Multi-Purpose Wooden Tongs

If you want a pair of wooden tongs but can't find a decent example in a store, here's a set you can make yourself.

| November/December 1979

  • 060-wooden-tongs-photo.jpg
    A set of wooden tongs is just the thing for grabbing a bunch of salad greens.
  • 060-wooden-tongs-diagram.jpg
    Diagram shows the materials, dimensions, and assembly method for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS wooden tongs.

  • 060-wooden-tongs-photo.jpg
  • 060-wooden-tongs-diagram.jpg

Findin' a pair of wooden tongs can—in this day and age—be about like lookin' for a needle in a haystack. And if you are fortunate enough to locate a wood utensil, its quality will often leave a lot to be desired.

That's why Emerson Smyers (one of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' research department helpers) worked up this dandy little tool for his personal kitchen. He began by cutting and planing two 10" pieces of black walnut wood to 1 1/4" wide and 5/16" thick. Then Emerson set his table saw to cut 1/8" deep (such a setting—on that particular saw—leaves a 1 7/8"-long section of the blade showing above the table top), positioned a stop at a point 3/16" in front of the blade, and carefully pushed each length of wood flat and sideways across the arc of the blade to shape the cupped tong tips. (If you don't have a table saw, a carefully wielded coping saw or round file will accomplish this same task.)

With the tool's "business end" prepared, Smyers cut a 3/8" X 4 1/2" slot out of one of the walnut pieces, and made two 4 1/2" cuts—3/8" apart—in the other piece using a fine coping saw. He then sawed two 45° bevels, beginning 7/16" from the uncupped end of the male side of the tongs.

The rest was simple. Emerson merely rounded the ends on both pieces of wood, drilled a 1/8" hole squarely through both the male and female parts of the hinge (about 3/16" from the end), and drove a 1/8" dowel through all three holes. After trimming the dowel, he sanded the walnut smooth with extra-fine paper, and left the wood's surface in its natural state without any finish.

As far as Emerson is concerned—and his opinion is shared by a whole lot of MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks—metal utensils have no place in the preparation of many kinds of food whether it be stewed fruit, pickled cucumbers, or just plain tossed salad. And any task that demands nonmetallic nippers—from rescuing toast from an electric oven to lifting photo prints out of solution—is a snap for these wooden wonders.

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
11/30/2012 4:18:20 PM

Being wood,will it be hygienic unless it is cleaned well!Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),IndiaE-mail:

Terry Skudder
10/18/2012 12:11:09 AM

I found a perfct set of tongs, well chopsticks actually, in a giftshop. Called (often) "Cheater's Chopsticks, they are hinged at one end so novices do not have loose pieces of stick to juggle. Some versions even have a little springy piece of bamboo to keep them open and ready for use.

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