The grain direction: Understanding the crank

In this article we will talk about the importance of understanding the grain direction in wood for Spoon Carving and designing your own spoon.

A common characteristic in many types of spoons isthe crank. For example, eating spoons must have a slight curvature / crank so it makes it easier to scoop the food out of a plate, we can identify this crank by observing the spoons in our kitchen.

As we had previously determined, the ideal wood for spoon carving is straight grain wood, so how do we get a curved profile spoon design or a cranked spoon without compromising the its strength?

The ideal scenario would be to use a branch that has already a natural curve to it, like this one:

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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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This way, we have straight grain structure and a naturally curved profile that allows us to have a cranked but very strong spoon.

In most cases we start from a straight grain piece of wood that we get out of a log. We must understand that there is a limit to the curvature or crank we can get from straight grain wood without creating weak spots of short grain like we can see in the next illustration:

What if we want to carve a very cranked spoon like a Ladle? A ladle has a very pronounced crank, almost perpendicular, and to accomplish this we must use a part of the tree that allows us this type of shape. We can find this in a branch junction which has fibers in almost perpendicular directions.

The importance of understanding the grain direction

This way we can incorporate the natural shapes of trees and it fiber structure in our spoon designs.

Understanding this we can not only create strong and lasting pieces but it will make the whole carving process much more easy and fluid.

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