Picture of Wooden Swiss-Army-style silverware set
I go to art school, and our final project was to come up with our own assignment for a piece, and then make that piece. It was pretty open-ended, and there were more guidelines, but that's beside the point. My project was to make something that moved somehow (either the piece moved on its own or had moving parts) and was a usable object. I picked up a bunch of pallet wood (possibly mahogany) and decided a wooden folding silverware set would be awesome. So that's what I made :). You can see more about it here . Here's the breakdown...

NOTE: For this project, measurements are up to you.  Mine was definitely pocket-sized, about 3.5x1.5x1.5 inches in all, fully extended it was more like 5.5".  That's awesome, but it's pretty bulky for what it is; I'd love to try this with a harder wood, at a smaller scale, and with more finite tools, and make it even nicer and more convenient to carry around.  Anyway, here goes.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
All you'll need is your desired block of wood and a dowel at least long enough to run through the final width of your piece, and fairly thin.  Mine was about a 1/4 inch.

Step 2: Planning & Marking

Picture of Planning & Marking

Step 3: Cutting

Picture of Cutting
Cut out your main piece (if you're not just using the end of your bit of wood), and cut out the 3 pieces (from your main piece or not, it doesn't matter).

Step 4: Planning & Marking Utensils

Picture of Planning & Marking Utensils
Take the width of your final piece, and divide that by 5, because you've got two sides, and 3 pieces coming out of the center. You can cut out the 3 pieces one at a time or all together. Getting a cut across the back of the shell was too hard for me, so I ended up just gutting the space and cutting 3 pieces from extra wood to fit into my shell. So just know that might happen to you.  Be as accurate as possible, but you will be sanding things down considerably later on, so don't worry if something's a little bit off. Chances are it'll get corrected.

Step 5: Cutting Your Utensils

Picture of Cutting Your Utensils

Step 6: Marking Utensil Shapes

Picture of Marking Utensil Shapes
Now mark out your utensil shapes.  Here, I marked a fork, spoon and knife shape on my 3 pieces and know where I'm sanding to on the knife edge and spoon indentation.  If your pieces are thicker or longer than mine, your shapes might be different (you might actually have a fork instead of a thork).  I also went with pretty blocky shapes, mostly because the wood was soft and I wasn't sure how to go about this project at first, but with harder wood and more care and precision they could be much more elegant shapes.  Just remember that they have to be durable too.  Mine at least was meant for camping.

Step 7: Shaping Utensils

Picture of Shaping Utensils
Alrighty, now cut and/or sand 'em down.  I'd recommend sanding for most of these, it's just easier to control and you're not really removing enough material to justify cutting into these pieces.  I definitely could have taken a bit more time to work slowly at and control the shaping of my pieces so they were a bit cleaner.  When sanding, though, try not to take too much off of the overall width of each piece.  The tighter these fit, the better they'll keep themselves locked in the closed position when the thing's not in use.  Unless you plan to make some sort of locking mechanism :).

Step 8: Hinge-Drill Prep

Picture of Hinge-Drill Prep
Put all 3 shaped pieces back into the shell and line everything up the way you want it when it's done.  Without disrupting that placement, clamp the thing down on the end where the fork tines and knife and spoon tips are.  Then mark on the other end a point that's directly in the center of the width of the piece, and that same measurement from the end of the piece.  Draw a circle (if you want) that's the diameter of your dowel.  This is where the hinge will go for the whole 'moving parts' idea to work.

Step 9: Drilling the Hinge Hole

Picture of Drilling the Hinge Hole
- Make sure your drill bit is the same size as your dowel!!
- Clamp everything onto scrap wood so you don't drill into your work surface.
- You can even gauge the depth of the drill by figuring out exactly how far in the bit will be when you're through your shell piece, and putting some masking tape right above it there, so when you're drilling down and you reach the tape, you're done drilling.  That way you won't drill through your scrap wood.

You need to be drilling straight up and down, at a 90 degree angle to your piece.  A drill press is key in this step, if you can find one.  There are small portable ones that'll be just fine, probably running 20-40 bucks.  You could even make one by Googling what they look like, they're not overly complicated.  But in order for the hinge to work just right, the straighter of a hole as you can get the better.

Step 10: Dowel

Picture of Dowel
Test the dowel fit and cut it to size.

Step 11: Sand for Folding

Picture of Sand for Folding
I don't remember the measurement I used to get the right amount of sanding done, but play with it and I'm sure you can figure it out.  At least just do a little bit and test it, keep going back and forth until you get something smooth and even that'll unfold and fold with no problems.

Step 12: Finishing

Picture of Finishing
Congratulations! :)