Introduction: Silicone Adapter
This is an entry in the
Pro Tips Challenge
I recently took on the challenge to create a padded handle for a spoon and fork. The flatware edges where causing pain in the fingers of someone I knew because of rheumatoid nodules. They had tried some foam pen grips but the grips kept slipping and sliding up and down the handles.
After they tried a prototype handle, made out of Silicone; I made some modifications and then a few more prototypes until they found the one just right and it has worked out great. No more pain while eating with flatware.
This instructable will show you how to make a Silicone Adapter for a flatware handle as well as some Pro Tips for working with Silicone.
Here are some benefits of using Silicone as the adapter.
1) Silicone remains flexible,
2) Won’t crack or shrink,
4) Readily available and easy to mold into custom shapes.
Next Materials and Tools
Step 1: Materials and Tools
1) Food safe Silicone,
2) Handle or Template,
3) Drywall Mesh Tape.
1) Dish Soap,
2) Water / Hair Dryer,
3) 3rd Hand,
5) Gloves (optional).
Health Acknowledgement: Use Silicone in well ventilated areas. Prolonged handling or exposure of Silicone may cause defatting of the skin, dizziness or headache.
Step 2: Lubrication
Cover hands or gloves with Dish Soap to lubricate Silicone. Reapply as necessary.
Tip #1: Silicone sticks well to its self; I use Dish Soap to lubricate the Silicone so it can be molded, smoothed and the Silicone will not stick to fingers or gloves.
Next Handle & Reinforcement
Step 3: Handle & Reinforcement
1) Place Template on the 3rd Hand,
2) Cover the Template with a light coat of Silicone,
3) Cut the Drywall Mesh Tape and wrap around the Template.
Tip #2: Silicone may need to be reinforced when not being used as its intended purpose. Silicone is flexible but it can tear when being stretched beyond its limits.
Step 4: Silicone Coating
Cover Template with Silicone.
Add more Silicone on the tip of the Flatware, this is a weak point and is prone to puncturing from the handle end bumping when inserting the handle into the Silicone Adapter.
Tip #3: Silicone comes in different types. (FDA approved for contact with food and aquatic life, general purpose and building Silicone and other specialist Silicones).
Step 5: Molding
Mold Silicone into the shape or form you desire.
Tip #4: Once tack free, Silicone can still be molded to the desired shape.
Step 6: Curing
1) Spray or dunk the Silicone covered Template in Water to speed curing time. You can also use a Hair Dryer.
Tip #5: Silicone will cure more quickly when mixed with water, applied heat or in a humid environment. If you apply a thick coat it will take longer. If you apply multiple thin layers it will cure quickly, but you will have a cloudy, milky looking appliance.
2) Let cure. This is, by far, the most time consuming step, but it is the most critical.
Tip #6: Let the Silicone completely cure. It is less susceptible to tearing when removing the Silicone Adapter from the Template. Should it tear, apply Silicone on both parts of the tear and hold together. Now wait until it completely cures.
Step 7: Finished
Once cured, remove the Silicone Adapter from the Template. Wash and dry the inside and outside of the Silicone Adapter there will be a residue left behind.
This is done carefully by twisting the handle and Silicone Adapter until it becomes loose, then gently slide the handle away from the Silicone Adapter.
Tip #7: Silicone can become slippery when wet. Water against the smooth interior or the smooth flatware surfaces may result in the flatware slipping. If the flatware is decorated the Silicone Adapter is less likely to slip, even when wet.
Next Observations & Summary
Step 8: Observations & Summary
Silicone is a waterproof, flexible adhesive meant to bond items together or create a watertight seal. As this instructable has brought before you, Silicone is more than just an adhesive or sealant. Silicone is only limited by your imagination and the laws of physics.
This use, as a custom removable handle, is outside of the original design and stated purpose on the package. Depending on your application you may have to adjust your design or procedures to conquer any challenges. You can do it.
Pro Tips recap:
1) Silicone sticks well to its self. Dish Soap will allow you to mold it to your Template,
2) Silicone may need to be reinforced when not being used as its intended purpose,
3) Silicone comes in different types, find the correct product for your application.
4) Silicone can still be molded, once tack free.
5) Silicone will cure more quickly when mixed with water or when heat is applied.
6) Let the Silicone completely cure. It is the strongest when cured.
7) Silicone can become slippery, on smooth surfaces, when wet.
8) Silicone may not be recommended for use on metals or surfaces prone to attack by weak acids. Read the MSDS before you start your project.
9) Remove excess uncured sealant from surfaces and tools with mineral spirits.
I and the recipients are satisfied with the results.
- Then I saw, and considered it well. I looked upon it, and received instruction..
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.
I laughed when I got to Step 3, having been mystified by the 'third
hand' reference and not making the connection to the object whose use I
My sympathies to the person with the
nodules... I assumed the adaptor would be left on the utensil, and
wondered if it could go in the dishwasher. Does it usually get removed
when not in use? Is it stretchy enough to fit on different styles of
utensils? Is it important for everything to be dry when the adaptor is installed, so it doesn't slip? But does that make it hard to get on the flatware?
I have some Rustoleum 'Grip & Guard' that I haven't used
yet that's meant to produce a textured rubber surface - you just dip
things in it. It might work for something like this, but might not be
good around food...
Thank you for reviewing and commenting.
The “3rd hand” object is an octagon junction box. Something heavy enough with a thin wall for the fork to be propped up.
It is dishwater safe. I urged the recipient to remove the adapter. Even though silicone is mold resistant, mold can still grow between the utensil and the adapter. Example: I have some translucent spatulas where the head separates from the handle. From time to time food and water work their way in and start to mold. I remove the head and clean out with a Q-tip. You can leave the adapter on as long as you want and clean it in the dishwasher, but mold will develop as with my spatulas and other containers I have. That is why there is the reinforcement wrap, to reduce ripping and tearing.
During the evaluation stage, the recipient only had 1 adaptor so they were switching from fork to spoon until the final design was completed. I am not sure what you mean by “different styles of utensils”, Silicone is “stretchy”, but it has its limitations. The recipient has 2 different styles of flatware, one is the style I used as a template the other has a pattern. In these instances, the pattern flatware and the fork template are wider and longer than the template style spoon. The pattern flatware and the template fork are more difficult to put on and take off, to which, you twist, pinch and slide the adapter until it is either on or off. It will not fit on the knife handle. At this time, the knife is not an issue for the recipient.
I do not know firsthand about “Rustoleum 'Grip & Guard'”, but having used Plasti Dip, it is not durable when constantly being banged and rubbed against other surfaces. Not to mention how it might hold up in a dishwasher’s hot temperatures and possibly type of soap, whether you use power or liquid soap. Some people sight the possibilities of leaching toxic substances. I will go on a limb to say there is limited leaching of polymers when completely cured and not exposed to chemicals, cooking oils included, or high heat. If you are not concerned with leaching then try the ‘Grip & Guard'. If I was making this adapter for myself, I would not be so conscious about using a FDA food safe Silicone.
As for the adapter being dry so it does not slip, yes, it is important. If there is water between the 2 surfaces it reduces the frictional forces exerted between the objects in contact. The recipient commented regarding having to squeeze the spoon and fork harder so it would not slip, which cause pain when squeezing. Furthermore, you just don’t want the flatware to slide off and drop whatever you are eating, it can be messy.
You asked some good questions and brought up some of my shortsightedness. Working with these materials every day, I understand the principles and took them for granted. I was remiss in not going into more detail. I will add more details to the instructable.
Thank you again for reviewing and commenting.