Introduction: Stylish Chopsticks With Toothpick Storage

These chopsticks are easy to make, look great, and have a hidden compartment to store toothpicks or anything else you would want to store (but mainly just toothpicks).

Made of hardwood and aluminum tubing, they are low cost and durable, allowing them to be reused many times.

Also, using your own utensils over and over again helps reduce the cutting of trees to make new chopsticks.

Step 1: Materials

All you need for this is a 6mm dowel and a piece of 6mm aluminum (or really any kind of metal) tubing.

In the spirit of re-purposing, I used an old Airsoft barrel I had lying around for the tubing. All I needed to do was to wash it thoroughly to remove grease.

Both tubing and dowel can be found at any good hardware store or home center.

You could also cut up an old pair of chopsticks to use in place of the dowel, but I didn't have any.

At my local Ace Hardware (Northern California) you can get materials for four pairs of chopsticks for $7.50.

Step 2: Tools

For this build I used:

  • craft knife
  • marker
  • ruler
  • sandpaper
  • file
  • hot glue gun
  • mini hacksawtubing cutter

I also used some olive oil as a food safe finish

Step 3: Cutting the Dowel

Measure and cut two 2 inch lengths and two 4 inch lengths. Try to cut them as cleanly as possible.

Step 4: Cutting the Tubing

A toothpick is approximately 2.5 inches long. The tubing needs to be at least that length plus one inch. I cut my tubing at 3.5 inches.

Cut two pieces of tubing 3.5 inches long. make the cuts as clean and straight as possible. If possible, use a tubing cutter. Ream the ends out a bit and clean up any burrs or sharp edges.

Step 5: Parts So Far

This is what you should have.

Step 6: Mark Dowels to Carve

Now, make a mark 1/2 inch from one end of each dowel length. This marks the area that you will have to carve in the next step.

Step 7: Carving the Dowels

Now you must carve the ends of the dowels from the 1/2 inch mark to the end. Carve them down to a diameter that allows you to pull them out without much difficulty, and that they fit snugly. Take great care to carve the dowel so that when it is stuck into the tubing it fits straight.

When you are done carving, glue the shorter dowels into the tubing sections. The long dowels should be able to pop in and out but fit snugly.
Refer to the pictures for clarity.

Step 8: Sharpen Ends of Chopsticks

Now sharpen the ends of your chopsticks. Don't make them needle sharp, just taper them gently. I started my tapering about 1.5 inches up the length of the dowel, but it doesn't really matter. Just shape the ends of your chopsticks to your liking, but be careful not to remove too much wood. Remember, if you mess up, you can always cut another length of dowel and try again.

Step 9: Sand and Oil

Now take sandpaper and lightly sand the whole chopstick, including the aluminum. This will smooth the surface of the wood and give the aluminum a nice brushed look. Be sure to give special attention to the areas where the wood and metal join together. I used fine grit sandpaper for all the sanding, because I wanted to smooth the work, instead of remove a lot of material.

After sanding, put a little bit of olive oil on a paper towel or napkin and rub it on the wooden parts generously. Let the chopsticks set in a warm area for an hour or so to let it dry, then apply another coat. This will help preserve the wood, and bring the grain out, making it look a lot better.
You can use any kind of olive oil, and I assume you could really use any kind of edible oil.

Step 10: Finished! Go and Eat With Them!

There you go. You just finished your chopsticks! Eat with them! Show them to your friends! They make great gifts, so make a bunch and hand them out! Now every time you eat, you will not have to worry about getting something stuck in your teeth and then being annoyed by it for hours.

Enjoy!

Comments

author
acoleman3 (author)2011-08-14

also a bloody good way of making collapsible hashi for ease of transport. like.....putting them in a pack, if you carry one around, so you always have them with you. although i *would* use brass 'cus aluminium is slightly toxic and the oxide rub off turns your fingers dirty. ....but cudos to you for re-using the airsoft barrel. quite brill of an idea there.

author
ilpug (author)acoleman32011-08-14

thank you. I didn't consider the oxidation. I was considering coupling these with a little carrier that would also include a chopstick rest. maybe for a bored afternoon of the future.

author
ilpug (author)ilpug2011-09-27

I have been using these and other virtually identical pairs pretty much daily since i made this instructable, and never once have i had any rub-off. you may be right, but i just haven't observed it :/

author
shortone (author)ilpug2013-03-24

Aluminum still isn't very food-safe. It isn't a huge deal here since that part isn't actually TOUCHING the food, but it would be safer to use brass (plus it isn't too tough to get ahold of brass tubing-pretty much any hobby store will have it). :)

Nice 'ible though, the simplicity of design is really lovely. These would be really nice made out of a fancy hardwood!

author
ilpug (author)shortone2014-05-07

Woah, haven't been on this Instructable in a while.

Yeah, I'm definitely thinking of making a few more pairs of these, they definitely look cool.

author
ilpug (author)shortone2013-03-27

Yeah, I think I may revisit this idea later on, Brass also looks better!

author
neo71665 (author)2014-05-06

brass is a copper and zinc alloy often with lead mixed in. I'd use aluminum before brass.

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Bio: I am a recent graduate of the Sustainable Manufacturing program at California State University Chico. I currently consult with local businesses and provide freelance design ... More »
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