Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carving a spoon

Today in the News:  Keep your head low and your powder dry.  That's the best advice I can give you at an hour like this.

Link of the Day: - I stumbled across this blog a few days ago.  This guy is a true artist.  If you don't fall in love with his knives, something is wrong with your mind.  Seriously, check out his site.  You can lose yourself for quite awhile!

The Spoon

I'm not the best at carving spoons.  What I've found out in doing it is that every spoon comes out a little different than I envisioned.  A little bigger, a little smaller, not so deep on the spoon part.  You never know what you're gonna get when you're a hacker like me.

I started carving spoons last fall to keep me busy when I'm just sittin' around,  I don't do well with idle hands, which is part of the reason why I'm doing this blog.  I started out using green tree branches, which ultimately failed.  Using green wood just promotes cracking during the drying process, so all that work?  Yeah, down the tubes.  It doesn't happen every time, but I'm not into taking chances with my time. 

I've used a lot of dry aspen, which is soft and carves nicely, but won't hold up over time, I think.  There isn't much for hardwood out here and, really, I just do it to done it, so this time, I'm using a pine stake that someone gave me.  When using purchased lumber, make sure you don't get pressure treated wood.  That has some nasty stuff in it as a rot preventative.  Of course, by the smell of some of you axehounds, eating something to prevent rot on your insides probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

Here's what I'm starting with - a mora crooked or hook knife, the pine stake and.....

my EDC knife, which is a CRKT Full Throttle Blade assist.  As you can see from the pocket wear, I've had it awhile.

I start by trimming the piece of wood down and with a saw.  I usually think about what size I want the spoon and leave it cut a little bigger than that.  You'll lose size rapidly as you begin to carve.

Then I work on the bowl of the spoon.  When carving, it is easy to forget you're going for a rounded look....

and just work on tapering it.  The harder the wood, the harder this will be.
Then I cut in to where the bowl meets the grip of the spoon.  I always think about it like a fish's gills - that's where I start to cut.

Rough out the handle.....
Work on the gills a little more....

Rounding it up from the bottom of the bowl to the handle.....

Here it is, roughed out.  As you can see, the handle is long.  We'll take care of that later.

Then I start to scoop ot the bowl of the spoon with my hook knife.  When I started doing this, I used a hot coal.  Not fun (unless you're into it), with too large of a margin for error, plus, it takes a long time.  Whoever invented the crooked knife needs an award.

I don't always have the safest knife skills.  Be careful!

Here it is, scooped out.  The bowl is a little too big for my taste, but I was working on limited time. Let's say it is a soup spoon.

Then I hit it with the sandpaper.  I use whatever I have laying around.  Today I started with 60 grit and moved to 150 grit.  Not ideal, but it worked.  Usually I use 80, 150 and 200 (ish).

Sanding where the bowl meets the handle.  This area and the front taper have the most carving, so they need more sanding.

Sanding inside of the bowl of the spoon takes time.  Do it right. You don't want a flap of wood hanging up and a piece of food getting stuck under there.

I trimmed the handle shorter.  This is the end result.

Not my best work, but you get the point. Practice!  Practice!  Practice!

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.


  1. Hi,

    Always nice to see folks getting into spoon carving, it is addictive and a great way of learning good knife and axe techniques. There are a couple of photos there that make me concerned for yours and others safety though, check out where your femoral artery is, carving near it is a common mistake and about as dangerous as waving a knife across your throat.

  2. True story, Robin Wood. I do need to take more safety precautions - for my own health and so the readers don't do what I do. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Looks like you have a functional bush spoon there! Good job.

    I've carved a few forks before, but never tried a spoon. I gotta get to it!