How to carve a wooden spoon?

In this article we will go through the main steps of carving a spoon, for each step you will find a link to a more detailed article.

There are many ways to carve a wooden spoon, the method this Blog is focused on is greenwood carving using only hand tools.

SEE: Types of wood for Spoon Carving

To carve a spoon we start with a branch or a section of a log that has been recently cut-off or sealed and properly stored so that it hasn’t lost its humidity.

Before cutting the pieces we need to figure out what is the directions of the grain (fibers) of the wood to forsee the shape it will allow us to make. This subject is better explained in the next article: Understanding the grain and wood movement

The natural curvature of the branches can be used for the organic design of the spoon. That way, if the spoon design we want has a crank or curvature, it is not forced on a straigt grain structure which causes weak points of short grain. This subject is explained in detail in the article: The design and the grain

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“Anything worth having is worth working for”. I was driving Kat and her mum Muriel the other day for a day out. I said to Murial, “so do you think you’ll buy yourself a coffee machine now you’ve tried mine?” Kat quickly butted in, “probably not its way too much effort”. Without hesitation I replied, “yes babe, but anything worth having is worth working for”. I paused for a few seconds and really thought about what I had just said. I’d never heard those words in that order before, but it came out so naturally. Doing a google search, it turns out that this is already a quote (who would have guessed it…! )Anyway, it resonated so much with me that I asked her to write it down on her phone and send it to me so I didn’t forget it. So now I’m passing it on to you. Really think about this next time you are doing something that you feel like giving up on. Maybe it’s a design that you just can’t get right, maybe it’s freehand sharpening of your tools, maybe it’s using the Tormek with a jig. The list is endless, but very much personal to us. Reassure yourself that you’ll get it eventually, the reward will be so sweet due to the dedication it took and remind yourself, that anything worth having is worth working for, even if it’s just a simple coffee made well. #woodenspoon #spooncarving #woodcraft #greenwoodcarving #greenwoodwork #slojd #woodcarving #carvingknife #carvingaxe #handtools #facets #spooncarvingwithtom

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Once we have prepared a piece of wood we can draw the design on the surface as a guide.

For inspiration on designing a spoon we can search some Google Images of “Wooden Spoon Design”

In this next article we can find diferent designs from the best carvers in the world according to Robin Wood:

For more information on designing your own spoon read the article: Designing a wooden spoon

Before beginning to carve we must always remember the MOST IMPORTANT aspect in Spoon Carving: The direction of the grain. Only by understanding the direction of the grain we will learn to used the tools in a correct way. You can read more about this important subject in Following the grain: The direction of the cut

Once we have our design and the correct sized piece of wood, we can start by removing most of the wood using the Axe.


What if we don’t own or don’t want to use an axe? If we have a branch or a section of a log, how can we cut if to a general shape before moving to the carving knives?

As an alternative to the axe we can use electric powertools like a Jigsaw or a small Band Saw If we don’t have access to power tools we can go to a local wood workshop and they can make the cuts for us.
BUT! don’t forget about the grain direction on that piece of wood. When we mechanize wood with power tools the cuts don’t necesarilly follow the grain, as opposed to using the axe that is guided by the fibers naturally, making sure we have a piece of wood with the grain in the right direction to start carving.

SEE: Spoon Carving Tools – The axe

Depending on our skill with the axe we can come closer to the general outline of our spoon, this way the carving time is reduced because everything that we don’t remove with the Axe will have to be removed with the knives that are not as efficient.

Once we have removed as much wood as we can with the Axe we can start using the carving knives.

The basic carving knives are a Straight Knife and a Hook Knife for the bowl.

SEE: Spoon Carving Tools – The Straight Knife

SEE: Spoon Carving Tools – The Hook Knife

In the next video we can see one of the best carvers: Barnaby Alexander Carder, known as Barn The Spoon carve a spoon in less than an hour.

Barn has plenty of experience carving spoons and perfectly masters the techniques so for your own safety don’t try to imitate him.

We must realize that the tools we are using can be very dangerous and make sure to use restricted and controlled movements when carving and also never carve in the direction of our own limbs if we are cutting in free motion. We cannot rely on our own reflexes.

SEE: READ BEFORE CARVING: Safety instructions

And now… Let’s carve a spoon!

I hope everyone enjoys all the content provided in this Blog and I’m able to continue sharing more information about Spoon Carving.

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