Earlier this year I got to use an early prototype of the Bridge City Tools Chopstick Master during a trip to Portland, Ore. (Read about that here.) After planing out a pair of Japanese-style sticks, Bridge City founder John Economaki asked if I’d be interested in testing the second prototype.
Hmmm. Food. Woodworking. Could I add alcohol to this equation?
And thus began the idea for the chopstick-making party we held last night. We gathered eight adults and two teen-agers who were mostly non-woodworkers to make chopsticks. Their reward for success? Getting to use their chopsticks instead of their hands to eat Chinese take-out.
Earlier that day I prepared the 7mm x 7mm blanks for the chopsticks using a bunch of exotics and domestics. I was thrilled to get to use some Ancient Kauri (40,000 years old) that has been sitting in the racks for years. Plus bog oak, teak and mahogany left over from “Campaign Furniture,” heart pine from an old factory, Douglas fir, Port Orford cedar and white maple.
The guests picked their woods and did all the operations themselves as I observed and stopped them from making the occasional mistake. This was the flaw in my food+woodworking+alcohol plan. I had to stay dead sober and be the “responsible” one who kept his “underwear in place.”
Biggest lesson: I had no idea there were so many ways to hold a block plane (pinkies up, really?).
After planing the chopsticks to shape, they sawed the tiny pyramid shape on the ends using an integral sliding table that works like a mini-Jointmaker Pro. Then they sanded the sharp corners and finished their chopsticks with mineral oil.
All in all, everyone was thrilled to get to make something useful with their own hands and in just few minutes of work. All the chopsticks worked great – until we brought out the cheesecake. Then we had to switch to forks.
I definitely will buy a Chopstick Master when it comes out. It is simply too much fun, and I love anything that bridges the gap between my love of food and woodworking. (This is why I’ve been obsessed with treenware for so long and follow the Hungry Squirrel on Instagram.)
Which begs the question: When will John Economaki invent Fork Master or Teaspoon Master?
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. If you are interested in Chopstick Master you can sign up to be notified when it is available at chopstickmaster.com.