How To Carve A Wooden Spoon

Kitchen utensils remain one of the best beginner projects for woodcarvers, it has a simple shape but requires all of the basic whittling cuts to complete. Carving spoons has become a separate art itself because it offers a range of personal modifications once the basics are mastered.

I will be covering the basic steps on how to carve a wooden spoon, all that is necessary to have is the best whittling knife you can find available to you, a hook knife, and some wood.

For safety purposes, making controlled cuts and keeping the blade sharp is essential during this whole project, wear hand protection when needed.

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

Get Some Wood

No, not just any piece of wood. The two most influential factors for starting a wood carving project are:

  • size
  • type

The reason the size of the wood is important is because it determines the size of the finished project, a little bit of a no-brainer. Try not to get a piece that’s too big, since the wood carving tools we are using are just basic hand carving tools. It’s safer to pick out wood that’s anywhere from 6”-12”.

Wood type is important for a couple reasons:

Your carving tools will work smoothly with softwood, so it’s best not to pick a hardwood for your first project. It is most ideal to find wood where the fibers run parallel and straight. Greenwood and basswood are going to be the easiest to work with because they are both softwoods and have a fine grain. Many woodshop utility stores have wood you can purchase or, if you’re lucky, they’ll just give it to you.

Flatten The Wood

It helps to have a hatchet or an axe during this step, but it is not essential to completing it.

Begin making rough-push cuts along one side of the wood until you have a flat, even surface to draw on. If the wood acquired already has a flat side with enough area to trace a spoon on then skip to the next step.

Draw An Outline

Once there is a flat, even side to draw on, make a rough outline of your wooden spoon with a pencil. You will be carving around the outline so this step is where you can create the desired spoon size, handle shape, and any other specific modifications.

This outline will serve as a guide for the shape of the spoon throughout the remaining steps, so be sure it is visible. It doesn’t need to look nice, just obvious enough to make a barrier for carving the surrounding areas.

Carve The Handle

We want to shave down the excess wood outside of our outline. Depending on which direction the wood grain runs is the direction you will want to carve. Carving against the grain damages the wood, so don’t do that. You’ll know if you’re going the wrong way if the wood splinters and breaks off erratically as opposed to clean, smooth cuts.

Begin shedding wood material off the sides by the handle. Continue using push cuts to remove larger portions of wood while maintaining control of the knife until the handle has the desired shape.

Carve The Spoon

Once you’ve shaved down the sides close enough to your rough outline, start shaping the head of the spoon. Remain using the push cut, this will come in handy with pesky end grain which can be harder to remove.

Check the knife for signs of dulling. A chipped or folded bevel are the two main signs, and you will need to sharpen accordingly.

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

A dull knife is more dangerous to use than a sharp one because the amount of tension used to carve can easily slip out of the wood and do serious damage. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you!

Scooping Spoon’s bowl

Grab the hook knife, it can be a single or double bevel, and use it to scoop out the spoon’s bowl. Carve with this knife using  similar motion to scooping out ice cream from a carton, the deeper you go into the wood the more wood will come out.

It’s a little difficult beginning this motion and can even feel like an awkward motion at times, but it gets easier with the more wood that is removed.

Be aware of how deep your dip is in the bowl, it would be very unfortunate to carve a bowl so deep that you eventually create a hole. This would mean you would have to start all over!

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zedoutdoors Flickr via Compfight cc

Finishes

A good way to complete a project is by sanding down all jagged edges and pencil markings while making surfaces even. Take a nice finishing coat to soak the your new hand carved wooden spoon for a darker color. Let it set for a while before wiping off your first completed project!

You can find wood, knife stones to sharpen, and other best wood carving tools by visiting the website, attending a workshop, or just by starting yourself!

About the Author:  My name is Nathan and I have been wood carving for over 8 years. I own and operate a wood carving website that provides useful and valuable information to those looking to learn the craft or find a solution to their problems. To see all-inclusive introduction guides to wood carving visit my site BestWoodCarvingtools.com for more information.