How many times have you gotten a splinter or metal sliver stuck in your finger while working on your car or handling a piece of wood? You try to get it out using the tweezers that your wife, mom, girlfriend, or whoever has in the medicine cabinet. But, those cheap tweezers just won't get to the tiny splinter that you swear is a 3" nail in your finger. Most tweezers I have seen, have big fat blunt ends and cannot dig around a tiny splinter to grab it. Some do not even meet at the ends!
This is a very simple Instructable that will show you how to make your own pair of tweezers and will be MUCH better than any you can find in a drug store or a big box store. It also works great for working on tiny little parts that are hard to pick up. These will be the best pair of tweezers you have ever used.
Step 1: Gather Your Material
A large cotter pin (1/8" x 2" in this example)
Short piece of wooden dowell rod (I used 3/8" dia.) larger than the cotter pin
Needle nose pliers
A drill bit slightly larger dia. than the cotter pin
Bench grinder (or some way to safely grind metal)
You might also want to have a cup of water handy.
Step 2: Prepare the Cotter Pin
Put on your safety goggles and grind both legs of the cotter pin to the same length if they are different like the one in the picture. Some cotter pins have equal length legs and others have a sharp little bend on the end. Just end up with both legs straight and the same length. Then grind the cotter pin to a point by turning it around as you grind. You can make the point really sharp like a large needle or or round it off a little bit if you like. The picture above will give you a good idea of what you want it to look like. Try to hold both legs together while you are grinding. Sometimes they want to separate a little while you are grinding them. While you are grinding, you might need to dunk it into a small cup of water to keep it cool.
Grinding very gently will produce the smoothest surface.
The easiest tool to use for this step would be a bench grinder, but you can use something as simple as a mounted stone on a drill.
Step 3: Shape the Cotter Pin
Now that you have a nice sharp point, take you screwdriver and separate the legs slightly. Spread the legs by putting screwdriver about 1/2 way up the length of the cotter pin and give it a little twist. This will separate the legs enough so there is about 1/8" - 1/4" gap between the points when you remove the screwdriver. If the legs spring back together, give it a little more twist. You want the separation to stay open so you will have enough space between the tips to grab that annoying splinter. This might take a couple of tries to get it just right, but you can always squeeze it back together and try again. You can always bend this around a little later if needed.
Step 4: Complete the Tweezers
Leave the screwdriver between the 2 legs of the cotter pin about 1/2 way up the length of the pin. With your pliers, very slightly bend the ends of the legs together. You don't want them touching, just far enough apart so you can grab that nasty splinter. I have made several of these. I keep one in the house, in each of my tool boxes, and one in each car's glove box. So, that does make this a real Glovebox Gadget.
As a safety factor, before you start digging around in your finger, you should to sterilize the tweezer with some alcohol.
Step 5: The Finishing Touch!
Since the points will very sharp and will also very easy to loose in a tool box or glove box, it would be a good idea to make a holder for your new tweezers. It's no fun if you stab your finger when reaching in your glove box.
To do this you will need a drill bit just a little larger than your cotter pin and a piece if wood slightly longer than the pin.
The length is not really important, but I found it easiest to use a round dowell rod about 1/8" longer than the pin.
Drill a hole in one end of the dowell almost through its length - just deep enough to slide the tweezer in and allow the spring action of the tweezer to keep in in place.
In the pictures above I made one out of a 3/8" dowell rod and one out of a piece of cocobolo wood.
This makes a great little pair of tweezers that are much better than you can buy.
If you like this Instructable, please vote for it in the Glove Box Gadget contest. A 3D printer would be a great addition to my "shop toys". One of the first things I would attack would be to try to improve the design and print some of the flimsy leg clamps that I broke on my tri-pod while taking pictures for this Instructable.