HOW TO CARVE A WOODEN SPOON

A step-by-step tutorial.

STEP 1 : SET UP

Lightly draw a line down the center of your spoon blank, being mindful to follow the grainline.   This line will help you match up your design with the grainline of the wood, making it easier to carve your spoon and allowing you to visualize the middle of your spoon so you can carve your design symmetrically (if your design requires that). 

STEP 2 : TRANSFER DESIGN

TOP: Draw a freehand design or use a design template to trace a top-down profile of your spoon. 

SIDE: Next, freehand or trace the side profile of your spoon design.  Make sure to line up the tip of the spoon bowl with the side profile tip of the spoon, and the same for the handle.   

TOP: Next draw the inside shape of the spoon bowl.

STEP 3 : DISHING OUT THE BOWL 

With a freshly sharpened gouge, begin by making cuts "across the grain"  (along one side of the centerline), stopping your cut when you reach the line. Rotate the blank and do the same cross-grain cuts from the opposite side of the centerline. 

As wood begins to build up and overlap, rotate the blank and make some cuts "with the grain" to remove the excess material and to smooth out the bottom of the bowl.

Once you reach the desired shape and depth of the bowl, gently use the gouge to take down any high points or rough spots of texture in the bowl.  The smoother you can make it now, the less sanding you will need to do later.  

HOW TO USE A SPOON GOUGE
TUTORIAL VIDEO

STEP 4 : SHAPE THE HANDLE

Before you begin carving, a trick to making sure you carve with the grain is to pencil in cut direction arrows around your design. 

With your carving knife, you will now begin to shape the handle. As you carve, you will find that you are constantly rotating the spoon to adjust your grip and carving direction and technique to make sure you are carving "with the grain". 

Important: If your knife digs into the wood abruptly, chances are you are working against the grain.  Stop before you accidentally tear out wood.  To find the grain again, remove your knife, rotate your spoon and try your cut from the other direction.


HOW TO USE YOUR CARVING KNIFE | 4 BASIC CUTS
TUTORIAL VIDEO

STEP 5 : SHAPE THE OUTSIDE OF THE BOWL

Pencil in your carve direction arrows.  Using your carving knife, begin removing the bulk of wood around the outside of the bowl of the spoon.  As you carve,  gauge the thickness of the bowl by pinching it between your fingers, aiming for roughly 3/16″.  Every design is unique, so your design might call for more. Be careful and avoid going less than 1/8" as the wood may become too fragile and you could carve a hole through the bowl. 

STEP 6 : FINE TUNE

Once the main shape has been carved,  look at your spoon from a variety of angles — from the top/down, from the sides, and down the length — to ensure that you have symmetry (if that is what your design requires!).

Next, check to see that you have not left any large, bumps, rough spots or divots in the wood.  Using your tools now to work those areas smooth will significantly reduce the amount of time required to sand them out later. 

STEP 7 : SANDING

Your spoon carving kit includes 3 different grits of sandpaper. 150 grit (coarse),  220 grit (fine) & 320 grit (finest)

SANDING PROCESS

  • 150 Grit. Begin by using the coarsest grit to sand down the largest imperfections along the entire surface of the wood.
  • 220 Grit. With the 220 grit sand paper, sand the entire piece to attain a beautifully consistent texture and finish. For the majority of carving projects, using the 220 grit is the final sanding step, so go ahead and add your protective oil/beeswax compound.  
  • OPTIONAL STEP
    If your spoon is for decoration only and you WON'T be applying a protective oil/beeswax compound to your finished piece, then sanding with a 320 grit sandpaper will create a natural glasslike surface.

    BEWARE! Be sure you don't ever want to add a protective coating to your spoon before you use the 320 grit sandpaper.  It will finish the wood  to a very fine glasslike surface, making it VERY resistant to accepting a protective oil/beeswax coating (it will look blotchy if applied). 

SANDING NOTES

Sand in the direction with the grain.  This ensures that sanding marks won't cut across the wood grain, leaving obvious scratch lines. 

Be mindful to not press the sandpaper down too hard. The goal is to let the sandpaper do the work, not you.

Only sand as much as needed. Once you have achieved the desired surface finish, STOP! Over-sanding will burnish the wood resulting in blotchy oil absorption later.

STEP 8 : APPLYING A PROTECTIVE OIL/BEESWAX COATING

If your wooden spoon is to be used with food and washed on a regular basis, it's a good idea to protect the wood from drying out with a coating of oil or beeswax. 

  • Working with the grain, use a rag to apply a thick coat of the oil/beeswax compound to your spoon.
  • Set your spoon aside and let the the coating soak in for several hours.
  • With your rag, wipe off any of the excess coating. The wood may be very thirsty the first time you oil it. If your spoon has absorbed all of the oil then give it a second coat. Do a third coat if necessary. The more oil absorbed by the wood fibers, the more durable your spoon will become.

STEP 9 : WASH & CARE 

  • Wash with a mild dish detergent and warm water.  Wooden utensils are not dishwasher safe as the high heat will dry the wood out, ageing the wood faster and increasing the risk of splitting or cracking. 
  • Once washed, towel dry the spoon thoroughly, then let it sit out to airdry before putting it away. 
  • If your spoon picks up food stains, apply a teaspoon of baking soda and enough lemon juice to cover the stained area.   Use a cloth to scrub the stain out.  
  • Soak wooden spoons in vinegar to remove food odors. Place the spoon in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar and let it soak for up to a half hour. Rinse thoroughly with hot water and towel dry immediately. 
  • Lightly sand and oil your wooden spoons when they start to look dry.