Introduction: Toaster Tongs

Years ago I found a set of vintage teak toaster tongs that I gave to my parents for my Dad's daily morning toast times. When I was home this past month I was reminded of what a great idea they are (SAFETY FIRST!) and set about to make myself a set. Here's how to make your very own and save your fingers the 'OWEE!' of future daredevil toast removal tactics.

Step 1: What You'll Need

The following is what's needed to make ONE tong set:

Supplies:
- a piece of hardwood at least 2" x 9" (grain running long ways) x 3/16" thick
(I used walnut but you could also use maple, ash, birch, oak, or poplar)

*There are places online that you can buy hobby wood that is already the thickness you need it, which would save you a bunch of cutting/sanding. One good one is:
http://www.woodforcrafts.com/thin-hardwood-boards-...

- a piece of hardwood (same or different variety) at least 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 5/16" thick
- print out of toaster tongs pattern (pdf provided below)
- wood glue
- ruler or measuring tape
- pencil
- 2 small clamps
- butcher block oil
- 1x sheet each of 320, 220, & 120 sand paper (not pictured)
- paper towel (not pictured)
- double stick & masking tapes (not pictured)

Tools Used:
- table saw (not necessary if your starter wood piece is already squared)
- table saw
- disc sander

Step 2: Squaring Up Your Scrap Wood

If you're like me and have chosen to use an odd shape of wood that was kicking around the shop, it's a good idea to square it up before getting started. (* You could also use the band saw for this, I just needed practice on the table saw.)

IMPORTANT: You want the wood grain to run the length of your piece. (like pictured)

Step 3: Cutting to Size: the Tong Arms

Measure the piece you've prepared for the tong arms to be 8 3/8". Using the band saw, cut to size.

You will now be cutting off a 'long way' slice that is 3/16" thick and at least 2" x 8 3/8", so mark the 3/16" using your pencil and ruler.

Set your fence and when cutting, please use a push stick to make extra sure that your hands are safe. If you have a re-saw blade for your band saw, that would work even better than the standard one I used.

*REMINDER: There are places online that you can buy hobby wood that is already the thickness you need it, which would save you a bunch of cutting/sanding. One good one is:
http://www.woodforcrafts.com/thin-hardwood-boards-...

Step 4: Sanding Your Tong Arm Wood

To sand such a thin piece of wood, I like to use double stick tape to attach it to a thicker piece of wood (aka 'handle'). This saves your finger tips from losing a few layers of skin and makes the sanding process easier.

Start with the 120 grit paper and gently sand until all visible marks are gone. Try to use even pressure when sanding so that the finished product has uniform thickness. Once all marks are removed, next up is the 220 grit for a few passes, then the 320 grit as a smoothing finisher.

Once the first side is done, gently remove your thin piece from the 'handle' and repeat the above steps for the other side. You will be left with a lovely thin and smooth sheet of 'tong arm' wood.

Step 5: Cutting Your Tong Arms to Size

Measure and cut two 'tong arms' that are just under 1/2" wide using the band saw and a push stick.

Step 6: Sanding: Part Two

Using the 220 grit sand paper, clean up the edges of your tong arms. Do 2-3 finishing passes on the 320 grit paper.

Tape the two arms together using masking tape so that the ends line up as best as possible.

Using the 220 grit sand paper or a disc sander, lightly sand both ends of the arms, removing as little material as possible, so that the ends are even.

Step 7: Cutting Your Center Piece

Measure your center piece wood to be 1/2" thick and cut to size using TWO push sticks. Now use the disc sander to clean up and square the piece. You should end up with a piece that is approx. 1/2" to 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 1/2".

Step 8: Shaping Your Center Piece

Using the disc sander (or sand paper and tons of elbow grease), sand the center piece to be the exact thickness of your tong arms when standing on edge (like pictured). Be sure to keep checking against the tong arm as you remove material. The disc sander can chew off more material than you'd expect.

Then carefully sand the piece into it's final tapered shape. (Like pictured. See pdf print out for measurements.)
Make sure there's a nice close fit between all three pieces.

Note: The final measurements of all your pieces don't have to be exactly the same as mine as long as they all match up with each other.

Step 9: Sanding: Part Three

Before gluing up the pieces, you'll need to lightly sand the two inside edges of the center piece (using 320 grit) as these will be too hard to access once glued into place.

Step 10: Get Gluing!

Using a good quality wood glue, evenly spread a thin layer on the ends of the arms that you will be gluing to the center piece. Clamp all three pieces together as pictured, making sure that the set is lying completely flat on your work surface. Let dry for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Step 11: Unclamp and Smooooth It Out!

Remove the tongs from the clamps. It's possible that the pieces may have shifted slightly in the clamping process, so you'll need to re-square up the end. Use the disc sander for best results, or sand paper if that's what's on hand.

Tear a small piece of 320 grit sand paper off of your sheet and use to soften all the edges of the tongs, removing any roughness or potential for splinters.

Step 12: Oil 'em

Using a high quality butcher block or wooden salad bowl oil (available at most kitchenware or hardware stores), squeeze a good amount onto a piece of paper towel and apply a generous coat to all the surfaces of the tongs. Let sit for five minutes.

Step 13: Buff 'em!

Once the five minutes are up, use a fresh paper towel to remove any excess oil that hasn't soaked in and give the whole tong set a nice little buff.

You are now the proud owner of a toaster safe bread/bagel/english muffin removal device! Nice work!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Step 14: Toaster Tongs in Action

Look at them go...

: )

Comments

author
Eh Lie Us! (author)2014-03-14

Right on! I'm making one out of two old metal forks. kidding. I love the flow of the instructable-easy to ready. Hey, I hope you were wearing hearing protection when using the saw.... :(

author
Pelep (author)2014-03-09

we had one in plastic, huglyshly green, and too short. i've done mine with bamboo and pine wood ... and love it ! thanks !

author
horseman woodshop (author)2014-01-24

This is awesome. can't wait to make some myself! Thank you ms. paige. wonderful instructable. simple and elegant.

author
KitPrinklers (author)2014-01-08

I did not know this was a thing. I must have one, looking at a piece of oak that will be grabbing my pop-tarts by tomorrow. Thanks for posting!

author

By the way, mineral oil is food safe if anyone can't find the "mystery oil" used in this. They say tung oil is as well but that stuff smells horrible (looks great though) so I don't trust it for that.

author
ToolboxGuy (author)KitPrinklers2014-01-12

Butcher block oil is a very safe bet as well.

author
tkjtkj (author)ToolboxGuy2014-01-20

but wouldn't any oil applied to a butcher-block become 'butcher-block oil'?? I wonder what it's made of .. if there IS a unique substance with that name ..

author
ToolboxGuy (author)tkjtkj2014-01-22

LOL! Motor oil doesn't become "engine oil" although you pour it into an "engine", but not a "motor", but we both digress. The ones I've used most often are a combination of beeswax and mineral oil. Which begs the question, "Where does mineral oil come from?"

Here are some links to "butcher block oil" (and finish too!)

http://www.rockler.com/butcher-block-oil
http://www.amazon.com/Rust-Oleum-Corporation-241758-Butcher-Finish/dp/B000VITOT4
http://www.amazon.com/Howard-BBB012-Cutting-Board-12-Ounce/dp/B004G6X0J2/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_img_y
http://www.amazon.com/Howard-BBC012-Butcher-Conditioner-12-Ounce/dp/B001ESTA30/ref=pd_sim_hi_1

author
tkjtkj (author)KitPrinklers2014-01-20

Flax oil is also edible ... tho I've no experience with it in applying to wood .. Mineral oil, yes, even has medicinal value in low amounts .. but is a product of oil wells .. On reflection, I think i'd now reach for the flax oil!!

author
criggie (author)KitPrinklers2014-01-12

What about linseed oil... would that work? Boiled or raw?

Its made from flax seeds and claims "no environmental impact" on the bottle.

author

Yay! And thanks for the mineral oil tip KitPrinklers! The more options the better!

author
craftyv (author)2014-01-12

Great tool and well made and explained. I'd make them if I could. Till then I will keep on using my Chinese wooden chop sticks that are connected across the thick end and are used for cooking. (came free with a Wok) Great idea.

author
tkjtkj (author)craftyv2014-01-20

Now there's an idea!:

1) One chopstick , suspended between to bottles or cans or whatever, straddled by these tongs ..

2) a clamp of some sort attached to the end of each leg of the tongs.

3) suitable dish-like container attached to each clamp .. maybe a small cat-food can ...

Voila! A balance-beam kitchen scale !!!

Very green .. using no batteries ... Suitable for gram measurement, as 1 cc of water is about 1 gram .. so fill lil bottles with varying abounts of water (properly labeled of course) and place desired weight in one can .. and the same number of EMPTY lil bottles in the other,,, compensating for 'tare' weight ! then , place amounts into the can that has nO water in it's lil bottles .. and when 'balance' occurs, you have the weight!

(tho a kife-edge replacing the chopstick might lend more accuracy ;)

author
nancyjohns (author)2014-01-15

I just had to make a cheaper version.

picture005.jpg
author
ToolboxGuy (author)2014-01-12

Thanks for the fond memory - My grandfather used to make simpler ones, with two tongue depressors and a small bit of wooden dowel as the spacer. Let us kids help make them by letting us draw with markers on the tongue depressors and then finish them up with just some Elmer's wood glue and clamps.

author
Paige Russell (author)ToolboxGuy2014-01-13

That's a smart and simple solution. Love it!

author
ToolboxGuy (author)Paige Russell2014-01-13

I will ask my family if they have still have any of the originals, and I'll post a picture, or make an instructable!

author
xwania (author)2014-01-12

great ible and very inspirational. I had to make one asap :-) I used three hardwoods, yellowheart, purpleheart and white maple to build this one. I will use it as a sushi server

C360_2014-01-12-19-49-50-803.jpg
author
Paige Russell (author)xwania2014-01-13

These are gorgeous! Nice work!

author
xwania (author)Paige Russell2014-01-13

Thanks. This is what my set looks like

C360_2014-01-13-13-14-56-971.jpg
author
boxcarmj (author)2014-01-13

Very nice - Thank-you!

Mike.

author
jan459 (author)2014-01-12

Saw them, made them and love them- thanks!

author
Paige Russell (author)jan4592014-01-13

Yay!

author
Pattymouth (author)2014-01-12

I'm glad other people appreciate these babies! Once you spoil yourself by using these things, you'll never go back. Thanks for the lesson!

author
Paige Russell (author)Pattymouth2014-01-13

You're so welcome! :)

author
clay.in.co (author)2014-01-10

We had one of those when I was a kid, and it had a small round magnet embedded in the side of the "handle" part, so you could just stick it to the toaster when not being used. Really awesome is that yours looks exactly like I remember the old ones. Bravo!

author
Paige Russell (author)clay.in.co2014-01-13

Oohh, embedded magnet is an awesome idea! Thanks for sharing!

author
tkjtkj (author)2014-01-13

good one! .. and very clearly described .. thanks!

One contribution might be to create several parallel 'shallow saw cuts' in each tip of the internal surface of the tongs ..maybe 1/2 cm apart .. giving them a bit more of a 'grip' for slippery stuff ;)

I have a lot of 2" wide thin rock-maple slats .. but lacking a saw that'll cut longitudinally, i'll have to manually saw them each into 2 one-inch wide strips.. I'll glue up maybe 5 or 6 of them together so as to make a long piece of stock that i can then shape to a taper .. Then use my miter saw to cut off as many matching 'center blocks' as i wish there to be sets of tongs .. All will match perfectly, as a consequence , as they hang on the horizontal tong storage dowel .. At least that's the intent!

(I just added the image cuz i've never used my Note2's 'S-pen' feature .. then i 'shared' it to my laptop via an email .. The tapers are exaggerated, of course ..)

Glued-strips-sanded-to-tapers.jpg_20140113_111520_01.jpg
author
Paige Russell (author)tkjtkj2014-01-13

Nice! I love the idea of shaping a block for making multiple center blocks. Thanks for sharing!

author
AJMansfield (author)2014-01-12

If you use a properly set up table saw and miter saw to do every cut, then there will be no need to sand anything (except possibly the corners, if the wood is too wet/dry or has knots or loose grain). You can get the equivalent of a 2000 grit finish straight off the table saw. By properly set up, I mean with a sharp, straight blade, correct depth, correct speed, correctly-aligned fence and miter gauge, and appropriate feed rate.

author
0zzy (author)2014-01-12

very nice I'm going to make one be very handy

author
bruce.desertrat (author)2014-01-12

These are also good for doing things like turning bacon in a non-stick pan where metal tongs will scratch it up. Hmmm, I just picked up some walnut scraps. They were meant for knife scales, but I might just make a pair of these...

author
ClareBS (author)2014-01-12

Good clear instructions, every kitchen should have one. Walnut oil is also good as it hardens after a short time.

author
kbee3 (author)2014-01-10

I really need some of these!

author
Raitis (author)2014-01-10

Make enough of these and your fingers will have a skin thick enough not to use them. :)
If only used for toast, I wouldn't even bother applying oil or any other finish on these, unless for looks.

author
HollyMann (author)2014-01-09

Great job!

author
alitasali (author)2014-01-09

nice work!

author
shan_2004 (author)2014-01-08

Awesome

author
shan_2004 (author)2014-01-08

Those are really awesoe

author
Mrballeng (author)2014-01-08

I really like this.

author
nightninja87 (author)2014-01-08

that looks like the asian pair of tongs i have i definitley wanna make a pair of these :D

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Bio: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design ... More »
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