Carving a Spoon

Spoon carving is a quick, satisfying introduction into green woodworking

 
 
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Wood Selection

  • Wood is harvested while green, meaning it still has a good deal of moisture within it still. It could be a recent blow-down or one that is chopped down. I harvest wood selectively so that I'm able to use as much of the log for spoons as possible. Every part of the tree is used: the bark for tool sheaths, the shavings as fire starters and mulch, any off-cuts as firewood, and even the branches for my garden's walls.
  • Since a knot could present issues with cracking or point to unstable, weaker spots within the wood, it is beneficial to look for wood, or sections of a log, without them. A tree that have grown amongst other trees waits to put out branches until it can successfully compete for sunlight with the canopies of the trees around it, ensuring that more clear wood will be present in the trunk. If branches are used, knots should also be avoided if possible.
  •  If using the trunk of the tree for spoon blanks, it becomes possible to split the log very efficiently to yield a large number of spoons. 
  • Spoons can be oriented tangentially or radially.

 


The tools ///  Roughing a Spoon

  • A carving axe can do quite a bit during these beginning steps of the spoon carving process. Depending on the size of the tree, you could fell the tree with the same axe you are using to carve spoons. The axe is used to carve out the general shape of the blank before straight knives, gouges, or hook knives are used.
  • A froe may be used to split the section of log in half. In a small branch, it is usual to get one blank from each side of the log. This is done so that the pith, or very center of the tree, can be cut out. All cracks will radiate out from the pith if it's left in, so taking it out at this stage is very important to avoid cracks later.
  • Spoon layout can be done directly on the wood or improvised.
  • An axe is used to remove as much material as safely possible. 
  • The crank, or angle at which the handle relates to the bowl of spoon, is created at this stage by taking a sharp cut inward with the axe. If a branch has a natural crook or bend it can be used to establish this line. Many carvers seek these branches out because the crank follows the grain of the wood, making it an inherently stronger form.
  • A straight knife, sometimes called a sloyd knife, is used to further refine the form.
  • A hook knife or gouge is used to carve most of the material out of the bowl of the spoon, leaving enough so that finish cuts can be taken after the blank has dried. Taking these finish cuts after the piece has dried produces a much finer finish straight off the knife.
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Finishing a Spoon

  • After the blank has dried - which may be a few days up to a week or two depending on how thin it is and the climate - finish cuts can be made.
  • A straight knife can be used for most of the finishing cuts, with a hook knife or gouge used for the fnishing cuts in the bowl of the spoon.
  • Though all of my wooden ware now sports finish cuts that come straight off the knife, I used to sand some of them. Many people sand their spoons. It leaves a very satin-like surface, but can sometimes leave a fuzziness after years of use. I still love them.
  • Spoons can be decorated using chip carving, paints, or pyrography.