Spoon Making: It’s Addictive

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Blog entry by woodpezzer posted 10-07-2012 09:42 PM 6547 reads 10 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A while back my mother-in-law mentioned needing a few wooden spoons. She prefers wood utensils when making goodies like chicken & dumplings. The reason being, wooden spoons won’t tear the dumpling as much as metal or hard plastic. I made a couple spoons in early summer and didn’t care much for it but I decided to give it another try.. just for her cause she’s awesome. We had a family reunion coming up and she always makes a huge batch of dumplings so I knew she would want something with a long handle.

Here’s my novice adventure in spoon making and a few tips I learned along the way..

My in-laws needed a small tree removed from their yard so my husband got busy with the chainsaw and felled a 12 inch diameter Box Elder. There was a bit of red flaming near the truck so he took a section around 22 inches long and split it up using a hydraulic log splitter.

Step 1: Grab a piece of wood! I ran one chunk through the band-saw at, roughly, ¾ inch thick.

Steps 2-4: Draw the shape of a spoon on the wood. For this piece, I tried to include as much of the color as possible. Rough it out using the band-saw then clean it up a bit on the disc sander.

Step 5: I work on carving the bowl first in case I blow out the side and ruin the piece. Mark the inside bowl along the top about 1/8 to 3/32 from the edge.

Step 6: Using the drill press and a ¼ bit, I hollowed out a little bit of the mid-section of the bowl. This helps to set the depth of the bowl.

Step 7-7.5: Now the real fun begins. After a lot of cursing and frustration from previous spoon making attempts, I discovered a little gem of a tool perfect for the job: The sphere head carbide bits by Saburr. These burrs are AWESOME!

I found a small rubber tip in a junk drawer, inserted a 3/8 X 2 1/4 dowel, taped a piece of 120 grit sandpaper to it and chucked it in the drill. This is the poor man’s version of a curved sanding disc and it works great for the insides of spoons!

Step 8: After shaping the interior bowl, it’s time to shape the handle and outer bowl. The skinny handles on store bought spoons are hard to grip firmly, even with my small hands, so I left plenty of meat on the handle. First, I worked the four edges of the handle across a 1” belt sander, basically, knocking them down to create an octagon stick. The small machine is a surprisingly aggressive sander. Then, I moved to the 6” belt sander using course grit. You can see a big chunk of wood missing from the bottom of the spoon’s bowl. Rounding the outer bowl area would eliminate that so it wasn’t an issue.

Step 9: Once I was satisfied the spoon was reasonably shaped, the rest of the work was done with good old fashioned hand sanding. Fill the tiny bug holes with epoxy and sand with 100-220-320 grit.

Step 10: I applied mineral oil, lightly sanding with 400 grit and finishing with a second application of oil. The spoon is 20L with a 2w X 2 5/8h X 1/2d bowl. Perfect for a giant batch of chicken and dumplings—which we had yesterday at the annual family reunion!

Check out the spoon at work along with several other spoons in My Projects:

Now, every time I go to the shop to make a box I end up making spoons instead. LOL. It’s as addictive as box-making.

Thanks for reading my first LJ blog!—Theresa

12 comments so far

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2585 days

#1 posted 10-07-2012 09:47 PM

Oh Theresa, it looks fabulous. I am loving the spoon making and looking for downed trees as I drive around. Your mom is going to love this! You picked some great wood – and added some useful hints for the rest of us :)

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View woodpezzer's profile


124 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 10-07-2012 10:02 PM

Hi Kay! Thank you for the kind words and support! Sadly, my mom passed away many years ago. The spoon is for my mother-in-law. :)

I was going to send you a note to see if you might be interested in checking this out even though you prefer woodworking without the power tools. I truly admire your work! Thanks again! :)

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2585 days

#3 posted 10-07-2012 10:09 PM

I am sorry about your mom – I am motherless also for almost 10 years now. I wish she could appreciate some of the things I am doing now – I know she would be pleased.

I have been reading Joe’s spoon building blog (jjw5858) and being inspired. Yours is nudging me a bit more! I really want to try a spoon :) but it probably will be by hand. Or “rustic” as I like to think.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View woodpezzer's profile


124 posts in 2565 days

#4 posted 10-07-2012 10:27 PM

Oh dear.. sorry to hear you lost your mom too. I’m sure they are watching over us and are very proud. Always in our hearts and thoughts..

I will check out Joe’s blog, thanks for the link! Rustic takes patience and energy and skill. I’m a bit lacking in the first two for sure. Let me know when you’ve carved your first spoon. It will be awesome.. no doubt!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

22527 posts in 3467 days

#5 posted 10-08-2012 12:42 AM

Hi Woodpezzer, don’t you just love the natural flame in the box elder??
I am in the beginning of making a dozen spoons. I had planned on cherry for all of them, but I do have some box elder- red and all- and I will use a piece of it for one after seeing your post. It is nice hear of that Saburr tool for roughing. I’ll have to look it up.
I plan on using a die grinder with a 3/4” ball cutter for the roughing. I used it on a pair of salad tools last year and it made easy work of getting the rough shape. I have been putting off these spoons for all year but I have to have them for a show in Nov. so I start tomorrow. I’ll show you them when I get them done….....Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2900 days

#6 posted 10-08-2012 02:30 AM

That is a beautiful spoon. Well done.

-- I never finish anyth

View woodpezzer's profile


124 posts in 2565 days

#7 posted 10-08-2012 04:19 AM

Philip, Thank you so much! I give all the credit for the beauty to the wood! :)

Hi Jim, after seeing your stunningly beautiful bowls, I was eager to find some flamed Box Elder. I thought of you when I saw that red color. Yes.. I love it!

I love walnut but the cherry seemed to work nicer. Perhaps it was the piece of walnut I was using as it was partial sapwood. The spoons I’ve made so far have pretty shallow bowls, 1/4 to 1/2 inch. A ¾ ball would be great.. especially for making a ladle! Would you suggest a die grinder for that size cutter? I just have a standard Dremel right now but I would consider picking up a more powerful carving tool.

I can’t wait to see your spoons.. it’s always a pleasure to see your art! Thanks!

View NormG's profile


6435 posts in 3365 days

#8 posted 10-08-2012 10:43 PM

Thanks, looks great, thanks for the pictures, never made a spoon, but you make it look simple enough that even I might try a spoon or two

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View woodpezzer's profile


124 posts in 2565 days

#9 posted 10-09-2012 12:19 AM

Hi NormG, For me, the interior bowl is the most difficult part but the homemade mini-sander was a huge help getting a smooth curve. I even used a rubber plug for coin banks to make one a little bigger! A 5/8 dowel fit snuggly into the plug so I glued a 1/4 dowel into that to chuck it in the drill. I cut sandpaper from the hook and loop style discs. The cloth backing holds up pretty good and you can get several pieces out of one disc. I hope you give spoon-making a try.. it really is rewarding and fun. Thanks so much for checking out my blog!

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 2963 days

#10 posted 10-10-2012 02:10 AM

Great blog, and really fine looking work on these.

Keep enjoying it!


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View woodpezzer's profile


124 posts in 2565 days

#11 posted 10-10-2012 05:27 PM

Hi Joe! There were quite a few surprises on this spoon-making journey and I’m thrilled a few people are inspired by my novice-blog to give it a try. Thanks so much for stopping by!

View ctwistedpair's profile


1 post in 1371 days

#12 posted 12-02-2015 06:46 AM

Nice work! I have been using #3 gouges to do the scoop part because my spoons have deep bowls. Im trying to figure out how to make a spoon bit for the drill press. Maybe a piece of shaped 1/4 inch steel on a shank.

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