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
1. Draw a freehand design or use a design template to trace a top-down profile of your spoon.
2. Next, freehand or trace the side profile of your spoon design. Make sure to line up the top and side tip of the spoon , and do the same for the handle end.
3. Next draw the inside shape of the spoon bowl.
STEP 3 : DISHING OUT THE BOWL
1. With a freshly sharpened gouge, begin by making cuts "across the grain" (along one side of the centerline).
2. Rotate the blank and do the same cross-grain cuts along the opposite side of the centerline.
3. As wood begins to build up and overlap, you can start to make cuts "with the grain" to remove the excess material and to smooth out the bottom of the bowl.
4. 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.
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. Remember: You want to always carve in a downward direction through the grain. Always start your carve high and end low to carve "with the grain".
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 carving "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.
STEP 5 : SHAPING THE OUTSIDE OF THE BOWL
Pencil in your carve direction arrows around the bowl of the spoon.
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!).
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 2 different grits of sandpaper. 150 grit (coarse) & 220 grit (fine).
- 150 Grit. Beginning with the coarsest sandpaper in your kit, you will use this to sand down entire spoon to smooth out any imperfections. You are aiming to achieve a smooth surface free of any divots, craters or bumps.
- 220 Grit. This is the finer grit sand paper in your kit and you will use this one to sand the entire piece down to attain a more refined and beautiful texture and finish. This finer grit sandpaper will remove any sanding scratches you may have left with the coarser grit paper and will prepare the spoon with a better surface for applying the protective oil coating.
- Once sanding is complete, use a clean lint free rag or a finely bristled brush (toothbrushes work great!) and remove all sanding dust from the spoon.
Always wash your hands before you start sanding your project.
The oils/dirt from your skin will stain areas of your spoon causing a blotchy/dirty look to your finished piece.
Sand "with the grain".
This ensures that sanding marks won't cut across the wood grain, leaving annoying scratch lines.
Let the sandpaper do the work, not you.
Pressing too hard while sanding may leave scratches and will tire your muscles out very quickly. Steady pressure is the most efficient and effective.
Only sand as much as needed.
Once you have achieved the desired surface finish, STOP SANDING!
Over-sanding will burnish (polish) the wood resulting in blotchy absorption of your finishing oil.
STEP 8 : 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 compound.
- Using a clean lint-free rag, apply a thick coat of the oil/beeswax compound to your spoon. Work it into the wood in the direction of the grain.
- Set your spoon aside and let the the coating soak in for several hours.
- Once the oil has soaked in, take 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 your spoon with a mild dish detergent and warm water. Wooden utensils are not dishwasher safe! 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, or every 1-3 months.