After a little over 3 years of carving spoons, I thought it would be cool to show you the evolution of the spoons I’ve made. Hopefully I can relay some tips along the way! 🙂
After hastily throwing my first spoon away in the midst of a move, I wish I kept it. To remind myself how it all started.
My boyfriend had these REALLY cheap set of carving knives. So I dug out some scrap pine boards from my parents basement, sketched out a rough shape for the spoon, and started using the curved gouge knife from the set to carve out the bowl of the spoon.
It didn’t take many spoons to eventually break off the metal tip of the gouge. Even using these cheap carving tools on pine (a soft wood) was too much for them.
Getting more serious, and getting serious tools
That Christmas I was gifted a spoon carving knife with the curved blade (barely visible in the picture to the left). It was a great first carving tool. Once I got this knife I decided it was time to try some hardwood. Pine is great to start out with, but it is a soft wood that dings easily and doesn’t really last. Plus mine was still a bit sticky with sap and was annoying to carve with a sticky blade.
Graduating to hardwood
The first hardwood project was making some small spoons out of Jatoba (aka Brazilian Cherry). Little did I know it was one of the hardest types of wood as most tropical/exotic woods are. To better illustrate how hard this wood is, here is a handy chart that lists in order from hardest to softest.
This is also where I learned how to really hold a carving knife. After several cuts and nicks from misplacing my hands to hold the project down, I learned to control a finer carving technique.
Other hardwood projects
After an introduction to hardwood carving with jatoba, I was scared all hardwood was going to be as difficult to carve. But I didn’t want to give up! Because once the oil touches a finished project, something magical happens. You forget all the nicks, cuts, and hours of sanding. It feels worth it.
I bought some maple and walnut since they are popular woods to work with. It was such a relief to find out there are more manageable hardwoods!
The tool that saved me hours of carving
I made several spoons using the curved spoon carving knife. Then I decided to see how others carved their spoons from watching youtube videos. I came across Paul Sellers youtube video where I learned how using a gouge would save me hours of hand carving with the hook knife!
Carving details and unique shapes
Eventually, I added a straight carving blade to my collection for adding a lip to the bottom of the spoon bowl, where it attaches to the handle. Later the straight blade led to more intricate shapes, particularly for the handles of my spoons.
I started using a straight blade from the same store I first got my hook knife for Christmas, but later I bought a Morakniv and haven’t gone back. The Morakniv is well priced and very versatile. The only downfall is that it’s a softer metal, so the blade needs to be sharpened more frequently.
Sanding is a big part of finishing a project. Particularly for an item that is expected to be used frequently like a kitchen spoon. I start from 80 grit – 120 grit – 220 grit – 320 grit – 400 grit – 500 grit – 600 grit. I know others who go into the 1000’s, but I haven’t decided to go that far yet 😉 I learned each grit needs dedicated time and is crucial in removing the scratch marks from the previous grit.
Another important step I soon learned about, was wet sanding. Wet sanding is simply wetting the wood between some of the higher grits. This stands all the split/loose fibers of the wood up so you can then sand those off to achieve the smoothest surface possible. It’s amazing how smooth you think a project is until you wet it!
I’m constantly learning more techniques and finding inspiration from other woodworkers on Instagram, and in Woodworking Facebook groups. Thankfully, most people who have taken to woodworking are nice and willing to share their knowledge and tool resources. Hopefully you can take away a few tips from this! Eventually I’ll make a how-to for making your own wooden spoon. Stay tuned!