Stages of carving a spoon: photo tutorial

Stages of Carving a Spoon

The stages start with a split branch of green wood. I start off with a sharp hatchet, but here are some finished spoons to give an idea of where we’re headed:

three spoons

first, some finished spoons: (l to r) one of mine, a traditional (eastern European?) spoon, which might be boxwood, and a Bill Coperthwaite spoon.

spoon stages14

finished spoons, other side; click on the photo to see more about the geometry and design of the lovely center spoon.

spoon stages1

6 stages of roughing out a spoon (from R. to L! My brain was in another country). Hatching (in red/black) shows the wood to be removed. Simple, quick strokes of the hatchet, always working in facets at 90° to each other. Squareness allows you to see the proportions immediately.

spoon stages2

1st cut: bevel the back of the bowl

spoon stages3

rough out the bowl (in general, the bowl should be 1/3 of the total length of the spoon)

spoon stages4

shape the handle; keep the edges clean!

spoon stages5

when shaping the handle, you can usually get most of the waste wood off with one or two splitting blows from the end going down to the bowl

spoon stages6

taking out the small wedge between bowl and handle establishes the all-important angle that keeps the soup in the spoon on its way to your mouth!

spoon stages7

after you take out the small wedge, you shape the handle accordingly. The tricky bit is cutting the face of the bowl: it takes a cross-grain slice, with the spoon laying sideways on the block. Stay tuned for a video or time-lapse…

spoon stages8

you could eat with it!

spoon stages9

but it will be more beautiful if you finish shaping: this is the first time you’ll cut at less than a 90° angle, but keep the cuts roughly symmetrical

spoon stages10

shaping the roundness of the bowl is where you start needing more control than a hatchet provides; use a knife

spoon stages11

facets show the volumetric proportions. It’s important to keep the edge of the bowl a consistent thickness. If you don’t, you may have to adjust the shape of the bowl to accommodate thinner or thicker spots at the edges.

spoon stages12

Only now do you need a crooked knife or gouge to hollow out the bowl

spoon stages13

You can get to this stage in short order; finishing can be long and slow, or quick and dirty. I like a blade finish, and it’s a good challenge to see how well you can round things with just a blade; on some woods you can use a scraper, too.


About Kiko Denzer

I live in western Oregon with my family and run Hand Print Press with help from friends Max and Eva. We are interested in restoring the arts of living to their rightful, traditional, public role, as cultural medium – and think the web is a poor substitute, but until we can fashion something better, we try to make the most of it.

4 Responses to Stages of carving a spoon: photo tutorial

  1. Hanna says:

    Can you post pictures of the tools. I had no idea I’d ever want to carve a spoon but I want to try.

  2. Roberto Barcia says:

    Te felicito es hermoso lo que haces voy a intentar hacer algunas cucharas ,te agradezco tus enseñanzas un abrazo grane desde Argentina

  3. Richard Hufaker says:

    Very cool. Thanks!

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