The old time woodshop journals #23: Why I make spoons

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Blog entry by jjw5858 posted 08-22-2012 11:56 PM 1212 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 22: Wonders of German Woodcraft! Part 23 of The old time woodshop journals series Part 24: Dominy inspirations and tales of a turnscrew »

The shop is filled with a wonderful strong scent of fresh Cherry wood and the mission is on to evolve a cut branch into a country spoon. Very interesting this country spoon making is, so many great “spoonists” with their different styles and approaches but I suppose my greatest influence so early on is Peter Follansbee. His episode this past season with Roy Underhill in The Woodrigh’ts Shop truely captured my creativity and fascination to have a go at this kind of work. If you have yet to see it I highly recommend it and be warned….you may just get the spoon makin’ bug!

I have found it very freeing to let go of predetermined styles and ideas in this exercise of spoonery and instead inject my own personal expression for my particular mood. Carving away at a hunk of split green wood and just letting the shavings fall where they may unleashing lessons, praises, splits, mistakes…and challenging my current skills to adapt to the grain. Knowing the unknown is inevitable as I maneuver through and yet continue forward until there is something left that resembles my version of artistry through a tree.

Some of my latest works nearing their completion:

Something is dam nice about a sort of “have at it” approach and in many ways it is also like a childs surprise when it’s finished and I see what my hours, blisters, and sweat has produced. I think this kind of work is healthy therapy and I would say with great satisfaction of this work that underlying the blades, chisels and wood chips there is a hell of a lot more woodworking and joinery being constructed underneath the surface of the creative mind than I stop to realize. It’s all a sort of training for other things down the road involving grains and planes.

Of course (why spoons?) has been a question I myself ask at times. Why the time and spirit put into this craft? I think I borrow some of Peter Follansbee’s philosophy on this when I say that it’s one of the first things we see and use as an infant and you use this instrument all through your life. There is something rather nice and warm about that thought, it does in fact give me a feeling of creating something useful, fun and a reminder of simple pleasures. Making them for friends and family is one of the other wonderful avenues that gives oneself a really nice feeling of sharing your art.

So on the knives will sharpen and the wood felled strong and green will be split for more expression as the late summer prepares to welcome in the fall. The holidays are soon approaching and some special people in my lives will each be enjoying their own spoons so I need to get at it. The carving creates the blisters and the muscles need to have breaks but as I take small hatchet chops and hew my basic shapes I would be a lying man if I said the work felt like an aggravating vocation. I look over at the maple pieces and love how I am surrounded by their cousins oak, pine, and cherry. My insecurities with an ever changing world are once more secure feeling the strength and wisdom of my tools like old historians guiding me along an aged but true path of crafting ideas.

Shipping package please…carving knife please…..ok…cut,....tear,,…......ahhhhhh, Woodrights Shop Season 4 on dvd…..yesssss! Well, I sure better get my Carolina tool tote and pack a few cold ones on in there…time for me to get outta here friends and get on over to the mill to the Woodrights Shop!

Thanks for walking a bit on my path,
Keep creating!


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

5 comments so far

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2407 days

#1 posted 08-23-2012 12:07 AM

I need to get back to making some more spoons myself. As you have found out, it can be addictive and it is especially pleasing and calming if you just follow the wood. Good blog, as always.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2337 days

#2 posted 08-23-2012 12:07 AM

Really nice looking spoons. I wish I was better with hand carving.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2223 days

#3 posted 08-23-2012 12:34 AM

As always, the journey is as beautiful as the spoons. I agree there is something primal about holding a wooden spoon in one’s hand.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3150 days

#4 posted 08-23-2012 05:34 PM

Pretty cool spoon, I its nice to work on projects that require no measuring, just free hand cut it till it looks good to you.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2839 days

#5 posted 08-26-2012 12:08 AM

Joe we need to see the collection of spoons.
Great blog as usual.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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