2 years ago today I had just completed my first wooden spoon of the year. It was the start of a slightly bonkers challenge for 2015 where I decided to carve a spoon, using only hand tools, for each week of the year. I completed the challenge and ended up giving a handful away, keeping my favourites, and selling about 35 of them – donating half of the money towards the charities I supported whilst swimming the Thames. To see all the spoons take a look here.
So, if you bought one of the spoons, or gave it to someone as a present it is about time it needs an oil. What if I don’t have any special oil I hear you ask? Not a problem, just use regular sunflower oil. Apply it to some paper or a cloth and wipe onto the spoon. This will keep the wood nice and supple and stop it from drying out. Don’t use olive oil though, it will make it smelly.
And don’t oil if you bought:
Spoon 23 – The Paella Server (Just oil the unpatterned side) – Anna Hobbiss
Spoon 34 – The Egg and Spoon Race Spoon (Just oil the spoon bowl) – Antony Joury
Also, I would love to see some pictures of the spoons in use, or wherever they may live now Happy Spooning!
A few weeks ago I completed my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 – to make a spoon for each week of the year. This was by far the best new year’s resolution I had ever done. I can’t even remember any of the previous ones.
I had carved around 3-4 spoons before starting this project, so I knew the basics, but I was still a novice. I made all the spoons using hand tools only – an axe, a carving knife, a hook knife, some chisels, sand paper and oils. I did this because I wanted to improve my knife skills and wood working ability, it meant I could work on the project wherever I was and partly because I didn’t have access to any machinery or power tools.
Spoon 52! I made this spoon this morning, just about managing to finish my weekly challenge for 2015. I can’t quite believe I managed to keep it up for so long. I will do a round up of all the spoons and my thoughts about making them and what I have learnt in a separate post… Mainly because I am about to hop on a train and wanted to post this one before the end of the year.
Whilst making Spoon 50 and 51 a friend of mine paid me a visit, and made his very first spoon. I gave him a bit of wood I found in my mum’s shed, it looked like it once had a former life as a bench of some sort. I was impressed with the finish on the wood, it was black with age and looked as if it had been burnt. So I decided to use another bit of this bench to make my final spoon. A straight edged, un-assuming spoon.
That’s it folks! I need to think of something to do for next year now…
I collected this bit of spruce whilst doing the Bear Ski in Northern Finland earlier this year. The wood was laden with resin which smelt amazing, but made the wood tricky to carve and sand. I made this alongside spoon 50 yesterday and my hands feel sore today.
Half a century of spoons! Never thought I would be saying that. Made this one yesterday from a bit of cherry my granddad gave me earlier in the year. Beautiful wood. After sanding and oiling the colour in the wood really started to show. I made a little finger / thumb holder in the side for no real reason other than I liked the way it looked.
This spoon is made from a bit of oak I found in my living room a few months ago. How it got there I do not know, but it did and now it is a spoon. I used my foldable saw to help with the roughing out of the spoon rather than doing it all with the axe for a change. Mainly because I didn’t have a chopping block to use.
It is ridiculously thin, the handle is bendy and it should probably be called the one use spoon as it will probably snap the first time someone uses it. It wasn’t too bad to carve even though there were some small tricky sections. I should have hollowed out the scoops at the start of the whittling process as it was bloody tricky with such a thin handle. 3 to go and only 2 days to make them!
I found this bit of spalted wood in an abandoned sauna in Finland. I thought it was a dense bit of spruce or pine, but now don’t have a clue what it is. It worked more like Silver Birch and the colouration in the wood looks similar to some birch I have used before.
I wanted to try something different on this one, and used some spoon inspiration from instagram and followed a more traditional design. I haven’t sanded or oiled this spoon for a change. Although after taking the pictures I oiled it to protect the wood, and I might sand it in the future, but we will see.
This is the second spoon I made from Blackthorn the other night. I had a rough sketch, but mainly went with the flow of the wood with this one. I’ve called it the whale spoon because it reminds me of a whale for some reason. You can really see the blacks, purples and reds in this particular section of the blackthorn. The white section of the spoon is from the outermost part of the trunk, and much softer to work than the coloured parts of the spoon.
This wood has only been drying for a month of two outside so hopefully it wont crack as it starts to dry out even more. Oh, and this time I tried oiling with lemon oil. My guitar-mad flat mate had a little bit left over which he gave to me, it smells incredible and brought out the grain amazingly well.
This spoon is made from Blackthorn, or Sloe as it is more commonly known. My original plan was to make a massive scoop, but this failed on every front, cracking the whole way through and becoming completely unworkable. This spoon was made from the ‘offcuts’ I had split to make the scoop.
I made this spoon and another in one evening whilst half-heartedly watching films with my flatmates (it is almost impossible to focus on anything else when whittling). It was late in the week and I promised my girlfriend I would make a spoon for her Dad’s birthday, which was the following day. I actually managed to make two spoons which is fast for me, and my hands felt completely beaten afterwards.
The wood is simply incredible and the grain is laden with streaks of black, purple and red. As I was using ‘young’ wood from the outer section of the trunk it was relatively soft. It carved and finished much like oak, and a nice sheen was possible. I oiled it with sun flower oil for a change which worked just as well as linseed oil as far as I could tell. I cant wait to carve some more in this stuff. Again being small doesn’t seem to help speed, and actually makes the whittling process quite tricky.
I have been meaning to try this for a while – The one hour spoon. I’m not being completely honest with you though, I actually took 1 hour 3 minutes and 50 seconds to make this spoon. Over the last 11 months my whittling has improved a lot, but the speed at which I make these spoons is still slow. I knew a spoon in an hour would be tough for me, it would be especially hard not to get caught up in the small details, trying to get them right. It wasn’t easy, and in between frantic axe work and hasty whittling I am surprised I didn’t stab myself. It also made me realised I need to get another hook knife or two, this would have been a much quicker and precise way to carve the scoop, rather than using a small chisel.
The ocd side of me sees it as unfinished, and the more relaxed side of me sees it as characterful. In ways it is not finished well, it isn’t sanded, the workmanship on the spoon head is poor, it’s rough around the edges, has a faceted underside to the spoon head, is wonky and miss-cut in many places and a dangerously thin neck – all elements that would probably be missing if I had made it more slowly.
I made it from the same batch of yew that my Granddad gave to me a few months ago – an amazing wood to work with. If the knife is sharp enough a smooth waxy finish is created without the need for further treatment.