Wood for Spoon Carving. Understanding the grain and deformation.

Wood for Spoon Carving

Now that we know what type of wood is ideal for Spoon Carving.

What part of the log can I use?

To carve we use mostly the Sapwood and the Heartwood.

The design of the grain will depend on how we cut the log or branch.

We should avoid using the Pith (center of the tree) because it has a greater tendency to crack than the rest of the wood in a tree.

If we use a small diameter branch, the only option would be to cut it tangentially, which means split it in half but avoiding the pith.

Small section branch

Now, if we have a bigger log we have more options as to where to split it. Now we can cut not only tangentially but also radially. In the next illustration we can see some examples:

With the tangential cut we get interesting grain patterns but as the wood dries, the shrinkage might twist the spoon. This cut could also create weak points caused by areas with short grain, specially in the neck of the spoon (if its very cranky).

With the radial cut we get a stronger structure but it could create weak points caused by short grain around the edges of the bowl, specially if it’s too deep. Although this cut is the most stable during the drying process and it will shrink uniformly. The grain pattern will be mostly straight but it depends on the diameter of the tree and the distance to the pith.

In the next illustration we can see how the wood deforms as it shrinks during the drying process. Taking in account the shrinkage deformation and the different grain patterns for each type of cut, now we can decide what part of the log or branch to use so it corresponds with the requirements of out spoon design.

Caution spoon carvingWhen we cut green wood, it is very important to store it properly to prevent cracks.

Cracks occur when the wood starts drying rapidly and therefore irregularly. This is a process we can control: Read more on this subject in Storing green wood: How to prevent cracks.

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