I started carving spoons within the past year and the photo above is one of my first spoons. Overtime I have learned about many techniques, tools and people of this craft. Through this entry I would like to show you, my viewers, into the world of spoon carving. Please sit back, relax and enjoy!
How I started...
I had always liked to whittle or carve wood as I grew up. Throughout my child hood, growing up close to the woods and being in boy scouts, I would carve wooden boats and cars with my stepdad or grandpa. I liked to carve but I truly did not understand it until I got a little older. When I was in college, I used a Dremel tool for a wood project in an art design class. That project opened my eyes to what all could be made using just wood as a medium.
I experimented with making coasters, repairing old wooden items found at thrift stores and then I started making spoons. Now that I am older and live closer in town away from the forest, I always tell my wife I wish I learned how to spoon carve when I was younger. I grew up close to walnut, poplar, maple, and applewood. Many spoon carvers know that these are the best woods for spoon carving. I can still get my hands on some but its not quite as easy.
There are many ways to get the wood needed for spoon carving or other projects. You can always buy some from the local hardware or home depot store but dry treated wood isn't alway the best to work with. I started out by using dried poplar, pine and oak wood purchased from my local Lowes. This is when I learned what types of woods are good for spoon carving. Oak has holes throughout the grain, this can be bad as food particles can get stuck in those and make spoons rancid. Pine is okay but soft. If the wood is pressed against anything or used, it can break easily or have a imprint/dent on the wood. Poplar is a good starter wood but not the best. Poplar has a harder grain and no holes but it can still be soft in places.
After I carved a few spoons out of these woods, I did some research on what other carvers use. I then came across the term Green Wood. Green Wood is undried, raw, recently cut wood. It is easier to carve due to the grain has not dried and is softer. It also speeds up the process and does not dull the tools as easy. So I started looking for where I could find some greenwood. My grandpa had a sycamore tree that needed to be cut down and invited me over to help. We fell it together and I cut up a few small logs. I started to carve and low and behold, it was glorious! My knives sliced through the grain like butter. I was able to make a basic stewing spoon within an hour.
After that I became braver in my attempts to get some greenwood. My local city tree cutters where cutting trees down alongside our road. I asked if I helped, could I have a few pieces and they were glad the wood would be used for something instead of going straight into the wood chopper. Those good fellows ended up giving me some sugar maple, walnut and more sycamore (Pictured above). I got started carving as soon as the wood was in my shop. As of right now, I have a ton of pieces quartered and stored in construction bags to prevent it from drying out. So far, these are the only woods I have tried but I cant wait to try more.
There are many ways to go about carving spoons. Some people use clamps and gouges at a workbench. Some people use shaving horses and spokeshaves. Some use spoon mules, some use bandsaws or twa cams (although fewer know how to pronounce it than use it) or --gasp-- even sandpaper.
I started by using a set of BushCraft Knives.
To Be Continued...