Multi-Purpose Wooden Tongs

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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.