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hand carving spoons

 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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This is a timely revival for me. I have just gotten back to carving spoons after a long lapse, and took some pictures to share.

The top spoon is one I made 25ish years ago in a green woodworking class, with hand tools only. It was a freshly-cut sycamore sapling (so I couldn't make a wide bowl). I never quite finished it, though it has been used occasionally.

The middle and bottom ones are from a black walnut that blew down last summer on a friend's property. She let my best friend and me take the wood for carving and sculpture. He split the sapwood off some stove-length logs to expose the heartwood, and I gathered some of the splits that had heartwood showing. The small one was my first essay, roughed out on a table saw because that was what was to hand. The heartwood was very thin, which limited the depth possibilities. The big one (17" long) was also shaped on a table saw, and the bowl and fine surfaces finished with a gouge (Swiss Made 7/25 curve, which is excellent for all but the deepest spoon bowls). This piece was adjacent to a knot, which made nice curvature for the handle and bowl. Files and sandpaper took the surfaces to exact contours, though they are not quite finished yet.
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15", 9", 17" long
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this one balances very nicely
 
Posts: 17
Location: CT. Zone 6a
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I've been averaging maybe one spoon every two months, typically when I find a piece of wood that looks like it belongs as a spoon.

I really like the way mulberry comes out, and the good thing is I have 4 mulberry trees in my yard, 3 of which needed heavy pruning last winter.

For the salad tong, I split a piece of maple firewood and liked how crazy the grain was.  I'm just waiting to find a counterpart for it with equally crazy grain and I'll have a set of salad tongs I made.

The birch spoons were surprisingly easy to work; they came from two pieces of firewood we got while camping in VT.  The one with the hole in the bowl was caused when I went too deep carving the bowl.  But it was really fun to do those, I roughed them out with just a hatchet, hook knife, and straight mora knife.  Once they dried I finished them with the knife and sandpaper.

The bowl was my first and only so far, but was very fun.  Roughed with the adze I bought from Bulgaria or some such place on ebay, and finished with a gouge.  Finished that one with just Alfie Shine, which is a lovely product.
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mulberry ladle
mulberry ladle
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mulberry ladle side
mulberry ladle side
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salad tong? (maple)
salad tong? (maple)
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my first bowl (maple)
my first bowl (maple)
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birch spoons
birch spoons
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mulberry spatula
mulberry spatula
 
Posts: 133
Location: Kooskia, ID
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I started carving spoons not too long ago. Here are a couple of my latest. Aspen and birch wood.
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Posts: 7692
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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It's great to see everyone's spoon projects posted here!

Here's another video I ran across...green wood, hand tools...
He packs a lot of 'how to' into a few minutes of video.


and he's a chair maker...outstanding!
Peter Galbert Chairs
 
Posts: 37
Location: Thorndike, Maine
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There are some beautiful utensils in this thread. Very inspiring. I got into spoon making this winter and have really enjoyed the process. Using only my hatchet, circle blade, and wanta forge pukko, along with some sand paper.
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Jackson Vasey
Posts: 17
Location: CT. Zone 6a
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Here are a couple I did for gifts this year, out of a 100+ year old mulberry tree that fell down at my dad's house.
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Posts: 14
Location: North Georgia
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Hey Judith. I just started making ladles! I work in a stairbuilding shop so I have access to any tool I want. All the wood I use is just scrap pieces, so I am pretty lucky! What I do is start with a square piece, cut out the rough shapes on the band saw, then move over to the belt sander to round things out. Then I use a drill press to make the concave part. I start with a 2 inch drill saw, then move to 1.5 inch, 1, .5, etc. Then I smooth things out with my bosses round chisel, and then finish off with a die grinder with a circular sanding attachment. It's a lot of equipment and totally unnecessary, but that's how I figured out how to do it! I'll post a picture of one later.
 
pollinator
Posts: 362
Location: Poland, zone 6, CfB
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These spoons made me speechless ...
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gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2002
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Those are some BEAUTIFUL spoons!!!

Here's a fun spoon thread that might be useful to anyone reading this thread. PEP/PEX wooden spoon
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Richard Gorny wrote:These spoons made me speechless ...



Wow!!!  those are wonderful Richard.

Do you happen to know who made them?  I would love to see more of their work.
 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
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Judith Browning wrote:

Richard Gorny wrote:These spoons made me speechless ...



Wow!!!  those are wonderful Richard.

Do you happen to know who made them?  I would love to see more of their work.



Here is the link: Giles Newman Website
 
Judith Browning
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Had to add more of Giles Newman's work to this thread...so sculptural and inspiring!

Thanks so much for posting the link Richard...
 
Posts: 29
Location: Southern Sweden (USA zone= 7a)
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A few spoons from my woodpile of miscellaneous hardwoods cut down over the years.




sked.jpg
My first carved spoon- from apple wood.
My first carved spoon- from apple wood.
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A cubist inspired carved spoon from apple wood.
A cubist inspired carved spoon from apple wood.
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A gift for a wonderful friend. Carved from pear wood.
A gift for a wonderful friend. Carved from pear wood.
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Very beautiful R!!!

For those who are inspired, here's a thread to show off that first spoon you make (or the 1000th).  PEP BB for carving a spoon  
(Please note the requirements in the first post of the BB if you want to be certified)
 
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kevin stewart wrote:Hi
Where is your welsh love spoon?



My husband is Welsh and was taught spoon carving by his uncle.

Is there any way to keep the wood from drying so quickly? On my first ladle, I ended up having to scrap it because I didn’t finish it before it dried too much to carve.
 
pollinator
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
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Hi Whitney -

My solution to the drying problem is to start with really dry wood. I tend to pull pieces out of the firewood pile as I come across them and say "that's too pretty to burn." If the wood is already a year or more seasoned, and especially if it's been split, then it's probably done all the splitting it's going to do. That's the theory, anyway.

I know it's not a spoon, but this carrier for our milk bottles was a project that helped me while away a few hours during lockdown earlier in the year. It was two pieces of Tasmanian blackwood that got rescued from the firewood stack. This is an excellent carving wood and I'm making a spatula and a spoon from another piece.



 
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Look so nice. You have a talent.
 
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Whitney Dee wrote:

kevin stewart wrote:Hi
Where is your welsh love spoon?



My husband is Welsh and was taught spoon carving by his uncle.

Is there any way to keep the wood from drying so quickly? On my first ladle, I ended up having to scrap it because I didn’t finish it before it dried too much to carve.



My humble but experienced opinion:  1. Spoons traditionally carved in green wood; carve the cheese, then turn it into concrete.  2. Traditionally, including Wales, is store the unfinished spoon under the bushel-size pile of shavings on the floor-- the wood you took off keeps the wood you want moist.  3.  Substitutes include multiple cloth bags, cardboard boxes, etc. to slow drying, with plastic bags being last choice as too unbreathable (I've used plastic for very short periods, preferably with lots of small holes.)  4. Alternatively or additionally, oiling the unfinished spoon (or usually a larger object like a dough bowl), especially any areas suspected of a tendency to crack, then carving that off the next day. But any areas left oiled may make the final oil finish look uneven.  5. Traditionally, carve the whole spoon in one sitting (from the hewn blank), down to virtually tool-finished, then leave it to dry slowly (away from breezes) while you carve a dozen more.  Traditionally, they were sold at this stage, "in the white", that is, dried but unfinished.  Nowadays, do the boring but esthetically and commercially necessary sanding once they are fully air dried.  (I've known spoon carvers to dry them, then wet-sand in front of a tub of water.  This keeps the dust down nicely but takes expensive wet & dry sandpaper.)  Traditional is in fact to scrape, with curved-edge metal scrapers, or for poor farmers. bits of broken glass.  5.  avoid as much of the cracking as possible by attention to the grain.  6. Some species (notably hackberry and persimmon) are especially prone to staining if not carved completely in one sitting.
 
Judith Browning
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I ran across this French woodworker who carves wonderful spoons!
There are lots more examples of his work at this link.....
FERRÉOL BABIN  SPOONS

Ferréol Babin dedicates half of his time collaborating with various furniture and lighting editors where he can incorporate his singular vision and approach of design. The other half is spent on making unique pieces, with an obvious brutalist yet delicate approach.
Dirty-hands, mix of mediums such as painting, sculpture, design and handcraft play their role in each of his creation.
His projects are always based on an awareness of function and rationality, combined with a poetic and emotional dimension.





 
Posts: 108
Location: Japan
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I'm a complete novice. Never done any kind if woodcarving at all but I'd love to be able to. Where do you recommend I start learning? (Online only as i'm in Japan) and what tools will I need to carve a spoon? Thank you! :)
 
Posts: 78
Location: 6.b.
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I've never hand carved a spoon, so these don't really count. I designed it in CAD and then milled them from a maple board. They went out with small jars of honey with chilis in them as Christmas gifts. Someday I'll try carving one from wood, I'd really like to try working with Osage (hedge apple).
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steve folkers
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N.Y. Anzai wrote:I'm a complete novice. Never done any kind if woodcarving at all but I'd love to be able to. Where do you recommend I start learning? (Online only as i'm in Japan) and what tools will I need to carve a spoon? Thank you! :)

 
I myself always advised against rushing out and buying a lot of expensive tools.  Traditional is carve with what you've got.  Also. traditional is mostly carve with one sharp knife, though unless its a bent knife (the Canadian preference), you'll also need some sort of gouge to dig out the bowls.  And stones to keep them sharp.  But mostly, start carving some, which will let you know what you need.  I carved green wood whenever I could, which is also traditional, and way easier for hard woods, but takes experience working green wood, learning how to work it so it will dry without cracking.  I say traditional, but I only know of Western--  the peaks of traditional woodworking on this planet were Scandinavia and Japan, so you're better set than me for the latter.  I ended up using broad hatchet, drawknife, spokeshave, gouge, a 1" chisel (as a push knife), a carving knife, occasionally scrapers (but usually used the knife as a scraper), and sandpaper-- but these were all things I had.  

There are some great websites on spoons, but I mostly found them highly inspirational, more than how-to, and I don't have any list of them.  Just search for wooden spoons, etc.  But the two books I started with long ago would certainly be Swedish Carving Techniques by Wille Sundquist (1990) and Country Woodcraft by Drew Langsner (1978), which has a chapter on spoon carving that was the result of a visit from... Wille Sundquist.
 
Posts: 1536
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N.Y. Anzai wrote:I'm a complete novice. Never done any kind if woodcarving at all but I'd love to be able to. Where do you recommend I start learning? (Online only as i'm in Japan) and what tools will I need to carve a spoon? Thank you! :)



YouTube has loads of information. Jorge Sondquist has a series of videos demonstrating the various knife grips and cutting techniques, highly recommended. Jorge also addresses tools.
Barn the Spoon has a series of "Silent Carving" videos that are inspirational and educational. You see exactly how Barn does every bit of each of the different spoons that he demonstrates.
 
N.Y. Anzai
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Peter Ellis wrote:

N.Y. Anzai wrote:I'm a complete novice. Never done any kind if woodcarving at all but I'd love to be able to. Where do you recommend I start learning? (Online only as i'm in Japan) and what tools will I need to carve a spoon? Thank you! :)



YouTube has loads of information. Jorge Sondquist has a series of videos demonstrating the various knife grips and cutting techniques, highly recommended. Jorge also addresses tools.
Barn the Spoon has a series of "Silent Carving" videos that are inspirational and educational. You see exactly how Barn does every bit of each of the different spoons that he demonstrates.



Thank you! I'll check them out!!

And for the poster above I'll definitely not be rushing to buy expensive tools. I'll look at secondhand ones if I need any :) Thank you for your book recommendations too! :)
 
Peter Ellis
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Just a note: Wille is Jorge's father and it looks like I misspelled their last name ;)
 
Posts: 81
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Wow so much talent!  Beautiful!
When we trimmed our mulberry last winter that was exactly what I did was start to carve me some spoons. Even using the freshly cut wood my hands were so sore (arthritis) I couldn’t use them for anything else for the following week.
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Mary-Ellen Zands
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Hopefully I can finish them this winter.
 
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