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My Thoughts on the Chopstick Master™ by John Economaki
I have been designing tools full-time for over 32 years and can honestly say that nothing in my past prepared me for the reception of this tool. The whole story is crazy and you can read how this amazing tool came to be here.
What I realized, completely serendipitously, is that we live in a culture that is craving something more than what technology provides. We now have two generations of Americans who likely were never exposed to Industrial Arts in their education. Nobody knows how to make anything anymore and it’s no surprise that some of the best paying jobs in America are plumbers and electricians. I know of kids who had to call AAA because they had no clue how to put the spare tire on their car. Looking back, I wish it was mandatory that boys were exposed to home economics. I also know of one young teenager, who when informed by her father that her checking account was over drafted responded by saying, “That is impossible Dad, I still have checks.” My own grown son recently told me that he will never forgive me for not teaching him furniture making. When I reminded him of his youthful comment that “people who work with their hands are stupid,” he said “I shouldn’t have listened to him.” That is one person who is not getting a family discount from Bridge City!
And the same thing is true in China. Nobody knew how the ubiquitous chopstick was made, and I too was clueless until this little tool popped out of my head.
Between March and August of 2015, over 1,000 pair of chopsticks have been made. The response of the makers, whether here in the U.S, China, or Taiwan is simply pure joy. I have never been associated with any tool that simply makes people feel this good about themselves. And it just may be that during this process, people are rediscovering the enriching experience of “making”. It sure beats being addicted to Facebook.
“What a cool thing, to make perfect and beautiful chopsticks on the first try. In this ‘digital world’ it’s so nice doing something fun by making and using something that is real.”
– R. West, St. Paul, MN
“The Chopstick Master is so much fun it literally tricked some dinner guests into becoming woodworkers. They still send me selfies of them eating with their chopsticks (burritos, with chopsticks, really?), and I won’t be surprised if two of them come back for woodworking lessons.”
– Christopher Schwarz, Ft. Mitchell, KY
The Chopstick Master™ allows anybody, regardless of experience, age 8 and up, to make a pair of gallery quality chopsticks. What I mean by that is they are flawless. Each chopstick starts out as a 270mm x 7mm square blank. When complete, it becomes a gracefully tapered and perfectly proportioned chopstick that is square on the outboard end and transitions to an impeccable octagonal tip either 2mm or 5mm in diameter. The finish of the wood, because it was cut with a block plane, is as smooth as you can make wood. The final touch, a pyramidal finial, is cut with four simple passes over the special crosscut blade and takes less than a minute. This cut elevates the chopstick from amateur status to professional and I assure you, nobody has seen this done more efficiently or more accurate, particularly by someone with ZERO woodworking skills.
In other words, it is possible for one’s very first woodworking project to be perfect. I certainly cannot make that claim and I doubt many can.
“The people behind the Chopstick Master have thought of everything needed to make this remarkable, well-made device something the whole family can enjoy.”
– R. Bare, Preston, CT
“Perfect diamond cuts on the end – I am really impressed, this thing is so much fun. The Chopstick Master™ is even higher on the instant gratification list than turning – this is addictive!
– Konrad Sauer, Ontario, Canada
The Chopstick Master™ comes complete with enough blanks to make 10 pairs of chopsticks, and when you divide the cost of the kit by 10, you can get a ball park cost for a pair of chopsticks. Over a period of time, as you make more and more chopsticks, the initial cost of the unit becomes almost negligible. Currently in the U.S., hand-made finished chopsticks are retailing around $60, and they can go much higher.
For those of you who have a creative voice that needs to be heard, chopsticks make a great platform for expression. They can be painted, air-brushed, gilded, lacquered, embellished, and the list goes on. I have seen chopsticks in both China and Japan that are well north of $500. They make terrific gifts.
For those of you who shy away from using chopsticks, I believe that if you made your own, the impetus for use will overcome current inabilities. Chopsticks are fun and much more graceful than stabbing your food with a fork. And with proper care, a single pair can last a lifetime.
“We hosted a chopstick making party and all our guests were non-woodworkers. Who knew you could make grown men and women so happy by building chopsticks – we had loads of fun!”
– M. Garahi, Denver, CO
The Chopstick Master™ is a professional tool with an all metal base and is designed to last multiple generations. And to see first-hand the joy I have described above, I invite you to host an Asian food themed party where your guests make their own chopsticks or “they go home hungry.” I have hosted five such parties this summer and the results are identical – it is a giant fun fest! I guarantee you will have hosted one of the most fun and memorable dinner parties your friends have ever experienced.
When you ponder the price of the Chopstick Master™, ponder this: we have sold thousands of the HP-8 Mini Block Plane that is included in this kit for $249 and up. The Chopstick Master™ is the best tool value we have ever produced, and clearly the most fun tool you will ever use.
Thanks for checking out our exciting new product. I can’t wait for you to try it!