Charles Forster and Toothpicks
The preferred wood for toothpicks is White Birch because it is white, tasteless, strong enough, and straight grained. I read that about 4 million board feet were used annually in the U.S. They cannot use any red colored heartwood so the logs are reduced to "bolts" from 10-1/2" to 24" in length and 8" to 20" in diameter. The "bolts" must be clear and are reduced to about 3" cores after turning. They are turned to "ribbons" 1/20th" thick x 2-7/16" wide, which are then fed into a pointing machine that bevels the edges. (I measured the toothpicks we have at home and they are 2-9/16" long). The strips are then wound onto a spool and when the spool is full, the roll of veneer is slipped off and taken to a cutting machine. Approximately 154 toothpicks are punch-cut from each linear foot of veneer. Next they are dried for about 2 hours in a kiln and finally finished in a polishing drum filled with a small amount of powdered chalk or shaved paraffin which gets rid of any rough edges and gives them a bit of a glaze. Finally, they are boxed by machine and ready to go to market.
© 2002 by David Mather. All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.