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Project by Andy posted 05-19-2009 07:02 AM 4620 views 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The top and bottom spoons are Myrtlewood from Oregon, and the center one is Mahogany. Each took about 1.5 hours.The handle of the top spoon is a twist, but didnt photograph very well.
I noticed the recent contest posted by Osageman and was impressed with both his skill and his big heart.
Be sure and take a look at his page and make a guess on that wood.
I couldnt identify that wood, but it got my attention.
It got me interested in making a few spoons this last weekend and I wanted to share my approach. I dont wish to draw attention away from what Osageman is doing on his blog, but rather, I hope this info encourages others to give spoon making a try. If you have never carved anything before then a spoon is a great beginner project, its functional, very straightforward, and is pretty quickly done.
I will start by saying that I have made several styles of spoons and other treenware over the years and many are still in use today.
If I just want a spoon to give as a gift to someone that will really use it as a utensil, then I dont spend a lot of time on design, carving, super fine sanding, etc. I find that people will often display a gifted spoon on the wall if it is too nice.Thats flattering, but I would rather they use it.
So…keep that in mind when starting on your spoon, art or utility.

If this is your first spoon,then you may want to start with a soft wood, such as Poplar, Alder, Cyprus…etc.
Soft woods will fuzz,but with a little care they can be used for years. My Alder spoon is over 10 years old and I use it several times a week (I do a fair amount of cooking too)
Starting off with a chunk of Eastern Maple or Bloodwood may discourage you,so be kind to yourself, and get a spoon or two under your belt first.

Find a spoon you like and trace it on paper, top and side profile. If its for your use then pay attention to grip. Place the edge of the spoon on the flat of one palm and drag it back and forth, the handle shouldnt turn easily or you will have to squeeze very hard in order to use it.
The depth of the bowl depends on if you intend to ladle food with it or simply stir.I tend to make shallow bowls, more for stirring, soups, beans, making bread batter, etc..
Most of the final design will evolve as you do your final shaping.It should feel balanced and smooth.
A spoon is a tool (unless its for Art) so it should feel functional but graceful.

I have tried all sorts of ways to make spoons, and I still enjoy just using handtools, the peace and quiet of it all.
But here is my latest approach.
I mark my design onto a blank with a whiteout marker as shown in photo two. It is easy to see at any angle and with dust on glasses :)
I then rough out the blank a little over sized on the bandsaw. Then, making sure the back is flat, smooth, and clean, I glue it directly to a corner of my bench using super glue. I put about 4-6 drops scattered on the backside of the blank and press it onto the counter and hold for a bit. I use the accelerator and spray it directly onto the counter and when I press the blank down, it grabs instantly…no waiting.This is effectively the clamp to hold the blank while I carve out the bowl. It works great.
When you are done,just a gentle rap or two on the side of the blank knocks it free. Seldom does it pull any wood loose.If it does,the final shaping will remove the damage.
I use a straight 1/2’’ chisel to start my rough bowl shape. There are gouges that would work better, but this works ok for me. After removing to a depth of about 3/8’’ I switch to my Scorp, which is used on the pull stroke. Carefully go from side to side and switch end for end with shallow strokes.Then I use a Dremel with a flap sander to smooth it to a fair surface, checking often.Then hand sand with 100 and progress to 220.
I use an inflated drum sander to shape the backside of the bowl and handle.You can gauge the bowl for even thickness by pinching it between your thumb and forefinger, like a caliper.Its very accurate and fast.

The final work is hand sanding to the desired finish you are after ,then coat with mineral oil, or whatever type finish you prefer.

Thanks for listening.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

13 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#1 posted 05-19-2009 07:07 AM

Wow that’s a lot of work and good info, the spoons look good.


View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4836 days

#2 posted 05-19-2009 07:10 AM

Wow Andy, what a deal…......... we get to enjoy your beautiful spoons and get a mini – tutorial as well!!!

Great job and thanks so much for the “lesson”. I have always wondered what the process was… I know.

I need to try a couple of these …...........

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View snowdog's profile


1183 posts in 5323 days

#3 posted 05-19-2009 01:28 PM

Yeah, that was inspiring, great write up. I am working on my first cane now but I have spoons on the mind.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View mtnwild's profile


4765 posts in 4867 days

#4 posted 05-19-2009 04:00 PM

Great post! Love your clamp idea.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 4882 days

#5 posted 05-19-2009 05:16 PM

Very Cool! thanks for all the info too!

-- Childress Woodworks

View Bureaucrat's profile


18341 posts in 4992 days

#6 posted 05-19-2009 07:15 PM

Very informative post. I have a chunk of Elm laying around that I may see whether there’s a spoon waiting to come out.

-- Gary D.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5323 days

#7 posted 05-19-2009 11:39 PM

super posting and great looking spoons

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Spoontaneous's profile


1340 posts in 4670 days

#8 posted 05-20-2009 12:22 AM

Your spoons have a lot of character and I learned a couple of tips (shortcuts) from your process. I made a spoon a couple of weeks ago and I am going to do a tutorial (or Blog) on how NOT to make a spoon. It was a bit disastrous. Was this wood green or cured?

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Andy's profile


1725 posts in 5248 days

#9 posted 05-20-2009 01:27 AM

Thank you all,I am glad to be of help.Spoons are agreat way to sratch the woodworking itch quickly and use very little wood.I gave the two Myrtle wood ones shown above to my co-workers.They were pleased.

@Spoontaneous-No,the wood was seasoned,but green works well too.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6879 posts in 5320 days

#10 posted 05-20-2009 03:40 PM

Hi Andy;

Great looking spoons, and up to the excellent standards of workmanship you have displayed.

Great project.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Jayjaylove's profile


25 posts in 4958 days

#11 posted 05-20-2009 09:28 PM

Love them, going to do it!!!! Thank-you!

-- crafty ladies love wood too!

View Andy's profile


1725 posts in 5248 days

#12 posted 05-21-2009 12:54 AM

@ Lee-Thank you, I appreciate your constant support.
@Jess-Your welcome. I hope you do and please post the for all to see.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View jgrim's profile


13 posts in 4817 days

#13 posted 06-09-2009 03:52 AM

Good quality workmanship. I started carving about three years ago doing love spoons. Over time, skill has improved. I generally use basswood, and don’t achieve the finish you attain. Keep making chips! You’re good!

-- Jim, Seattle, where every day is paradise (unless it rains)

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