Carving a small spoon

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Blog entry by filiplaw posted 04-16-2014 04:10 PM 1750 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a small piece of pine laying around and a free afternoon so I decided to carve another spoon. I wanted it to be small (somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) and simple in shape.

I traced around some plastic spoon I had in my kitchen and altered the handle shape a bit. With the outline ready I went to work.

I made some stop-cuts with a saw and bashed out the waste with a 20mm chisel. I also did the same to the underside since the stock was way too thick for a spoon.
I find this a very quick and reliable way of getting a spoon to rough shape. You only have to be careful not to make the stop-cuts too deep. I accidentally made one right on the outline
and the mark was difficult to rid of. It is unfortunately still visible on the finished spoon.
Alternatively, if I had a coping saw I would probably try and get close to the outline with it.

Next, I started working the very rough shape with a knife. Only to get a moderately rough shape. Really, the knife work was much harder than I anticipated. I figured since pine is such a soft wood it will be easy and enjoyable to cut with a sharp knife.

Boy, was I wrong.

First, it would split really easily. Maybe that’s because it was very dry. Often I tried to make even a small cut and it would result in a long split. Also, the dried resin was stone hard in some places. I was actually worried not to chip my blade.
After struggling with the knife for a bit I decided I’d rather do a lot more sanding than risk ruining the whole thing with a bad split.

Then I moved on to carving the bowl of the spoon. I worked slowly, starting across the grain, with my hook knife. The front part of the bowl had a very resinous spot. I didn’t expect that, but the cuts were silky smooth there. If only the whole bowl was like that I wouldn’t even have to sand it! Unfortunately there were some soft spots on the back of the bowl and I was not able to carve that part without leaving any tool marks.

I started the sanding with 120 grit. Because the shape was so rough I thought I’d start with a very coarse grit, like 80, but the pine was easy and fast to sand with 120. I then moved on to 220 and 400 grit.
I had to leave some tool marks because I didn’t want to make the spoon too thin in some places.

Overall, I think it came out good. Now that I look at it, I don’t even mind the tool marks that much.

Because to wood was so dry I wanted to give it a lot of oil. I put the spoon in a plastic bag and poured a generous amount of linseed oil inside. I rubbed it into the wood for a while and than wrapped
the bag tight and left it to soak for a couple hours. Linseed oil pops the grain nicely and gives the wood a warm yellow tint.

After taking it out of the bag and wiping the excess oil I rubbed the spoon with beeswax. I used a hair dryer to warm it up and let the wax soak in a bit. It will probably wear off after the first wash with warm water,
but the spoon is sealed and protected until I start using it.

The finished spoon.

You can see some more images on the project page.

3 comments so far

View vetwoodworker's profile


104 posts in 3038 days

#1 posted 04-16-2014 04:33 PM

Great write-up! Thanks for sharing!

View Benboy's profile


105 posts in 3593 days

#2 posted 04-21-2014 02:00 PM

Yes. Thanks for sharing. I am going to try something very similar and it helps to see how you did it. I love the finished piece.

-- If I can't make it, I probably don't need it.

View filiplaw's profile


6 posts in 2835 days

#3 posted 04-21-2014 02:40 PM

Thank you! I’m glad if it helps.

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