Intro: Stylish Homemade Salad Tongs/Tossers
Ok, I like salad more and more the older I get. So I make salads every other day or so. I've been tossing them with forks but they are really too small for the big bowl of salad that I've made. I know they make salad tong/tossers but I'm cheap and the stuff I make is nicer anyway.
I love the asian food markets in town and I love bamboo. I absolutely love working with it. It's sturdy, easy to cut, sand and shape. Plus the cutting boards made from it are beautiful. So the last time I was in an asian market I found this package of really nice bamboo chopsticks, thinking I'd use them for a project, and here it is.
I came up with this idea to make a big fork (basically) of bamboo chopsticks. I use it to nicely toss the salad and to server the salad into smaller bowls.
Oh and I made it at TechShop, so this project went fast.
So let's get started shall we?
Nice bamboo chopsticks (4 in this case but you can use as many as you would like)
Some scrap wood for the handles
Some sort of saw for cutting your scrap wood pieces
Sandpaper (150 grit,220 gritt, & 400 something(ish) is what I used)
Polyurethane for protecting the handle (optional)
Step 1: Cut the Chopsticks
I cut my chopsticks about 8 1/2" long (22cm). I did this on the band saw, because it was quick and easy, but you could cut them with a small hand saw, or a dremel with a cutting wheel. I measured up from the pointy ends, and cut off the tops. The trick is that you want to get all the lengths of bamboo chopsticks the same length. If one of them is a little longer then just sand it down from the cut end. I actually put them all on the disk sander with a block of wood placed at the tips to keep them all the same length. Then I had 4 perfectly same lengths of bamboo chopsticks.
Step 2: Make Your Handles
So like I said, I'm lucky enough to have a TechShop within walking distance of me. Aside from having a full wood and metal shop at my disposal, the best part of TechShop is the fruitful supply of scraps. Particularly 3/4" plywood. There's always plenty of this stuff in the wood bin. If you have access to a wood working shop you'll probably have the same resources.
So I cut two pieces of 3/4" plywood roughly 1 1/2" by 4 1/2" (4cm x 11.5cm). Then I just rounded the corners off on the disc sander. You could just as easily do this with a dremel or a rasp by hand if you don't have access to a wood shop.
Once we have them shaped we are ready to clamp them, with some spare pieces of wood, upright so that we can drill into one side of them for the bamboo chopsticks. In one of the pictures you can see that I drilled a test hole in one of the spare pieces of wood used to clamp the handle. I did this to test the hole width for the lengths of bamboo we cut in the previous step. I also did this to set the depth of the hole on the drill press. That way I know all the holes are exactly the same depth and when I put all the chopsticks in them they should all be the same length.
Step 3: Assembly and Finishing
So I *love* gorilla glue, it's my primary go-to choice when it comes to adhesives, but you can use any wood glue for this project. Now the thing about Gorilla glue is that you have to have the two mating pieces roughed up with sandpaper. Seeing that these are both unfinished wood and quite porous sanding them wasn't necessary. Then next thing is to make sure both pieces being glued are damp. I dripped water into the holes of the handle and wiped the ends of the bamboo chopsticks with a damp cloth. Then I put a little drop of glue into the hole and inserted the bamboo chopsticks (cut end not the pointy end) into their holes. I actually clamped them with a piece of scrap wood, so that the glue doesn't force them out when curing. Gorilla glue foams and expands when curing, personally I think this is the strongest advantage to Gorilla glue.
I like to let Gorilla glue cure for at least 2 hours, personally most of the time I let the item sit clamped overnight and pick the project back up the next day.
Once the glue has cured and hardened all that is left is finishing the wooden handles. I used 6 coats of Polyurethane, and only on the handle. Making sure to give a *light* sanding in between coats with a 400 grit sandpaper. This can take you a couple of days, but it makes for a nice glass like finish for the handles. So they will last a good long time.
It should be said that I did *NOT* do anything to the bamboo chopsticks in the way of polyurethane. You certainly would not want to polyurethane those as they come into contact with food. All they need is a quick wipe with a kitchen oil, Olive Oil, Canola, Vegetable, that's it.
Now I'm ready to use them to toss salad and for serving.