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a nice pair of tongs

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Project by scottb posted 03-17-2007 06:05 PM 2869 views 8 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last weekend, I was looking for a quick little project to fill in some time, while I was waiting for glue to dry on my little cherry box.

I’ve been meaning to make this pair of tongs, from an older Wood magazine project for some time. I grabbed a piece of nice straight grained oak, I’d rescued from the fire, and proceeded to cut my own quartersawn stock!

Paired up the adjoining pieces and cut out two sets on the bandsaw. A little sanding, then it was off to the microwave for some high tech steam bending!

I put a damp towel between the pieces, and wrapped another around them. 2 minutes on high and that was it. Then I jammed the ends together and let the lignins in the wood set overnight. (the article said It only would take an hour… but I didn’t want the spring to wear out before I even finished, so I waited.)

Some sanding and drilling out the holes for the hinge (1/8” brass rod) revealed cracks in the grain. I wedged these apart and got some glue in there, reclamped them, and waited some more.

All nicely healed, I gleaned up the glue, assembled them (placing a small brass washer in between each piece of wood) and peened the ends slightly. The fit was snug, so the rod probably won’t fall out. Now it can’t!

Then a light final sanding, and a mineral oil finish, and now I have a couple new tools for the kitchen (and my artisan house!), that will let the non-stick pans breathe a sigh of relief. I may even retire their clunky metal brethren!

If I make more of these (and I probably will) I think I’ll make the pieces a hair thicker. These are 1/4” and with the brass rod being 1/8” I’m afraid there may not be enough wood to keep the hinge from popping open when straining. These should be fine with all the Titebond III, but It would also be nice to avoid such repairs in the first place. I’d also like to have a little room to carve out small bowls in the spoon end.

These flip over to fold flat for storage. The second photo is pre-finish. In their raw state, I liked the cleaner grained one better, but the finish really made the other one pop.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/





8 comments so far

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2814 days


#1 posted 03-17-2007 06:13 PM

Nice work Scott. Are those for your BBQ, or for the salads?

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2980 days


#2 posted 03-17-2007 06:17 PM

Thanks Bill… Salads, stirfries, snagging a frenchfry off the bottom of the oven… They’re too short for the BBQ

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2814 days


#3 posted 03-17-2007 06:19 PM

Maybe that is your next project, a longer set for the BBQ. Then you could have them as a matching set.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2745 days


#4 posted 03-17-2007 06:34 PM

Great piece Scott. May I ask where you read about the microwave approach to bending? I have never heard of that before. You refer to an article. Is it from this site or would you mind passing it along? Thanks, and again… great job.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2980 days


#5 posted 03-17-2007 08:42 PM

Chip, I found this project in the Feb/Mar 2005 issue of Wood magazine. If they don’t have the plan, or article on their website, I can e-mail you a photo of the page, or scan a pdf at the office.

here is probably more general info out there with regards to other shapes/sizes, This article (more of a 9 step project than an article) tells you to place one folded, saturated papertowel between the fingered ends of the two pieces, and wrap 5 more around the pair. The 2 minute steam bath must be enough for two 1/4” pieces of oak.

I didn’t have papertowels, so I used two wet, but not dripping, kitchen towels.

I was warned that the wood would be hot right out of microwave, so I wore leather gloves, but found that they were cool enough to touch pretty quickly, wood being a poor conductor of heat and all.

The end result of the bending had the “middle finger” of each handle about 1/8-1/4” out of alignment with the other two. When sandwiched, they lay perfectly flat, nesting together, when flipped around, the offset is just enough to give the spoon ends plenty of space between them. I was surprised at how much deflection there was over the course of 12” and how well the “spring” works.

Later, I’ll try to see how much bend I can get out of some wood with this method. I can pla y around with the offcuts from this project to see if I can get gentle arcs, semi circles or twists.

If only I had a larger (OK commercial sized) microwave, I wouldn’t have to build a box to steam my lamp. That’s one more box on the agenda, and another jig to make to get those legs in shape!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2745 days


#6 posted 03-17-2007 08:58 PM

Thanks Scott.

I tracked it down in my magazine collection. It just went right by me when I bought the mag I guess. Thanks again for the directions.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1992 posts in 3058 days


#7 posted 03-17-2007 11:19 PM

I appreciate your concept of putting artisan’s functional-art in your home. Thanks for posting this. I hope it catches on everywhere.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View trifern's profile

trifern

8132 posts in 2420 days


#8 posted 06-14-2008 03:55 AM

Those are great tongs.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

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