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How do I make chopsticks?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Randy Anderson, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Eating with chopsticks is common in my house. My kids learned early on how to use them and I'll use them from time to time. Thinking about making some for stocking stuffers and small gift items. I have some nice wood blanks that would be good to make use of rather than just taking up space. I'm not very good at detail spindle work but can make a straight shaft. The challenge is repeatability. It's hard for me to make two things alike, much less multiple sets. Has anyone made them before and have good ideas for how to mount small spindle stock or some sort of template guide for shape or size? I've looked on youtube and see a number of videos of folks making them by planing and sanding to shape. That might end up being an easier way than turning.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  2. Larry Parker

    Larry Parker

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    There are a few videos on YouTube
     
  3. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Nevermind - after looking at some youtube videos I think some strip glue ups and planing/sanding to shape will be a whole lot easier for me.

    Moderator - can delete this post if you like. thx.
     
  4. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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  5. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Yikes - $250+... I think a little hand work and sanding will suffice for the few I'm making.
     
  6. Robert D Evans

    Robert D Evans

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    If you order them in lots of 500, you can get them for about 6 cents a set off of Amazon.
     
  7. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Want to do them out of different color/types of wood from what I have. Top end alternating light and dark tone pieces.
     
  8. Dennis J Gooding

    Dennis J Gooding

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    I don't know whether it is relevant to your problem Randy, but I have made quite a few hair sticks for friends and use this little jig to hold the partially turned piece while turning the head and tapering the foot of the stick. The center hole is sized for the main body. The other hole provides stress relieve when the tenon is squeezed
    in the chuck.

    IMG_2764p.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  9. Chris Lawrence

    Chris Lawrence

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    I have made knitting needles by passing them through the hole in the spindle a little at a time as i pass the finished end through my live center with the point removed. I slip a piece of 3/8 id tubing on it and use a 4 jaw chuck to hold it. Just take a 3/8 piece of stock and knock the corners off it and it slides right through.
     
  10. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    @Chris Lawrence has a good suggestion. I have use that method for turning a bunch of miniature spindles.

    chop sticks are fairly thick 6mm just under 1/4”. And maybe 12” long.
    This is similar to turning a long stemmed goblet except thicker.

    With a little practice these are easy to turn between centers.
    Or just with a Chuck and a free end.
    Can do them with just a bowl gouge. Can also use spindle gouge and/or skew.

    Grip one end in a Chuck. I use #1 jaws to turn Christmas on finals 7-8 inches long with no tailstock support. At least in the beginning used the tailstock center as a support with the pin removed.

    Try a couple from green wood. Easier to learn with a thicker piece of wood.

    here is Rudy Lopez turning a goblet for the Sarasota woodturners.
    Fast forward to 59 minutes you just need to follow the stem presentation.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7se6hIfivA
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
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  11. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Thanks all for the tips and examples - I'll take a look at the video and come up with something that should work. I have my stock pieces all ready at 5/16+ square and will test a few tomorrow to see how the glued pieces hold. This part didn't take long so should be something I can do quick and easy for gifts. Since not a solid stock piece I'll need to take the layered end into consideration for stress when I turn it. I may sand the top end semi square and taper to the end to avoid putting too much stress on it. Will see.

    Dennis, didn't see a pic of the jig you mentioned.
     

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  12. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Interesting project. I was under the impression and from what I see at a local restaurant, chopsticks are bamboo.
    Randy, interesting that your family uses chopsticks. Had a fellow from Singapore show me how to hold them. Just finished a book by a GI who spent time in Thailand. He won a lot of money from Americans when he said he could pick up a dime with chopsticks.
     
  13. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    They can be bamboo or just about any other material you want, even metal. Whatever works I suppose but I'm sure the purist folks would insist on bamboo. The cheap break apart ones you get at most restaurants don't appear to be bamboo.
     
  14. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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    But look at it. It is just a jig using a plane. Pretty easy to make something like that and use a finishing plane.
     
  15. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Anytime I make long fine pieces, I turn and advance a couple of inches at a time through a pin chuck. I always cut towards the headstock with a skew. I make a shallow cup for the tailstock to keep it centered and with almost zero force on it. Any pressure from the tailstock will bend the spindle.
     
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  16. Curt Fuller

    Curt Fuller

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    I don't know if this has been mentioned Randy, but make sure you use some nice dense and straight grained wood. That's one of the secrets to any small diameter spindle work.
     
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  17. Bill Blasic

    Bill Blasic

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    Perhaps a chopsaw would help:p I know, I know.
     
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  18. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    I like wooden chopsticks with blunt ends, hate the pointy ones. I also like them not with a smooth finish on them, slippery is bad for a tool you're going to use to pick slippery things up. It's been years since I've been able to find the ones I really like, so I recently made a bunch. I happened to have a bunch ~1/4" square stock that was offcut from another project. I held one end in a chuck at the headstock, and the other end jammed into the inner cone of my revolving center with the point removed. I was able to round off one end with s skew in just a few seconds, about two passes, then cut the remaining square end off with a saw and rounded the sharp edges off with sandpaper. You want as little tailstock pressure as possible and support the cut with a finger behind. It made for quite serviceable chopsticks in maple, walnut, and cherry. I did some with a spokeshave too, the lathe was faster. These were meant for daily use, not presentation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
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  19. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I neglected to mention that I can play it on a piano, too. Randy, keep us posted on this project.
     
  20. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Yet another 'round-2-it' project for me. I was thinking of getting some very straight grained wood, ripping on the table saw do desired square blank, an inch or so longer than what I will need, use the extended Vicmark jaws that close down to 1/8 inch or so, and barely put the tailstock on. round out the eating end to a cylinder, leaving the handle square. I also don't like the ones that come to points. Gently ease the square handle part, turn off eating end, part off handle end. It works on paper....

    robo hippy
     
  21. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I like them with the top 2-3" square as well. Round edges but still square then tapered to almost round at tip of about 1/8". First ones I did this morning I copied a simple jig from a youtube video. You plane them down to a taper. I never really mastered the art of using a hand plane very well and still requires too much hand sanding so decided I need to get setup to turn them. I don't have pen jaws (yet) so next stop is making he little jig like Dennis made. I figure if I can get the mfg process going I can put them out at market events as impulse buy items. I have a huge pile of small pieces of nice wood that I can use - always fun to find a use for scraps you just hate to throw away.
     
  22. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    I heard about this on a podcast. The person speaking (not sure who it was any more) mentioned that the plane supplied with this, and the sharpening guide make the price to be very worthwhile. Seems like a lot of $ to me, but they mentioned that it is actually a good price.
     
  23. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I decided not to turn them and went with a home made planing jig that works like the ones I see online. My spindle skills are not great so turning a large pile of skinny sticks to be all the same shape would have been too much work for what I was after. Plus the failure rate for breaking them was likely to be high for me. Tuned up my block plane, glued up some pieces and once going it doesn't take long to make a set of them. Cut the strips out of blanks on the bandsaw, plane them to basic shape on the jig, a little time on the belt sander, few passes with some 220 by hand and done. Attached is my first batch. Shifting to oak and cedar for my next batch, then maybe some cherry. I have a pile of scrap pieces to use so plenty of stock. I did read up on the difference between Japanese and Chinese chopsticks. Mine ended up a mix of the two styles I think.
     

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  24. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Randy, think of this as an opportunity rather than a hassle. If your spindle skills aren't what you'd like, doing chopsticks will make them better. The first 3-5 sticks will be a struggle, but after that you'll become a machine. You can do it!
     
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  25. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    Those look really good.
     

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