I don't want to poison anyone.
May 1, 2008 6:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about designing and making my own eating utensils, because I am that food obsessed. But I'm unsure of what materials to use.

Ideally I'd like to find a durable, food-safe plastic type material that I could model without industrial equipment, but so far I haven't been able to find anything of that nature. Polymer clay isn't food-safe for example I believe. Does such a material exist?

If not plastic, what would be best - wood (what kind?), metal, ceramic, other? I'm willing to take classes and/or invest in some equipment within reason. I'm mostly interested in making very small things like picks and forks, so it would ideally have to be durable but easy to work in detail. I'm also interested in food-safe colors or paints if using something like wood.
posted by thread_makimaki to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Silver. It's very easy to work with. First step is to get modeling wax and shape it into the form you want. Then you get molding plaster and make a cast of the wax. Melt the wax so that all you have left is the negative cast in the plaster. Melt and pour the silver into the cast.
This was a project we did in middle school shop class. I imagine that if you want more guidance, a local community college metalworking class might be good as well.
Good luck!
posted by jujube at 7:43 AM on May 1, 2008

I suggest bamboo.
posted by peacheater at 7:46 AM on May 1, 2008

Sorry, meant to put in a link.
posted by peacheater at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2008

Stainless and carbon steels. You can buy small quantities in convenient forms, and you can readily find shops to partially or totally machine, heat treat, and finish pieces to high standards, from your prototypes (because designing the next spork might be fun, but making 11 more for your set is kind of drudgery). You can work these materials with tools as simple as a hammer and anvil. You can heat treat and sharpen them appropriately, by hand, with household appropriate heat sources and methods.

They can be made dishwasher safe, but are easily washed by hand. They do not harbor bacteria. They are not poisonous, and do not react badly with acid foods or salts. They withstand cooking temperatures without permanent deformation. They do not give off or absorb flavors. They are long wearing. They can be made fairly elastic (springy), to resist bending, yet they can also (within limits) be forged into permanent shapes. The can be colored with long lasting finishes including anodizing, bluing, staining, powder coating and painting, but do not necessarily need or benefit by being finished for food service use.
posted by paulsc at 7:53 AM on May 1, 2008

Silver casting will be easier if you model in wax and take it to a casting business. They can even do multiple copies if you like.
posted by yohko at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2008

Thanks for all your suggestions! I really like the idea of bamboo for its eco-friendliness though I'll have to see how suitable it is for what I have in mind (is it carvable etc...) The carbon or stainless steel may be best suited. Silver - I have this thing about (against) silver for utensils...I have an old inherited silverware set which creeps me out and is never used...though it does sound the most malleable.
posted by thread_makimaki at 2:18 AM on May 2, 2008

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