Recently, my wife asked for a nice set of wooden salad tongs. That seemed easy enough, but as I tend to do, I went a little overboard.
The movie, Avengers: Infinity War is coming out soon, so I’m sure you’ve seen images of the Infinity Gauntlet, the powerful glove that Thanos wears in hopes of controlling the universe. Josh and I decided that not only should we make a simple set of salad tongs with traditional tools, we should totally geek out and make a silly pair of Infinity Gauntlet Tongs on the laser cutter. Comes see how we did it.
Functional Set of Tongs
- Cut Down the Rough Wood
- Add the Slot for the Aluminum
- Shape the Wooden Handles
- Add the Aluminum
- Finish with Oil
Infinity Gauntlet Tongs
For the functional tongs, I use a large chunk of basswood. I drew out the spatula-like shape on the face and cut the thick piece of wood on the band saw. I then turned the piece on its side and resawed the basswood into my two handles. These two halves were still pretty thick and the shape was not yet finalized, all of that would be done with the sanders.
Now here’s your word of warning, the cut I made into the stem of the handles made me a little nervous. In hindsight, I could have made a quick jig to securely hold the pieces while I passed them over the table saw vertically, but I didn’t think of that at the time. Instead, I mitigated all of the risks and carefully passed the skinny end of the handles over the blade to cut in the pocket that would hold the aluminum. This ended up working just fine, but be careful.
This process involved a lot of patience and a lot of sanding. I flushed up the stem edges with the edges of the aluminum and then used the belt sander to finalize the handles’ overall shape. The two handles were pressed together and sanded simultaneously so that their profiles matched. The scoop was carved into the paddles by running them over the rounded end of the belt sander. To round over the crisp edges, I clamped the handles to my work bench and used some files to make some comfortable contours.
For the handles, I used some flat aluminum bar stock that I could bend over to act as a spring. Before I bent the metal, I set the flat bar into the slots on the wooden handles and drilled out the holes for the dowels that would connect the pieces with the drill press. I had some 3/8″ aluminum round bar and cut little dowel pieces on the miter saw. Two holes were drilled through both materials so later, I could permanently peg them together.
To bend the flat bar into a spring, I first scored a groove down the center of the piece to act as a fold line. I carefully heated up the aluminum along this line and hammered the piece over into an acute angle. There was an obvious cut line left in the crease that I wanted to cover up. So, I used a torch and some aluminum rod to braise the crease for some extra strength and to give the handles a cleaner look. All that was left was to drive in the dowels through the attachment holes and secure them in place with some CA glue.
Because this piece will be touching food, I used a butcher block conditioner meant for cutting boards. This product is food safe and won’t leak any harmful chemicals into our healthy salads. I really like this oil because it’s quick and easy, leaves the wood a vibrant color, and I don’t have to worry about it coming in contact with the things we eat.
But Let’s Take it a Step Further!
This project is done. I set out to make a functional set of salad tongs that we could use for dinner and I did that. But…a project this simple begs for a dash of nerd, so we went a little overboard and made something kind silly (awesome) using more outlandish tools. Avengers: Infinity War is coming our this weekend, so Josh suggested that we make a set of Infinity Gauntlet tongs to outrageously compliment our more traditional pair. This project is the perfect opportunity to show the balance of making things for yourself. Designing a project is a balance of function and form, and in this case, we wanted to show the extremes of both options. The original tongs were very functional and had some unique aesthetics, but the Infinity Gauntlet tongs tipped the scales in the other direction by looking super cool and marginally working as pitch tools.
While I was making this functional set, Josh was in the office creating the vector graphics for the Infinity Gauntlet in Adobe Illustrator. He found a reference image online and used the Magnetic Lasso tool to trace around key elements of the image. We wanted the glove to have a layered and 3d look, so he traced out the base shape of the glove and used other gauntlet elements as vertical accents.
It is only fitting that we use the space-age-iest tool that we have to create the Infinity Gauntlet, so Josh took the previous vector graphics and imported them in the Glowforge software for laser cutting. The file was a mixture of cutting, engraving, and scoring, so Josh had to be sure that all of the tiny pieces had the proper settings. Because we were making two halves for the tongs, we had to use most of an entire sheet of material to cut the mirrored sets of pieces. After about 30 minutes of cutting, the tiny, 3d pieces were ready to assemble.
We assembled the 3d gauntlet components together using CA glue to bond each layer. Josh designed a spring mechanism that would connect the two haves at the ends. We also glued this pieces in place and the Infinity Gauntlet salad tongs were ready for a touch of paint. Of course, we wanted to control all the salad in the universe, so we had to add the Infinity Stones. We used some craft paints to color in the 3d stone shapes with their appropriate colors. The maple that we used was already pre-finished, so this meant the silly version of the tongs were all done!
Now, To Find Some Salad!
This was a really fun project. We really wanted build something that showcased the idea that a project could be geared toward beginners with minimal workshop tools who need a practical thing, or it could be aimed at fanboys (or girls) with robot tools that want outrageous things. Regardless of your skill set, workshop size, or tool inventory, you have the ability to turn an idea into a reality…even if you don’t possess the Reality Stone.
(purchasing via these affiliate links supports ILTMS)
- SawStop cabinet saw
- Orbital Sander
- Porter Cable Belt Sander
- Grizzly 14″ Bandsaw
- Grizzly Drill Press (WAAAAY overpriced (3x) on Amazon, buy from Grizzly directly.)
- 2HP Dust Collector
- 1 Micron bag
Finishes & adhesives I like:
- Glowforge (laser)