1. What Wood Do You Use?
I like to use any freshly cut wood. I love cherry, maple, walnut, basically any fruit or nut trees. Honestly, if it's been freshly cut or blown down in a storm recently, and it was alive, it's going to be great to carve.
2. Where Do You Get Your Wood?
I like to check in with business's that are clear cutting. I ask my neighbors when they're trimming their trees. Sometimes I go out after a windstorm. Also I will ask local city workers. We have a few orchards close by, I can ask them when they prune their trees and will come and get some for free when they do. Lastly, I have family and friends that own property with woods and sometimes cull trees. One thing I always do though is ask and it never hurts to.
3. How Big Does The Wood Need To Be?
I like to carve pieces that are about the diameter of a football or bigger. It needs to be wide enough that I can split it in half and take out the pith, or the center of the piece of wood- that is where the most tension lives in the wood, and if I leave it in, the spoon will be much more prone to warping and cracking as it dries.
4. Do You Carve Wet Or Dry Wood?
The best is wet, or green wood for carving (it has to have been cut down within the last few months).
5. Why Not Dry Wood?
I actually can carve dry wood but it is a lot harder to carve. As the moisture content leaves the wood, the wood hardens and becomes increasingly difficult to carve, and is a lot harder on my blades, so they dull quicker.
6. How Do You Dry It Once You've Carved It?
Once I've carved it, it actually dries really really quickly- within 2-3 days (if its carved thin enough). So if I have a finished, carved spoon, or gotten it close to being finished, I'll just either hang it on my spoon drying rack or set it on top of some shavings and then let it dry out naturally, it should only take about two or three days.
7. What Tools Do You Carve With?
I can carve almost anything flat with a Sloyd Knife. -It's a little bit different than a pocket knife. But I got away with a multi bladed Old Timer pocket knife when I first got started. Once I got into carving a little bit more I got a beavercraft knife carving set that included a sloyd knife, a bent gouge, a mini sloyd knife and a detal knife. Overtime, I discovered I needed a saw. A saw actually helped me fetch the branches and cut small logs. I also use a small bearded hatchet for rough carving and one day will buy a froe. But really, all I need is a axe, a knife and hook knife. Eventually with more experience, I moved on and got a skinny sloyd knife and a few hook knives from a amazing company called DeepwoodsVentures based in Minnesota. The owners, Paul and Pat Jones make spoon carving knives that are top notch blacksmith quality. Anytime I am looking to upgrade or replace a knife, they are my favorite spoon carving knife makers in the states.
click on the picture below for a link to their tools!
8. Your Knives Seem Really Sharp! Should You Dull Them To Make Them Safer?
Dull knives, contrary to human logic are actually much more dangerous than sharp knives, the sharper the knife, the less force you need behind it and the lower the likelihood that you'll actually cut yourself. Dull knives = more force needed, less control over the tool, accidents are much more likely.
9. How Do you Know If Your Knives Are Sharp Enough To Carve Safely?
A lot of people like to use a piece of paper or to shave their arm hair to test the sharpness of their knives, but really, if you're cutting wet wood and it's not kind of butter-like, if it's not like carving a hard cheese or an unripe pear, then you probably need to sharpen your knife. Also, if your knife is leaving a lot of little ridges in your wood as you're carving, that's another sure sign that it’s time to sharpen it.
10. Are Knives Ready To Use Once You Buy Them?
Depends on where I buy them from- but it’s pretty safe to say that I should be able to use a knife out of the box for my first five or six spoons before it’s too dull to continue using safely.
11. How Do You Use A Knife?
There are five basic cuts that I learned to keep carving safely. The power cut, the chest lever grip, the pull cut, the thumb lever cut and the scoop cut. Below is a example of the thumb lever cut.
12. How Long Does It Take You To Carve A Spoon, Like 30 Minutes?
My first spoon took me about nine hours to carve. I had no idea what I was doing. I build My speed up basically by practicing and learning how to use the tools. I know that's not super exciting to hear, but it’s the truth. Now it takes about thirty minutes to an hour from log to spoon. depends on how many knots are in the log
13. What If You Can't Use All The Wood You Get At The Same Time?
I generally get my spoon wood at a arms length log at a time, rather than a small chunk at a time. So if I'm not able to use all of my carving wood right away, I’ll saw it in 6 foot lengths and paint the ends with old latex paint, wood glue or a product like glue seal. I then stack it on a homemade wood storage rack and put a tarp over it (Pictured Below). If I think I can get it out later, I’ll toss smaller wood chunks or billets in a container of water. If I’ve got smaller unfinished pieces, tossing it in a plastic bag will help retain the moisture. If its real cold out and snowy, I'll process as much of the wood as I can into ready to carve spoon “blanks” or billets, put those in a bag, and store them in the snow until I’m ready to carve. Some carvers use their freezer but who has the space when your freezer is full of chicken nuggets and pizza rolls, am I right?
14. Why Make A Wooden Spoon, When You Can Just Buy Them Super Cheap?
You get the reward of cooking with something handmade and beautiful. Much thought is put into making a wooden spoon and it has a story built into it. Plus hand carved spoons last a lot longer than machine made. Also hand carved spoons can be used for more than just Kitchen Décor.
15. How Do You Design A Spoon?
This sounds pretty silly, but when I first started, I would usually let the wood tell me what the spoon wants to look like. A good way to do it is to divide your piece into three. The bowl wants to take up one part of the three and the handle wants to take up the other two parts of the three. The bowl of the spoon usually wants to look like an egg. Just recently, i have started to practice production carving on straight grain wood. Once I have a few designs that I really like, I make a template using a plastic sheet from a old folder or a cardstock sheet. Making a template helps me copy that design over and over again.
16. How Do You Carve In Three Dimensions?
Actually, I don’t. I think of carving like I think of cookie cutters. I first start in one dimension, and then I make the first dimension the shape that I want looking at it straight on. And then I carve it to that second dimension after I've got that initial shape. Then, I make the two dimensions meet by blending all the lines together. And voila! A 3 dimensional object appears.
17. Why Do You Prefer A Knife Finish Over Sanding?
Ideally, I build up my skill set so that I can carve a finished spoon right off the knife and avoid having to sand. But sometimes there are really tricky bits that just don't want to cooperate. And so I can sand, but I really like to leave the knife cuts visible on my spoons. If I am going to sand it to make it perfect and machine smooth, why wouldn't I just use machines to carve it in the first place?
18. What Do You Finish It With?
Danish Oil, Mineral Oil or any kind of other cooking oil that is not going to go rancid. An example would be you are reoiling a very nice hand carved spoon and you don't have a lot of options in your home. You can use coconut oil as it does not got rancid quickly and dries at room temp, but not olive oil or canola oil as those oils go bad over a short amount of time. My favorite oil is from a company called Tried and True Danish Oil, it is non-toxic to apply and is completely food safe once dried. Can you put these in the dishwasher? I wouldn't recommend it. Water, heat and wood utensils don't always mix. However, you can wash it by hand, dry it immediately, and re-oil it on occasion.
I hope I answered most people's questions!
Thanks for reading!