Making a spoon

Making a spoon is basically a simple process that takes place in a fixed number of steps. The difficulty is not in the process itself, but mainly in getting familiar with your tools and getting a feel for the shape of the spoon that you want to make.

Green wood

You can of course use dried wood that you shape with a fretsaw or band saw, after which you make the hollow with a gouge. I always work with green wood that I shape with chopping and cutting tools. I generally only use a saw to shorten the wood. The method for making a spoon, as I describe it here, is based on the way I do it and is certainly not the only method. Therefore, there is nothing to stop you from making your own spoon, in your own way.

What wood to use

krom hout voor de kromming in je lepel
A curved piece of wood is very well suitable

It starts with selecting a suitable piece of wood. In fact, almost every piece of wood is sufficient as long it is large enough. There are, however, a number of things that you can take into account. Things that make it easier to work, get a strong spoon or make the spoon visually a lot more interesting. You get a strong, sturdy spoon by picking out wood with grain that follows the shape of a spoon. Especially at a narrow part of the handle a fracture can occur when the grain is perpendicular to the handle. A branch with a curvature in it can therefore be very useful to make a strongly curved spoon.

Nests in the wood make the wood a lot more interesting on the one hand, but on the other hand they make chopping and cutting a lot more difficult. It is also possible that a knot shrinks more than the surrounding wood, causing it to fall out, or causing a leak in your spoon. Just experiment with knots and find that fine balance between appearance and practical workability.

The first step

After you have cut the right length of the branch or trunk that you want to use, split it into the desired thickness. Take the curvature of your spoon into account. Your entire spoon, including curvature, must fit into your piece of wood that you have split. For splitting the wood, I usually use a froe, but it is also possible to place your axe on the spot where you want to split the wood and then hit it with a large wooden hammer.

De stadia van een lepel
From branch to spoon

Shaping your spoon

In the next step you roughly shape the wood with the axe. This is done in two stages, which may overlap. The first stage carving out the side profile of your spoon. At that moment you actually make a board with a bend or curvature, depending on the profile of the spoon that you want to make. The second stage is carving the shape of a spoon with your axe. It’s more practical to first draw the desired shape on the board that you have made. Because it is very difficult to make a spoon symmetrical, especially in the beginning, you can use an existing spoon or a cut-out paper spoon as a template. Now chop away all the wood outside the lines.

Make sure that the grain in the wood is taken into account when chopping and cutting. The wood splits easily with the grain, so that if you cut or carve in the wrong direction, you could remove a much larger piece of wood than you intended. Take a look at the beautiful posters of Barn the Spoon for the correct carving direction. When you first start off, make sure that you cut away at least as much as in the 3rd step from the left in the photo. The more experienced you get, the more you can get to the shape of the next to last step from the left with just an axe. Carve the spoon to near completion with the straight knife and the spoon knife.

stadia van een lepel 2
From branch to spoon

Finishing your spoon

Now it’s time to let the spoon dry. Because dry wood is harder to cut, you use fresh wood. On the other hand, you get smoother finishes with dry wood. That is why you do not finish the spoon completely at first, but let it dry when it is almost finished. Do not force the spoon to dry in an oven because there is a high chance of cracking. Let it dry in the shade and out of the wind.

After one or two weeks, depending on the weather, you can finish the spoon. If your knife is very sharp, you don’t have to sand the spoon. To give it a nice finish you can oil it, which makes the colours more pronounced. To get a slightly smoother finish, making the spoon even more pleasant to eat with, you can thouroughly rub it with a hard and smooth object. One could use a piece of porcelain (not a sharp edge of a shard). If you do this after oiling you will get that nice, smooth and shiny surface that you see with wood that has been used for a long time. Don’t you forget to maintain your spoon properly?

Now just start using your spoon regularly and it will only become more beautiful!