Can You Carve Spoons from Mesquite?

Indeed you can. Someone wrote and asked this question. You can carve spoons and a whole lot more using mesquite. I have made hundreds of items and furniture pieces using this unbelievable wood but it’s not easy. For spoons there is no problem at all though.

Mesquite is one of those treasure woods that’s much maligned by ranchers or loved by them. You can of course do much more than carve spoons from it but spoons are fine too. I once designed a pie point table 6′ in diameter and with added leaves that made it 9′ in diameter for a lady named Karen T in Houston. We took two trees from her ranch, slabbed the boards, dried them and made a beautiful table from wrought iron and mesquite.The design was something you just don’t do with solid wood, but it worked.

 IMG_7266 adj - Version 3I also designed and made the two Credenzas for the Cabinet Room of the White House (below) using Texas-grown mesquite, Texas walnut and oak from a tree planted by President Harrison. The mesquite and the walnut were harvested and dried in  sequentially cut, book-matched boards.

For the inlaid eagles we used figured maple, Osage orange and Texas Walnut. The panel is very beautiful highly figured mesquite in a frame of cross banding and ebony and oak sandwiched between.

IMG_7238The wood we call mesquite is not so  easy to harvest and convert because of its idiosyncrasies, but whatever you make from it will always be stunning. In the US there are 67 million acres with 64 million in Texas alone. Carving spoons can be done in green mesquite and used immediately. You can turn it to any thickness on the lathe including solid and not hollowed shapes and it will not usually degrade through checking at all. I love mesquite. If I had to name my favourite wood,

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I would most likely say it’s mesquite. I have used it on and off, mostly on, since 1987. There is no other wood like it. Ken Rogers who once worked for the Texas Forestry Service in their R&D wrote the book Magnificent Mesquite because of its provision for life through history; I would most likely write one from my perspective as a furniture maker.

8 Comments

  1. Mihai on 2 December 2013 at 1:41 am

    Thank you. Notable book indeed



  2. Charlie Simpson on 2 December 2013 at 2:31 am

    I never realized mesquite is such a popular wood outside of Texas. Thank you sir.



  3. Steve Massie on 2 December 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I will have to see if I can get my Brother – in – Law who bought a small ranch in Texas to bring me a few piece’s when he comes to visit us at the end of January. He currently is a Pilot and wants to retire in Texas with their 5 horses. He mentioned he had a ton of those “small trees” on his ranch which he is clearing.

    Steve



    • Paul Sellers on 2 December 2013 at 9:14 pm

      He should be thankful. You can make spoons from mesquite cordwood, green or dry. Pay him on spoons!!!



  4. Juan Moreno on 3 December 2013 at 8:11 am

    I’m glad to finally see your White House pieces, Mr Sellers! It goes without saying that they are stunning. I really like the sturdy feel that the combination of the base and the pillars give. That eagle is something else. Is the body of the eagle composed of natural grain pattern? It captures the wing and feather patterns of an eagle perfectly! I really like it.



    • Paul Sellers on 3 December 2013 at 8:32 am

      The wood in the eagles is all natural and unstained or dyed. We made the veneers from solid wood on the bandsaw as we did all of the panel veneers, cross-banding inlays etc. The two cabinets are identical book matches because we used book-matched pieces within each piece and then book-matched the opposite pieces which stand either side of the door leading from the Cabinet Room to the Oval Office.



  5. Frank on 25 November 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I have recently delved in to woodworking with a new perspective. My goal is hand tools only. I am finding it difficult in my area to acquire all the different hardwoods. This article has encourage me to utilize the 85 acres of mesquite we live on for my woodworking! Thank you Paul, your wisdom is invaluable.



  6. Eric on 17 February 2019 at 4:19 am

    Is it best to carve green or dried mesquite? I am make a lazy Susan with ovals carved out for dipping sauces or other food. Thanks!