends.  It is easier to turn the wire hangers 90 degrees from each other when connecting and crimping. 

Straighten the loop so that the hooks are at each end and the middle is relatively straight.   You just need to do enough to make the wire easier to work with.  The winding process will finish straighten the wire;



Step 4: Fork Preparation (2/2)

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After the wire loop has been made, make a sharp 90 bend at one end.  Lace the wire into the slots on the winding tool.  Then tighten the wing nut to secure the wire in the tool.

Next mount the 1x4 scrap in a location where the wire can be looped around it.

Loop the wire over the 1x4 scrap.  Connect the tighten the other end of the loop and winding tool into the electric drill.  The pull on the drill with 5-10 lb of tension.  Wiggle the loop around (left / right / up / down) to get it settled on the mandrel.  Sloooowly wind the loop until the complete.  The wire will be at a 30-45 degree angle.

The "Success" video shows the successful winding process.

Loosen the winding tool from the drill.  Using the diagonal cutters cut the fork free from the mandrel and winding tool.  Trim the bent pieces from each end, then trim to length.  The fork should be 24 inches long.

Step 5: Handle Preparation

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Preparing the wooden handle for the marshmallow forks involves the following steps: cut, paint, and drill. 

Cut the broom handle (dowel) into sections slightly less than 2 foot long.  Sand the handle as required.

Painting the dowel is left as an exercise to the reader.  But a hole in the center of the end of the handle is required at a later step.  It is convenient to locate that hole at this time using a nail; the nail is useful to hang the handle while painting. 

It is not necessary to locate the exact center of the dowel, instead being very close is good enough.  The technique I use to find the center is as follows.  Take a piece of scrap wood (molding) that is approximately half the thickness of the handles diameter.  The broom handle I am using is 7/8" in diameter; the scrap molding I am using is 3/8" thick.  Lay the end of the dowel next to the molding, then scribe a line.  Roll the dowel one third of the circumference around (~1 inch); scribe another line.  Finally roll and scribe the handle one more time.   The three lines scribed on the end will form a triangle near the center of the; simply tap a 6d box nail in the center of the triangles.  Now go off and paint the handle.

Step 6: Assembly

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To size the bit for the handle, take the wound up fork and insert it into your drill set.  Find the smallest drill size that it fits into, then select the next smaller size.  Below is a rough sizing guide.

14 ga. -- 15/64
13 ga. --  1/8
12 ga. -- 17/64
10 ga. --  5/16

Carefully drill down the center line of the handle approximately 1.5".

Insert the twisted end of the wound up fork into the end of the handle.  Press fit this in without glue, paint or adhesive.  If you need to twist it to help it in, twist in the direction to tighten the wound up wire.

Step 7: Testing

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The most important step is testing your new marshmallow fork.  If the fork is not aligned with the handle, take a moment and bend it into alignment. 

With any marshmallow fork, assume that it is dirty when you receive it.  Sterilize the fork by putting it in the fire and to burn off any residue that is on it.   In particular, a wire coat hanger will have paint or lacquer.  Burn the material off, and possibly use a piece of sandpaper to finish off the last charred bits.

And of course test your fork and enjoy your sweet (and toasted) success.

Step 8: In Memoriam to the "Professional" Camper

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This instructable was prepare for Father's Day in memory of my dad, Stanley E. Harvey.  On 7 June 2012, he went to be with the Lord.

To a close circle of family and friends he was the "Professional Camper."  When out camping with him, if we ever needed something we could ask him; either he had what we needed or knew how to accomplish the job using the tools and materials he had.  He is deeply missed.

My dad first made this type of marshmallow fork back in the 1970's.  We have used them for many years.  I hope  you will make enjoy using these "Professional" marshmallow forks as much as we do.

Happy Father's Day Dad!
Don't be fooooled!!! Marshmallows on metal melt and fall off!!
saharvey2 (author)  getoffamycloud3 years ago
Very true for a clean marshmallow fork. But when have you ever seen one.

Once a marshmallow gets burnt on the fork there is a carbon build-up. That carbon helps hold the marshmallow on the fork. It also helps to hold the fork as level as possible when roasting. I typically lose marshmallows that drip through the tangs.
what a great project! This sure beats using a raw coathanger or finding a stick to sharpen. As far as marshmallows falling off, just barb the tines slightly. When you cut off the winding tool bend the wire sharply back then clip it close to make a tiny harpoon.

The problem with metal is that the inside cooks faster than the outside. A barb in the mushy center doesn't do anything to keep it from sliding around. A real stick is perfect because it cooks from the outside and stays firmly on the stick until it is perfectly gooey and golden brown all the way through.

sounds like you're saying it'll be insulated from the metal by old crusty marshmallow ash haha no thanks. I like to scrape/burn that stuff off my sticks before putting a new marshmallow on, even in the same sitting. I save my perfect marshmallow sticks for reuse and they work wayyy better than any metal!

Hi, great forks! The only warning is that most cost hangers are galvanised with zinc which is highly poisonous and has a low melting point. Stainless steel wire without galv would do the job, and safely. Well done!
saharvey2 (author) 3 years ago
You would never guess from that photo that my Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. You can help researchers develop an objective test for Parkinson's by adding your voice to the thousands of recording needed by the Parkinson's Voice Initiative.  It takes just 3-5 minutes.  Please give them a call.

Parkinson's Voice Initiative
USA  1-857-284-8035
Brazil  11 3957-0683
Mexico  55-41703631
UK  01865 521168
Spain  91 123 4793
Argentina  11.5252.8741
Canada  1-647-931-5776
HollyHarken3 years ago
For some reason I can't get the .wmv files to play, I get a bunch of gobly gook text that makes no sense. Anyone else having this problem?

As for the fire pit, it does look like an old washing machine tub. I've been using one for over 20 years. My cousin made it and had angle iron welded to it to let it stand up. We use it during the year to have nice fires or burn up scrap wood and yard debris. I would suggest contacting your local appliance repair shop to see if they will sell you an old washing machine tub. Place it up on cinder blocks, bricks, what have you, to get it up off the ground. These things will put out some serious heat once they get going. One year we used one at camp when it rained all weekend. The ground was bone dry for at least 4 feet around the fire pit because we kept it full.
saharvey2 (author)  HollyHarken3 years ago
I have added MPEG files. I hope they work better.
Spokehedz3 years ago
My one complaint would be that some coat hangars are coated with varnish or something so you have to be careful to not use those.

Also, if you have a lot of breakage you can heat the wires up with a torch just a little bit and that should help with the twisting.

Otherwise, great Instructable and tribute.
Great instructable. Takes me back to summer youth camp. Question -- is there an instructable on the fire pit in the background ?
saharvey2 (author)  survivethetime3 years ago
Thank You!

The fire pit is a stainless steel tub from a front loading washing machine. My wife gave it to me on Father's Day in 2011. She found it on craigslist. I would suggest searching on "washer tub fire".

As HollyHarken said, the fire pit puts out some "serious heat." I typically toss scrap from the workshop in it. I have a round BBQ grill that I set on top to cook burgers and off course marshmallow. In fact it is actually too hot for marshmallow; the outside gets toasted before the inside gets thoroughly heated.
It looks like the inside (tub) of a washing machine!
Or maybe tumble washer/drier?

Need marshmallows.. need fork.. need stove.. need fuel.. and a match. :)
jtharkness3 years ago
Very nice 'ible - explained well, good pics, simple yet elegant, and inexpensive.
pattymadeit3 years ago
What a great tribute to your Dad! Thanks for sharing.
Kozz3 years ago
I must admit, I was completely distracted by the very first photo. Is that an old washing machine or dryer drum being used as your fire-pit? Very neat idea!

Great idea for the marshmallow forks, too. I'm taking the kids camping this weekend!
jrawling Kozz3 years ago
Second the fire pit question. Another Instructable please!
Xamu3 years ago
Would I lose my eligibity and amateur status if I used these? I worry about that. :o)
kbeindorf3 years ago
Very nice tribute to your father. I can't wait to make these for my camping family!
scoochmaroo3 years ago
Really fantastic. Thank you for sharing this!
paganwonder3 years ago
Great tribute to your Dad. Peace be with you. (I still use ancient camping gear because they remind me of great times with my Dad)
dbarber33 years ago
As someone who has had the privilege of camping with saharvey2, I can tell you they work great.
Musicman413 years ago
I still like using a small stick. I know it is done when the marshmallow no longer turns when the stick does.
iOskr3 years ago
Nice solution... better results... and the best is a low price...

Congrats thanks for sharing.
themoose643 years ago
Very nice, your father would like them.
They look fantastic - very professional. :)