Making a hand carved wooden spoon

I’ve got a lot of odd bits of wood around the woodshop at the moment that are too small to do anything much with but far too good to throw out, so I decided to have a go at making some small gifts to give away with them instead.

I have a book about using up offcuts, and one of the projects in there was a spoon and that took my fancy, so off to the workshop I trotted to have a go at it.

Rummaging through my woodpile I found a likely bit of maple to use, then a raid of the kitchen cabinets found me a spoon I liked the shape of to use as a template. This one’s a salad server but I thought it would work anyway. The maple I picked up is only 9mm thick so I decided to reduce the arch of the original and make a flatter version.

This piece is quite a lot darker than the photo suggests, so I used a white pencil. That’s a handy thing to have in the workshop for marking dark woods, plus it’s softer than a lead pencil and the marks are easier to rub out.

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The next step was to cut the basic spoon blank out, and so I reached for my trusty copying saw. Halfway through I heard a high pitched ‘ping’ that anyone who’s got experience with this type of saw knows indicates the need for a new blade, and so I donned my pith helmet and went looking for one in the dark recesses of the workshop that I normally fear to tread. I got out alive and finished cutting out the blank.

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This is where it started to get interesting. Apart from one attempt at a scraper shave some years ago, I generally stick to building with right angles. Working with curves is something new for me. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about shaping it so ended up using a combination of a coarse rasp and a flap wheel in my drill press. Neither worked overly well, and since then I’ve worked out better ways to do it, but we’ll cover that in a future post.

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Even harder than the shaping was the bowl. I have some gouges, but like lots of tools in my workshop they have never been properly restored and were far from sharp. In the end I used a narrow bench chisel, bevel down, and then a convex card scraper to hollow and smooth the bowl of the spoon.

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Card scrapers turns out to be handy for the outside as well, between them and some heavy sanding I got the spoon shaped and ready to be finished.

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The final step was to give it some oil, I used spray canola as I know olive oil goes rancid after a while and I wanted to use a food safe oil. This is the top

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and the back.

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I’m really happy with the result, the design leaves it a little narrow at the neck to be useful as a cooking spoon it will make a lovely salad server once I make a fork to go with it.

The best part of the project was that it was so different to what I normally do. It presented a number of challenges and I found later that there’s better ways to do parts of it, but it’s something that was highly enjoyable to make, only took a few hours from start to finish and was a truly pleasant way to spend a winter’s afternoon. If this post encourages you to have a go at one yourself I’d love to see the results, please post a link in the comments section below.

Cheers

Andrew

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