I get stuff stuck in my teeth. For a while I carried toothpicks in my lunch bag in a sandwich bag. This was great until the toothpicks punched through the sandwich bag and were loose all over the place. All sorts of things can leak out into a lunch bag so you never know what microbes could be growing in there. The idea of putting a toothpick that has been rolling around in mold in my mouth was unappealling.
So my soluton was to put them in a container they can't punch through. I added the rotating cover to dispense one toothpick at a time. Just putting them in a pill bottle was too easy. What's the point of a solution if it isn't overly complex? :)
I wrote this Instructable after I made the project, instead of during, so the photos might not match exactly. It was just so easy and I got in the groove that documentation slipped my mind.
Step 1: Materials
This is what I used for this project:
* A pill bottle with a non-child resistant cap
* A plastic gear with an attached spindle
* A plastic knob
* Rubbing alcohol
* Cotton balls
I realize that plastic gears with attached spindles may not be readily available. You can probably make something comparable by gluing a rod of some sort to a piece of scrap plastic. If you were to use a metal gear and a vintage bottle you could make a steampunk version of this.
Step 2: Tools
Here's what I used to make the toothpick case:
* A drill with a couple of different bits
* Drill bit sizer
* Small files
* Bench vise (optional)
* Bench Vise Work Protectors (optional)
Step 3: The Spindle Hole
The key to this project is having a hole in the lid that is just large enough for the spindle to pass through and turn freely. If the spindle hole is too large the gear won't stay in place. If it is too small the gear won't turn. So you need to make a Goldilocks hole...one that is just right.
First take the lid off the bottle and choose where you want the spindle to pass through. Determine the diameter of the spindle with the drill bit sizer. My spindle didn't corrspond exactly to a standard drill bit size, so I chose a bit that was slightly smaller than the spindle. Then I used a small file to slowly enlarge the hole, until the spindle could fit through and turn freely. I recommend using this method even if your spindle does correspond to a standard drill bit size. This method will allow you to make the aforementioned Goldilocks hole.
Step 4: The Toothpick Hole
Now we will need to make a hole for the toothpicks to pass through. We need to make sure that the toothpick hole in the lid will align with the hole in the gear that will control toothpick release. So choose a drill bit that will be big enough to allow one toothpick to exit at a time. Use this bit to drill a hole in the gear.
Then insert the spindle into the spindle hole in the lid. Use the hole in the gear as a template for marking where you want the toothpick hole to be. Then remove the gear and drill the toothpick hole in the lid. Clean up and or expand the holes as you see fit with files.
At this point I thought I was finished but some prelimenary testing revealed that it would be tricky to get the toothpicks aligned with the gear hole when the number of toothpicks was low. In order to make it easier to feed the picks I used scissors to trim away a section of gear between the hole and the gear's edge to form a roughly triangular opening. This made aligning the toothpicks much easier.
Step 5: Knob and Hole Alignment
After a few days of using the toothpick holder I found that it was difficult at times to grasp the spindle. I also noticed that since the cap and the gear were both white it was tricky to tell if the holes were aligned. I solved both of these problems by mounting a knob to the top of the spindle.
First pick something to serve as a knob. You'll want something that won't block the hole and has a distinctive mark on it. (I chose a long button from a busted scientific calculator.)
Next put the knob in your bench vise and drill a hole the diameter of the spindle. (As with the spindle hole in the lid you may have to drill a hole and expand it with a file).
With the hole made remove the lid from the bottle and rotate the gear until it is aligned with the toothpick hole in the lid. Make a mark on the lid with a marker. Now glue the knob to the top of the spindle so that the unique symbol on the button is aligned with the lid mark. Allow the glue to dry.
Now in order to verify it is open you simply turn the knob until it is aligned with the lid mark.
Step 6: Clean and Load
Now in order to ensure there is nothing nasty in our toothpick holder we'll need to clean it out. Do this by putting some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. Wipe out the inside of the pill bottle and the inside of the lid. Allow it to air dry. When it is dry load in the toothpicks.