Spoon Carving

Saturday my son and I decided to carve a couple of spoons.  Why spoons?  That’s a great question.

I recently got the book and DVD set by Paul Sellers called “Working Wood”.  It’s not an inexpensive kit, about $150 depending on where you get it.  On the other hand, it includes a book and 7 DVDs, so (I reasoned) if the content was good it might be worthwhile.

I’ve watched my share of “how-to” videos over the years, and I’m not going to review this set until I’ve watched all of the DVDs and read all of the book, but I can say that it is certainly the slickest production job I’ve ever seen in the genere.  Take a gander at this bit on making a stool and you’ll see what I mean.  I want to live in a castle.

But back to the point of the post.  Why a spoon?

1. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and we wanted to make a gift

2. The first DVD starts with a wooden spatula and spoon as the beginning projects.

I ruined the first two attempts, just going to fast.  It’s been a while since I’ve had shop time and it takes me a while to get my focus.  Nothing major.  On one I carved the bowl of the spoon to deep, and on the other…  Well I carved that one too deep too.  But there were extenuating circumstances, the real problem was that I accidentally split off a piece when chiseling out the profile.

I used a scrap of wood that I believe is Mahogany, I picked it up from a scrap bin at the lumberyard.  I traced around my template in red pen and was ready to make a 3rd piece of kindling.  This is about 3/4″+ thick, I’d rather have something a little thicker next time so I can make a deeper bowl and curved handle.

Spoon Blank – Outlined

One of the great lessons in this exercise is using stop cuts and a chisel.  The entire profile was done with a handfull of stop cuts and a 1″ chisel.  The saw cuts stop maybe 1/8″ above the layout line.  Then I used a chisel to split off the majority of the waste, and then pare down to the line.  On outside curves – like around the front of the spoon bowl – I used the chisel bevel-up.  Paul had some good tips for doing this in the video.  On the concave area along the handle I used the chisel bevel-down.  Split off the bulk of the material, then pare to the line.

Stop Cuts Sawn

This process of profiling the shape took no time at all.  It was faster than sawing it with a coping saw, and instead of a rough, sawn edge you have a slick planed surface.

I sketched in the bowl shape and used a gouge to rough it out.  I need a bigger gouge next time.  I scraped and then sanded the inside of the bowl smooth.  I tried my spokeshave for shaping the handle, but it wouldn’t cut well.  I’m not sure what the problem was — it worked great on pine and cherry.  So I used the chisel to shape the bottom of the bowl, and the handle.

Spoon Profiled

The handle was sanded with 120 and 220, then I gave it a coat of pure linseed oil and wax (no driers).  I’ll let it dry until I’m sure it well cured and then wash it, and then put it to work in the kitchen.  I carved a small design in the handle to balance things out.

Finished Spoon, About 16″ Long

Overall, it’s ok.  Reasonably graceful, it feels nice in my hand.  It was a great learning experience.  I’m going to make a few more for fun.  The next project in Seller’s book is a 3-legged milking stool with a carved (windsor-ish) seat.

Close Up of the Spoon

Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Spoon Carving

  1. Don

    Very nice – I bought Mr. Sellers videos as well and am going to give the spoon and spatula a try. Hope mine turns out as well as yours. Thanks for posting it.

    • I’d love to see your spoon when you make it. The technique Paul shows for removing the waste is great, it’s a real confidence builder. Even when you cut through the bottom of the spoon. Twice.

  2. Great job, especially for a first (okay, third, but first successful) spoon. I’ve been making spoons for a while now, and my preferences have evolved as I’ve used my own spoons every day in the kitchen over the last few years. One of the great benefits, though, is that making spoons has given me confidence with all kinds of contoured shaping.

  3. Ok .. wow! All that production in the videos is kinda distracting. I wish things were as exciting as that in my shop. I’m intrigued by these videos. I do like the efficient presentation of information and the projects look like good one to expand my knowledge.

    Great job on the spoon! What a great idea. Note to self: must do more small projects.

    • It was a great project to do with my son. He made a fork, which gives you an idea how straightforward parenting is at my house.

      He could do it all himself without a lot of instruction (he watched the spoon video with me). I think we’ll make another spoon or bowl this weekend, then move on to the 3 legged milking stool.

      Simple projects are best for me right now. My shop is overrun with chopper parts production. I have drop cloths over my workbench.

      • Yeah! Can you say fence project .. and its a big one. Sigh … so close to finishing my workbench.

        Lookin’ forward to stool project. Maybe your son will want lighting bolts or some thing to make it cool! 😉

  4. Great looking spoon. Have you made the spatula yet? I got the DVD’s and the book a couple of months ago and it’s the best money I’ve spent on anything woodworking. Paul is a great teacher. My spatula looks like a spoon with a hole in it.
    ralph

    • No spatula yet, I skipped ahead in the lessons. I had the same problem in college.

      I’m going to stop by Global Wood on my way home today and pick out some interesting scraps for spoons, spatulas and bowls. I need to pick up a larger gouge too, the one I am using is very deep and only about 1/2″ wide. I want something twice as wide and half as deep.

      • I was lacking in the gouge department too as I had none. I picked up a few from Joel at Tools for Working Wood. Good selection and prices.
        ralph

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