Making Wooden Spoons by Hand.

DSC_0149In preparation for this blog post I want to suggest some things that will make the task systematically simple and safe to do. This is all before we get into the actual step by step how-to with drawings and images later this week.  I think that it’s important to establish methods readily inclusive for raw beginners and young people. Many people are using axes and curved and straight knives, more a mainland European method, but I want methods people can use working from a bench or a shaving horse and using green or dry wood whilst supervised to keep smaller fingers, hands and the body safe.

DSC_0727I have always seen spoon making as a first level carving course for every and any woodworker. I also see the methods used as formative to more specialised areas of woodworking such as carving and shaping, which can be used in decorative aspects of furniture making, carving and shaping aspects of boatbuilding, carving and shaping elements of musical instrument making and of course much more than even that. Additionally, carving spoons as opposed to machining spoons gives much deeper insight into the complex structure found throughout all types of wood grain. Using routers and bandsaws, belt sanders remove most skill and does not require the engagement required for hand work . Even though the methods used to carve and shape may possibly end with similar results, this is not so important as understanding the symbiosis in the action of hand tool cutting edges as they penetrate the multifaceted levels working wood grain with hand tools alone brings. Seeing the deeper creative level we enter through hand work is to enter the wood grain. It requires perceptive inquiry and sensitivity to develop shapes of different types in manner that’s controlled and effective. The end result is not the spoon at all but the boat builder and the violin or guitar maker, the kayak and canoe maker and the carver. These are what lie beyond the chips on the floor and the tools on the bench. Don’t be afraid. These steps toward creativity are between you and what you carve. You’ll enjoy the change.

 

6 comments on “Making Wooden Spoons by Hand.

  1. Hi Paul,

    Im In the midst of building my very first work bench…with your plans and guidance of course.

    I am wondering when the posts re: the cane will be available? The reason I ask is because my dad collects canes and I would love make this as a gift for Christmas.

    Thank you, you have inspired me to learn real woodworking. I have been able to gather my grandfathers old planes and saws to begin my journey; with plans to rebuild his old projects we still have, I will continue to look to you for guidance.

    Cheers
    Justin

    • Soon, very soon. The spoons will take about a week I think, and then we will be doing walking sticks and staffs and canes.
      Glad to hear you are getting your granddads tools out and using them too. It must please your dad to see them being used so.
      Best for now,
      Paul

  2. Nice to see you carving spoons Paul and I agree they are a great project for learning transferable skills whatever tools you use. Axes and knives are very much the British tradition for carving spoons though. The major centre of spoon production at Abercych in South Wales is a good example. The Welsh even have a special name for their hook knife the twca cam. Personally I find using axe, knife and freshly felled green wood to be very empowering, simple tools that free me from the bench, it can be done anywhere by people without a dedicated workshop though I can see it having value as an exercise in bench woodwork too.

  3. Hi, Paul. I have been wood/spoon carving for about a year. I have used several methods for removing bulk from the spoon but have never used a spoon gauge (I also makes bowls) and would like to know what size gouges are best for these projects. Also, in the photos and your description, I’m not sure if you use a mallet with the gouge?

    Glad I found your site!

    • Hello Karen, I think this video I made in 2013 will really help you to go with the gouge. I develop the bowl for spoon in 2-3 minutes and it’s beautiful and well formed in an even bowl scallop. I don’t altogether understand the curved knife method if indeed you want to make part or all of your living from it. Not at all saying some don’t, just that it is really quite laboursome and thereby demands a lot to make it work money wise. The gouge on the other hand, combined with spokeshave and rasp, scraper and so on, makes it a truly viable option to create attractive and affordable spoons. I have found that often people find that they can’t make a living making them using knives and such so they start teaching others ‘green woodworking’ and that’s fine but they do often give the impression that they are makers making a living from it when they actually make the bulk of their income from teaching and so finance the making that way. Try the gouge methodology and see how you feel. You may not like it and prefer knives as others do.

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