Spoon making 101

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Blog entry by Andy posted 09-07-2010 11:15 PM 3477 reads 15 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch


The top and bottom spoons are Myrtlewood from Oregon, and the center one is Mahogany. Each took about 1.5 hours.The handle of the top spoon is a twist, but didnt photograph very well.
I noticed the recent contest posted by Osageman and was impressed with both his skill and his big heart.
Be sure and take a look at his page and make a guess on that wood.
I couldnt identify that wood, but it got my attention.
It got me interested in making a few spoons this last weekend and I wanted to share my approach. I dont wish to draw attention away from what Osageman is doing on his blog, but rather, I hope this info encourages others to give spoon making a try. If you have never carved anything before then a spoon is a great beginner project, its functional, very straightforward, and is pretty quickly done.
I will start by saying that I have made several styles of spoons and other treenware over the years and many are still in use today.
If I just want a spoon to give as a gift to someone that will really use it as a utensil, then I dont spend a lot of time on design, carving, super fine sanding, etc. I find that people will often display a gifted spoon on the wall if it is too nice.Thats flattering, but I would rather they use it.
So…keep that in mind when starting on your spoon, art or utility.

If this is your first spoon,then you may want to start with a soft wood, such as Poplar, Alder, Cyprus…etc.
Soft woods will fuzz,but with a little care they can be used for years. My Alder spoon is over 10 years old and I use it several times a week (I do a fair amount of cooking too)
Starting off with a chunk of Eastern Maple or Bloodwood may discourage you,so be kind to yourself, and get a spoon or two under your belt first.

Find a spoon you like and trace it on paper, top and side profile. If its for your use then pay attention to grip. Place the edge of the spoon on the flat of one palm and drag it back and forth, the handle shouldnt turn easily or you will have to squeeze very hard in order to use it.
The depth of the bowl depends on if you intend to ladle food with it or simply stir.I tend to make shallow bowls, more for stirring, soups, beans, making bread batter, etc..
Most of the final design will evolve as you do your final shaping.It should feel balanced and smooth.
A spoon is a tool (unless its for Art) so it should feel functional but graceful.

I have tried all sorts of ways to make spoons, and I still enjoy just using handtools, the peace and quiet of it all.
But here is my latest approach.
I mark my design onto a blank with a whiteout marker as shown in photo two. It is easy to see at any angle and with dust on glasses :)
I then rough out the blank a little over sized on the bandsaw. Then, making sure the back is flat, smooth, and clean, I glue it directly to a corner of my bench using super glue. I put about 4-6 drops scattered on the backside of the blank and press it onto the counter and hold for a bit. I use the accelerator and spray it directly onto the counter and when I press the blank down, it grabs instantly…no waiting.This is effectively the clamp to hold the blank while I carve out the bowl. It works great.
When you are done,just a gentle rap or two on the side of the blank knocks it free. Seldom does it pull any wood loose.If it does,the final shaping will remove the damage.
I use a straight 1/2’’ chisel to start my rough bowl shape. There are gouges that would work better, but this works ok for me. After removing to a depth of about 3/8’’ I switch to my Scorp, which is used on the pull stroke. Carefully go from side to side and switch end for end with shallow strokes.
Then I use a Dremel with a flap sander to smooth it to a fair surface, checking often.Then hand sand with 100 and progress to 220.
I use an inflated drum sander to shape the backside of the bowl and handle.You can gauge the bowl for even thickness by pinching it between your thumb and forefinger, like a caliper. Its very accurate and fast.

The final work is hand sanding to the desired finish you are after ,then coat with mineral oil, or whatever type finish you prefer.

Or, you can go wild and just use your pocket knife like I did on this one. I cleaned it up with some hand sanding and applied some oil to protect it. This one was made while sitting around camp and visiting.

Thanks for reading.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

22 comments so far

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3524 days

#1 posted 09-07-2010 11:35 PM

Hey Andy, beautiful spoons…...are they myrtlewood and something else?

Uhh, now let me see, do these spoons go on top of a box as a handle or something???? There has got to be a box in there somewhere!!!! LOL

Very nice Andy!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Andy's profile


1694 posts in 3936 days

#2 posted 09-07-2010 11:36 PM

Now thats an idea, a spoon on top of a box :-)
Thanks Gene!

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3336 days

#3 posted 09-07-2010 11:59 PM

Very nice spoons Andy…It is nice to seea project that can be done in a relatively short period of time. So many wood projects lately seem to involve alot of hours to complete. As always, you do a great job and an excellent tutorial.

View yarydoc's profile


417 posts in 3172 days

#4 posted 09-08-2010 12:03 AM

Nice work Andy.

-- Ray , Florence Alabama

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#5 posted 09-08-2010 01:30 AM

Than You, Andy!!! Now I see what I’ve been doing wrong.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3524 days

#6 posted 09-08-2010 01:44 AM

Guess I jumped the gun and responded before the actual blog came up…...oh well…...

Great blog Andy and a very easy process for people to follow.
I’ve been wanting to try to make a few of these someday and now maybe I will!!!

Thanks again,

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 3485 days

#7 posted 09-08-2010 02:04 AM

Thanks for another great how to. You always write them in a way that makes me think I can do that, and want to do it.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View Broglea's profile


685 posts in 3118 days

#8 posted 09-08-2010 02:12 AM

Thanks for sharing Andy.

My mom planted some apple trees when I was 7. I’m now 38. This spring I went back home and noticed that mom had the trees pruned back quite a bit. I asked mom where the wood from the trees were. She pointed to the stack of fire wood. I found some pretty good sized pieces I took back home with the plan of making some spoons from them. I think I’ll start on them this week end.

What types of wood makes the best spoons?

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4094 days

#9 posted 09-08-2010 02:13 AM

I see spoons for all of the family, in the very near future. Thanks Andy AND Osageman for the inspiration and easy to follow instructions.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View PaBull's profile


956 posts in 3693 days

#10 posted 09-08-2010 02:15 AM

Thanks for sharing this post.

It just added to my todo list.

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3432 days

#11 posted 09-08-2010 02:39 AM

Thanks for the tutorial Andy. Looks like they would great gifts.

-- Alan, Prince George

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3046 days

#12 posted 09-08-2010 04:54 AM

I was reading this right after you posted and didn’t finish as I had to go do something else, just got back to finish reading the article and definitely I see a spoon or 2 in my future projects. I was eye balling a piece of wood in the shop and thought “would this work?” Only problem with this wood is that it is very hard but it will make a beautiful spoon!

Thanks for posting the blog!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Allens's profile


44 posts in 3631 days

#13 posted 09-08-2010 05:27 AM

Now Kathy wants me to make a spoon for her. Let’s see…. I think I have a butter knife and 4×4 so I guess I have all I need.

-- Paul & Kathy Allen

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4007 days

#14 posted 09-08-2010 02:09 PM

Hi Andy;

Great write up! And the spoons are quite nice, too.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3725 days

#15 posted 09-08-2010 05:36 PM

Very nice Andy, lot of work but it came out great.

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