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Spoons, Spoons and More Than Just Spoons

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Every so often you get asked to do something that’s just a shade out of the norm or absolutely not the norm. Making spoons is quite normal for me and making 35 is not quite so normal even though I have made thousands of them through the years. My first spoon was made in Texas when a Texan said he needed a mesquite spoon and a mesquite bowl to eat his oatmeal from. That was somewhere in 1988 I think. Back then 50% of my earnings came from turning 50% from furniture making. Mesquite trees surrounded me for hundreds of miles and was my chief supply of free wood for both making and heating. It is the only wood I ever used that could be turned green without cracking or checking, even if the piece was not hollowed out. Anyway, my first spoon sold for $20 and every spoon I sold after that started at that price and went on up depending in the intricacies of carvings etc.

Some of you wrote me and asked for pictures of the recent order and so I have just stacked them up for you to look at. I did enjoy making them and thinking about the people who would receive them as Christmas gifts. DSC_0016Cynthia, the lady who ordered them for staff and friends of the health care clinic she runs, came to one of my month-long courses as a beginning woodworker where she made the coffee table and the rocking chair. In one month and with no prior hand tool woodworking experience she became a competent woodworker in her own right. You judge it. DSC_0189How many woodworkers get to make this quality of furniture after a three-day introduction and without turning on a machine.

OK, enough said, here are the spoons I made over the past few weeks in individual format.DSC_0184 DSC_0173 DSC_0137 DSC_0141 DSC_0150 DSC_0154 DSC_0200 DSC_0138 DSC_0117 DSC_0203 DSC_0202 DSC_0119 DSC_0120 DSC_0133 DSC_0134 DSC_0169 DSC_0168 DSC_0157 DSC_0139 DSC_0172 DSC_0187 DSC_0194 DSC_0198 DSC_0179 DSC_0177 DSC_0161 DSC_0131 DSC_0183 DSC_0128 DSC_0175 DSC_0190 DSC_0206 DSC_0196 DSC_0144 DSC_0147 DSC_0116

13 Comments

  1. Andy_in_Germany on 16 December 2013 at 10:12 am

    This is the sort of thing I’d like to do: with the low overheads and simple tools it could be a way to be self employed and sidestepping the rule in Germany that to be self employed you need to invest lots of time and money in getting a masters’ qualification.

    What I don’t understand is who would buy such wooden spoons? I’m wondering if this is more a British or US tradition that we don’ have in Germany, or maybe I’m just out of the traditional woodworking network. Will have to investigate. If you have any information or contacts please let me know…



    • Antonio Samagaio on 17 December 2013 at 10:06 am

      A few years ago, here in Portugal, wooden spoons were all over the places, kitchens, dinners, canteen, used for cooking etc. Then a “new EU health regulation” banished almost all wooden acessories in the kitchens.
      In some regions in US or UK, Ireland, nothern France for cultural reasons, or philosophical ways of life (vegans, maintain the food energy, etc)



      • Paul Sellers on 17 December 2013 at 12:34 pm

        The health authorities have to cater to their inability enforce laws making people take care of the most basic needs like washing hands after going to to the toilet. Caterers are noted for this I am afraid. They therefor must create boards that will withstand sterilising washes by machine and heat. they knew this to be a fact of life. Just 5% of people wash there hands long enough to eradicate germs after visiting the toilet. very bad. Men are less likely than women to wash their hands.



        • Dennis Hagerman, retired Waldorf Educator on 7 July 2018 at 8:33 pm

          While discussing wooden block flutes, as opposed to plastic ones
          (we were in Germany), someone mentioned that bacteria would not survive on wood, though it could on plastic…? I’ve made many, many wooden spoons and no one has yet gotten ill from them – at least that I know about.



  2. Steve Massie on 16 December 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Paul very nice job on the spoons indeed, I really like them and anxious to make a few myself. I have a Brother – in – Law who recently bought a small ranch outside of Dallas and has many Mesquite Trees he is clearing from his property. He said they are more on the smallish side but said he will bring me some wood when he comes to visit us at the end of January. He is a Captain for US Airways and will be flying to Orlando then for a few Day’s. I am excited to give this a try, I am going to make a couple different templates like you showed and will have my #7 Pheil gouge ready to go after seeing how Joseph sharpened them, I was lucky and found a nice used one for $15.

    Steve



  3. moore.cynthia.n on 17 December 2013 at 1:31 am

    Paul- the spoons look even better when in hand ! I have attached a tag to each spoon with your notes about the origin of the wood and your transformation of it into something that feels just right in the hand and will serve forever. Each is a treasure. I am honored to have these as my Christmas staff appreciation gift. Thank you so much for your skill, thought and care which is apparent in even these simple pieces of craftsmanship. I’m sure they will become heirloom pieces in 36 homes ! And even better, I now have 36 templates to emulate ! x0x0x -cynthia



  4. Antonio Samagaio on 17 December 2013 at 10:08 am

    Mr Paul what kind of finish do you apply to the spoons, in order to be heath safe for food?



    • Paul Sellers on 17 December 2013 at 12:38 pm

      ALmost any vegetable based oil will work if you are going to use the spoon within a week or two. Even then, though some people say this will go rancid, I have never found that, and I lived in Texas for twenty years. Mineral oil will not go rancid. There is also a finish called salad bowl finish.



      • Paul Sellers on 17 December 2013 at 12:38 pm

        Also, the spoons really need nothing on them at all. They will just get boiled up as they get used.



  5. Marius on 17 January 2014 at 11:37 pm

    What kind of wood are you using to make these?



    • Paul Sellers on 18 January 2014 at 2:39 am

      Alder, but almost any wood from the woods will work for spoon making.



  6. Taylor Wingerd on 18 June 2014 at 9:09 pm

    What woods should not be used for spoons, cutting boards, etc.



    • Paul Sellers on 18 June 2014 at 9:38 pm

      Hardly any are not useable. You have to consider density and hardness, toxicity too. I don’t know of any toxic woods in the UK or the US besides yew. That doesn’t mean I am right. There are wood societies armed with this info. Contact them via google.



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