Friday, April 12, 2013

The Joy of Carving Wooden Spoons.

I love carving wooden spoons. And I'm not even Welsh.

Over the last few years, Spoon Carving would be one of the most popular of the public workshops that I run. It is a wonderfully tactile process and a lot of fun.

In the Northern Hemisphere, wooden spoons are predominantly made from green wood. We don't have such a menu of suitable timbers here in Australia. So we do some things differently. 

I use mostly hardwoods for wooden spoons. This requires different tools to the green wood spoon makers. Hardwood spoons are incredibly durable as kitchen utensils. As decorative items they are great to carve, take a finish well, and are pretty tough.

A sample of spoons ... such fun to design and make!
The sample of spoons pictured above are as follows, from the top down:
  • The first spoon I made, 1990. WA Blackbutt. Rather mechanical in nature.
  • Sugar spoon, WA Blackbutt. 
  • Kauri Pine spoon, recycled from old fireplace surround. (See below...!)
  • Cooking spoon, Native Cypress.
  • Cooking spoon, Jarrah.
  • Decorative spoon, Sheoak.
Story of a spoon. Life after a fireplace surround...
An old fireplace surround, over 100 years old, came my way. It had 3 of the original 4 split turnings nailed to the face for decoration. The whole thing was made from Kauri Pine, so I pulled it a apart for the timber. What to do with the half spindles?... I cut one in half and carved one into a spoon. Both of those pieces are pictured above - a kind of "before and after" thing.
The 4 old layers of paint are visible on the back of the spoon. This is a decorative, not a functional spoon. It would be a shame to lose the paint from it, as this tells a story. Love this spoon.

Another look at my first spoon - side profile.
It has two design faults: a LH thread and short grain on the cranked shaft.
Well... ya gotta start somewhere!
 Spoons are such fun to design and make. There'll be a Spoon making workshop in the next round of public workshops I'm running in June 20-23, to be held at Earthwise in Subiaco.

We will use traditional hand tools only - no noisy power tools. Just traditional tools like a mallet and gouge, coping saw and compass saw, curved scraper, spokeshave, etc. When you make a spoon in this way, it's a bit like you need to establish a relationship with your piece of wood. It is one of the best ways to understand the importance of working with the grain direction and characteristics.

Don't miss it... no previous woodworking experience required.

5 comments:

  1. Very interesting of your wood spoon. What kind of wood suitable for spoon regarding with health effect? So interesting. http://coolwoodworkingprojects.4useful.com/

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  2. Quote: "We don't have such a menu of suitable timbers here in Australia".
    Question 1: Is that because we have few straight grained timber species?
    Question 2: Do you use green hardwood?

    Really enjoying reading your blog, thanks for sharing : )

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  3. Hi Greg

    Great site, you say we need to use different tools for woods here in Australia, can you elaborate on those tools. ie. if they are different than those used by barnthespoon in nth hem as you suggest.

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    1. Good question. I wrote this post in 2013, before I had gone on my Green Woodworking Oddessy to the USA. While I had been making spoons and teaching spoon making in WA for over 20 years, it had always been with seasoned Hardwoods, predominantly from WA. Spoon making with our seasoned hardwoods involves the use of gouge and mallet, followed by curved scrapers to form the bowl of the spoon. The back of the bowl and the handle are cut out with saws and shaped with spokeshave and rasp. The material is just too hard for knife work.
      However, when I went to a few green wood spoon making workshops in the USA, I learned a few extra skills which I had not previously had the opportunity to develop. This involved knife work almost exclusively- which I have since applied to gnarly eucalypts (green)but it is hard work!
      Yes, the menu of woods available in the Northern Hemisphere are very different and does include a lot of spoon friendly timbers which are hardWOODS rather than HARDwoods!
      I am now doing and teaching Green Wood Spoon Carving here in Perth in addition to teaching Seasoned Wood Spoon Making. Different workshops, different timbers, predoninantly different tools.

      When carving spoons from green wood, we are using froes and beetles, carving hatchets, hook knives and sloyd knives, just like Barn the Spoon in the UK, Peter Follansbee in the USA, and the thousands of enthusiastic spoon carvers in the Northern Hemisphere. Many of the timbers we are using are derrived from suburban parks and gardens and our own backyards. Its a delightful array of timbers originally from all over the world. The fun part is finding out which are the most spoon friendly woods!

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    2. Thanks, as I was about to reconsider my order for a Mora spoon kit from the UK, thinking it would be another bit of kit left on the shelf. My source of green wood is mostly from storms and Sydney city parks (although their abortionists are must more carefully on collecting all the off cuts) . I think spoon carving for the spoons themselves is not that useful IMO but the amount to be understood on the journey is immense, and the main reason why I am taking them on, would love to see a spoonfest in Aus !

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