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I’m not going to be able to write tomorrow so I am writting today. Now that you have your piece of wood picked out for your 1st spoon, let’s get started.
I am sitting here with a cup of freshly made tea, with the wooden tea spoon that I made last night. I really liked this little spoon. I took my time (1 1/2 hours) making it. The grain is very nice and it is especially smooth and soft to the touch. SO, I decided to keep it… After I finished wet sanding it and was drying it off, I noticed a slight rough place on it. I looked, but couldn’t really see anything. SO, I got the magnifying glass and looked. All the joy I had for this “perfect” little Osage spoon, was gone. It had a very small, hair line crack in, the edge of the spoons bowl. I sanded it at that place, but it changed the shape (ever so slightly) of the bowl, and the crack was still there. I ate a bowl of soup with it to see if I would feel the fracture while eating with it. I didn’t feel the crack.
I do plan on keeping and using this spoon. I want to see if that crack opens up and widens. Here is another point for you to consider; don’t feel too dissapointed when things like this happen to the spoons and utensils you are making. Use these times as learning experiences on what certain wood does. Save those pieces and use them for testing. I pretty much know what will happen to this spoon (nothing) I doubt if the crack will get any worse. I have a spoon soaking now that has a big crack, right in the middle. I guess I should say, split. I have used that spoon for almost 5 years and the split is still the same. I leave it in whatever I’m cooking to try and make the split widen.
SO, here is my point; when you are picking a piece of wood to use, check it out first to see if there are any cracks in it. Then as you cut the shape out on the band saw, use a magnifying glass to check for hair line fractures in the wood. I didn’t know quite how to word it, but I think you get my point.
I want to talk about patterns in this blog. I have patterns for every utensil I make. (a side pattern and top pattern) These are made out of wood (osage)I was asked if you could free hand a design on the wood and make it that way. Yes you can, BUT, YOU WILL FIGHT IT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY… Everything will flow, if you start with a spoon blank cut out nice and straight. If you have to fight it, it won’t be much fun…
Here is what I would do if I didn’t have a pattern to work with. Look through your kitchen drawer, with all those, aweful, cheap, K-Mart wooden spoons, and pick one that you can stand to work with. NOW, go set at the table (with your wife) As you start to trace the spoon ( just to give you a starting place) ask your wife what she wants in this spoon ( And let her draw what she want, UNLESS, you are making it for you, and then I guess, “you’ll” be cooking with it :) Add or subtract from the spoon you are tracing to get something you and your wife are comfortable with. She will have ideas about the spoon that you don’t. Tell her ahead of time what you are planning and ask her to think about what she wants in this spoon.
Once you have the design you want, it’s time to transfer it to a heavier piece of stock board. The point here is, to use something strong enough that it won’t move as you trace it onto your spoon blank. And it needs to be flexible, and Light weight. Flexible plastic works the best (until you can make wooden patterns) When you perfect your 1st utensil and want to start copying it, then make a permanent pattern. (remember, side pattern and top pattern) SO, don’t forget to design both. Remember, as you are designing always think, ERGONOMIC. This word is key, to making a great, useful utensil. Whatever you design, it must fit your hand like a glove and be easy to use…The shape of the utensil must fit the intended task.
Once you have settled on the design you want and you’re wife is happy with it, it’s time to transfer that pattern to the wood. Study the wood, try to accentuate the “best” features of the wood.
You will need a 1/4” bandsaw blade for making the curved cuts. You can use wider blades, but, your utensil will take a lot more time to sand. The better you cut your pattern out, the easier the utensil will be to make. Lay your piece of wood on it’s side (take your side pattern and lay it on your wood, ( where you want your utensil to come out of) and trace it. Look at your piece of wood, and decide if you can get more than one utensil from it. (note: only trace and cut ONE utensil at a time) Then cut it out on the bandsaw. Make sure you leave plenty of room (1/16”) around the tracing to blend in later. ( this is key to what the finished utensil will look like) One of the keys to making a utensil that looks great is being able to have natural curves that blend in with the total shape. When you make your first cut, check to see if there is any cracks or hair line fractures to deal with. If there is, then you need to either move the pattern up and re cut it or save that piece of wood for another utensil. If there’s not, proceed with the next cut. When you get your side view cut out, re-check to see if there is any cracks or fractures. Hopefully, there will be some wiggle room to adjust your top pattern if there is a crack.
Once you have the side view cut, then it’s time to trace the top pattern on and cut it. Lay your top pattern on it and trace around it. Make sure you have a dark pencil line to use as your guide when you are sanding. BUT, you don’t want, too wide of a pencil line. Keep plenty of sharp pencils around… I use 4 b pencils for all my tracing of patterns. The lead is plenty hard and it gives me a dark enough line to work with when I am sanding the outline. Regular # 2 pencils are a little too hard and don’t show up on the wood enough for me. It gets even harder when you work with dark colored wood. Any art supply stores will have 4 b pencils. The key to sanding your pattern is, to have a nice dark line that you can easily see while sanding on the belt sander.
After you have your spoon blank cut out, you are ready to start sanding. And we will get to that in my next blog…
As I am writing these blogs, I can think of so much more that is involved in the spoon making proccess. And there is no way that I can explain everything about the proccess in a blog like this. But what I can tell you is this; as you master these simple steps, you will then be able to solve the other problems that arise.
When I first started making spoons, I made mistakes. At first it would irritate me. (because they take so long to make) BUT, some times those mistakes turned into another kitchen utensil designed, or it looked better than what I had originally intended. It didn’t take me long to realize that I never really did make a mistake, BUT, a “happy accident”. I’m sure you all have experienced what I’m talking about.
If anyone has further questions about making patterns (or anything that involves utensils) please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org