Introduction: Hardwood Chopstick Rest

About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building out…

These chopstick rests are made from a variety of hardwoods that have been glued together and make a great gift to anyone who eats with chopsticks.  Chopstick rests are used to keep chopsticks off of the table and are a common element in Japanese restaurants and east asian fine dining.  While anything can be used as a chopstick rest, even the paper wrapping that wooden disposable chopsticks come in, they're usually made of a material that has some value and beauty (wood, stone, ceramic).  Chopstick rests are a decorative and fun piece to customize, and so, I did.

Step 1: Make Rainbow Wood

Gluing up thin strips of multiple types of wood to create a larger multi-colored board that I call "Rainbow Wood" is easy to do if you've got the proper woodworking tools and allows you to have some pretty cool stock material on hand for projects that could use it.

Follow the steps in this Rainbow Wood Instructable and make up some stock material.

You can also skip this step and use any kind of hard wood that you like.

Take your stock material and slice a piece off in the table saw using a crosscut sled.  The width of your cut will equal the width of your chopstick rest.  I cut off around 1 1/8".  

The thickness of the rest is determined by the thickness of the stock.  The length of the rest will be determined by another cut that comes later.

Step 2: Sketch

Sketch a design for the chopstick rest.  In this case we've sketched 4 individual rests that we'll make from this one piece of stock wood.  It's easier to work with one large piece and then cut it apart later on then to work with 4 small blocks of wood to make the rests.

Our design is a simple curve, almost like a suspension bridge cable in profile.  It need not be anything fancy, as chopstick rests should be generally simple.

Step 3: Cut Profile

I used a jig saw to cut the profile shape sketched in the previous step.  Clamp two pieces of sacrificial wood to either side of the stock to support it, give the base of the jig saw a more stable surface and to elevate the jig saw blade above the workbench.

Step 4: Sand Contours

Throw a drum sander onto the drill press (or use an oscillating spindle sander if you have one) and do a bit of sanding to smooth out the jig saw cut.

We used a thin piece of wood to make sure that the sanding drum was engaging the entire edge of the pice of wood.

Step 5: Round Edges

Throw a small diameter round over bit into the router and zip the edges of the wood along the bearing to round the 4 edges of the chopstick pillow.

There's no need to engage the router table fence as the wood stip easily rides the bearing on the router bit.

Step 6: Cut Apart

With the most of the processes done for shaping the chopstick rests it's time to now cut the long strip down into the individual units.  Use the chop saw to cut the strip into 4 pieces.  Using a zero clearance fence would be ideal  here to minimize tear-out...I've got to make one of those.

Step 7: Sand

Using a hand block or detail sander lightly sand all the surfaces of the chopstick rests.

Step 8: Cut Feet

Cut a thin strip of rainbow wood material (I had this narrow stip already lying around) on the table saw.  Then, using a crosscut sled for the table saw, cut off thin blocks from that strip to become the feet for the chopstick rests.

Step 9: Glue Feet

Put a dab of Titebond III onto two of the feet that were just cut, distribute the glue evenly, and clamp them into place on the chopstick rest using a small light duty spring clamp.

Step 10: Apply Finish

Apply your preferred finish to the chopstick rest.  In this case I'm using a satin gel varnish.  Wipe it on, let it sit, and then wipe it off.  When it dries - the rests are done.