This year I have gone stir crazy about spoons and my new year’s resolution is to make one a week for the whole year. The pic above shows the collection so far. So I thought I would share with you how to make your very own spoon. Stop it, I can tell your excited. The key with making anything like this out of wood is to have patience. Sometimes you can get so bogged down or obsessed with the tiniest details that really don’t matter at all.
- A piece of wood
- A sharp knife – I recommend the Mora 120 BK sharp, cheap and good quality
- A double-edged carving knife – Mora Double Edged Spoon Carving Knife
Optional but recommended extras:
- A pencil
- An axe
- Sand Paper (Grades 60 upwards, depending on how smooth you want it)
- Wax / Oil – Bee’s wax or pure linseed oil
Step 01 – Find a Nice Bit of Wood
To start with try with a softer wood such as pine or spruce. But if you’re ambitious jump in with some harder grained varieties such as silver birch or aspen. Save the harder woods like apple, walnut or oak till you’re a bit more experienced.
Either find a bit of wood that you can use for carving straight away or split a larger log or branch down to size. The below spoon is made from silver birch.
Step 02 – Draw the Design
Roughly sketch out your design onto the wood, it doesn’t need to be exact, but it helps to have a guide to follow. If it’s your first spoon keep the design simple.
Step 03 – Rough Whittle
Usually I would use an axe to get the basic shape – but in this example I used my other knife, because I forgot the axe. Always remember your axe! You don’t need an axe, it’s just quicker and easier. Take your time on this stage, it will take a while to do and rushing can lead to mistakes.
Step 04 – Draw the Design.. Again
This time, rotate the spoon 90 degrees and decide how the side profile of the spoon shall look. This is not a vital step, and if this is your first spoon I would recommend keeping the handle straight. But if you want to have a curved handle, then get drawing and go for it.
Step 05 – Shaping the Spoon Head
I don’t know if there is a correct way of doing it, but I will generally always whittle the head of the spoon to rough size before the handle. This is because after whittling the handle it becomes quite thin and fragile. But there’s no right or wrong way, just go with what feels right.
Step 06 – Creating the Bowl of the Spoon
After whittling the rough shape you can now move onto creating the bowl of the spoon head. Use the double edge spoon carving knife to do this. Be careful not to cut your thumb when pushing this knife forward, as it both sides are sharp! It’s easier to use this tool by holding it upside down in your hand and carving away from yourself.
If you don’t have the double edged carving tool then you can still make the scoop in the knife head. Put a grape sized ember from the fire where you want the depression to be and blow on it till the concave spoon shape slowly forms. This will take roughly 10 – 15 minutes of gentle blowing. It is messier and the spoon head will be charred, but it is a more ancient way of doing it.
Step 07 – Final Shape and Fine Details
Now you can play around with the fine details. Do you want the spoon to be rounded or smooth, or do you want to keep the hard edges and whittle marks? Theres no rules, just go with what looks nice. Once you are happy with the result, you can either leave it as it is – nice and rustic. Or get some sand paper and smooth it down.
Step 09 – Sanding
Now let the sanding commence. I usually start with a grit size of around 80 – 100. After a fairly vigorous sand using this, I will clean with a dry cloth, or my jumper, and move up to 140 grit size. Repeat as before and evenly sand the whole spoon. Once you’re happy with the result, clean thoroughly, getting of all of the saw dust. Then, using an old toothbrush, wet the whole of the spoon, and leave it to dry. Once it has dried you will notice that some parts of the grain have risen. Make sure it is completely dry and give it another sand with the 140, then clean away the dust and wet again. I usually wet the spoon twice. For the last sand I will use the higher grit sizes – around 240. Once you get to this point its time for a final dust off and a wax.
The key here is to gradually use finer and finer sandpaper. I started writing this several months ago, and the finest sand paper I had was 240. I now use up to 600. The final result is a lot smoother, but takes much longer! Also, I usually only wet the spoon once now, right before the final sand. I wanted to leave the previous text in to show that anything goes.
Step 10 – Waxing / Oiling
You’re now ready to polish your wood. Choose a suitable oil for the job. If you are going to use the spoon to eat with, use bee’s wax or raw linseed oil, as boiled has additives added to it. I have only ever used linseed oil so far, which for aspen and birch works beautifully. But there’s a whole range of other oils and wax available, so have a look online and see whats good for your wood. Bee’s wax is a good option
If using linseed oil, apply a thick coat using a cloth or tissue paper. Wipe down, leave to dry and repeat the process. You can also sand in between oiling, but make sure it is completely dry.
If using linseed oil make sure you dispose of the paper or cloths properly as they can spontaneously combust.
Step 11 – Admire and Use Your Very Own Spoon
There you’ve done it. Nice one. It’s likely it’ll look a bit wonky or wobble on the first try, and maybe not even like a spoon at all. But that’s the way its meant to be, part of the beauty, each one is unique. And remember, practice and patience makes perfect. The first spoon I made was interesting crooked old bent charred to pieces little number. But keep practicing, and overtime your hand skills improve you will surprise yourself at what is possible. And nothing beats the satisfaction you will feel after whittling your own spoon. Below is my first spoon of 2015.