Wooden spoons have been made for centuries, first from necessity, then for the love of crafting, carving, or simply to see if it could be done. To carve a wooden spoon, you’ll want to start with a wood that’s not too hard, not too soft. Cherry wood is perfect if you haven’t cared much, if you have, you choose what works best for you. Don’t choose a wood with a strong aroma, such as cedar, for making the spoon. Start with a piece of wood about 12″ long and 3″ wide and an inch thick. Choose which side of the wood will be the top by examining the wood for tree rings. The top of the spoon should have rings, sweeping towards you.
You can use a wooden spoon from your kitchen utensil drawer as a pattern for the spoon or draw one free hand. This can be the length you wish and the concave part of the spoon can be as deep as you’d like it to be. As you learn to make the spoons, you can experiment with different patterns. Draw the pattern directly onto your wood, then cut away all the wood that isn’t part of the spoon. This can be done the old-fashioned way, by whittling it down, little by little, or you can speed up the process by using a band or scroll saw. You can also use the latest in small rotary tools for trimming down the wood. If you’re whittling it by hand, use a vice to prevent accidents. Stay outside of your outline, then sand the piece later, down to the line.
To continue, you’ll need a palm carver, a carving knife, a handled rasp, a gooseneck scraper, and a small file. You’ll also need a piece of thick fabric, a leather glove with a thumbhole cut, and a pack of sandpaper. Begin by using your rasp to make the back rounded, then start on making a smooth line down to the handle. Use your knife to carve a smooth curve where the handle meets the spoon, working with the grain. Once the back is well rounded, use 80 grit sandpaper to begin smoothing it. When you have the large gouges sanded, use the gooseneck scraper to smooth it even more.
Place the bowl of the spoon in the vice, using a cloth to protect the wood from getting gouged. Begin taking the sharp edges off of the handle. Continue turning it in the vise and rasping down the corners with a rounding motion. When the spoon begins to take shape, remove it from the vise and use the gooseneck scraper down the handle. To dig out the bowl, lay a thick piece of fabric across your leg and use your palm carver or a spoon scoop. Draw a pencil line around the outside edge of the bowl, then about a sixteenth of an inch in toward the center of the bowl, outline it again. Carve inside the second outline only, since the other is the bowl edge.
Start digging in the center of the bowl, carving outward from there, removing small pieces. Carve away from yourself, never towards yourself. To make sure you have the same thickness on the bottom as you have on the sides, you can use a set of calipers to determine the millimeter, but some people who carve spoons just judge by the way the spoon looks or feels. When you’re certain that the bowl is even, begin the sanding process.
Start with an 80-grit sandpaper inside the bowl, handle and back of spoon. Use an old cloth to wipe the spoon, feeling for lumps or uneven places. Then use 100 grit sandpaper to sand the entire spoon again. Sand over and over, moving from 100 grit, to 120 grit, to 150, 220, 400 and finally 600 grit.
Between each grit, wipe with the cloth. The sanding process takes quite some time and effort, so be prepared to work on the spoon the better part of a day. When the spoon is sanded smooth, use mineral oil to polish it. Now that you’re finished with the spoon, how about a nice, big ladle?Between each grit