Toast tongs

Zap-free toast removal

By Shane Eagen

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Photo by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

This is a great beginners project because it demonstrates the flexibility and strength of wood. All it takes is a little water and heat to persuade these tong arms to wrap around a pretty tight corner. You’ll need a straight-grained bend-friendly species of wood like white oak or ash to make the arms. The fulcrum can be fashioned from any little scrap you’ve got in your workshop; I used maple, but a contrasting colour looks good too. In addition to the regular tools, have a bucket of water on hand and a candle (as a heat source) for bending the wood. You’ll also need a small rare earth magnet and a drill fitted with a bit the same size as the magnet.

Instructions

At arm's length

These tongs make great gifts so you might want to build a few at once. Start work on the tablesaw or bandsaw and rip the 1/8"- thick x 1"-wide x 18"-long blank for the arms. Make sure the wood grain runs along the length of the arms and lay out the tapered shape of the arm onto the wood. Don't worry about shaping the taper yet.

Water works

Drop the arm blank into a bucket of room temperature water to soak. While it's soaking, cut out a length of wood for the fulcrum. Roundover the end with a rasp or stationery sander. It's easiest to shape the round end of the fulcrum first before cutting it to it's final length.

After the arm blank has soaked for a few hours, fish it out of the bucket and wipe off any excess water. Hold it about 2" above the candle flame and ensure the heat is directed at the middle of the wood. Apply gentle pressure. After about 20 seconds, the wood will start bending with ease. Keep applying pressure until it's bent in half. Then fit the fulcrum inside the resulting bend and use a small clamp to hold everything together. Set aside and leave to dry overnight.

Propose a toast

Remove the clamp and the arms should hold their shape. Apply some glue to the outside of the fulcrum and clamp the pieces back together. Once the glue has dried, shape the arms and fulcrum to their final taper by holding the assembled tongs against a stationery belt or disc sander. The layout lines should still be visible. To complete the construction, sand the tongs by hand and then drill a hole slightly deeper than the thickness of the magnet into the centre of the fulcrum. Put a drop of glue into the hole and insert the magnet. You can leave the tongs unfinished if you choose or apply a few coats of food-safe finish. Hand-rubbed beeswax or mineral oil works well. Once completed, the magnet will secure your tongs on the toaster or fridge–close at hand for preventing finger-burning toast emergencies.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Arm strip 1/8" x 1" x 18" 1
Fulcrum 3/4" x 5/8" x 1 1/4" 1
Magnet 1/4" round 1



* Length indicates grain direction

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Plans

Toast tongs

Illustration by Len Churchill

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