The next step #1: Finishing The Spoon

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Blog entry by osageman posted 04-03-2009 06:22 AM 2003 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The next step series no next part

Before we start the next part of the proccess, I want to talk about the spoon contest. Here are the rules.

1.) Only one utensil will be given away each month.
2.) Everyone has 5 guesses.
3.) The contest will run the 1st to the 25th of each month.
4.) Everyone with a correct guess will be put into a hat and the winner will be drawn from all the correct guesses. (25th of each month) Verified by Molly and Odie. (even a nice steak bone couldn’t sway them, last time:)
5.) You must correctly guess what tree the spoon was made from. Example: You must be specific, (black locust or honey locust) but not just locust in general. I’ll post a photo when I finish writing this blog.

I Have heard a few comments on my blogs. Some are having trouble following my instructions. If you find it hard to follow what I write, please let me know. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I won’t get into so much detail from now on.

Once you have the bowl shaped and are happy with your spoon, it’s time to take it back to the sander and finish shaping the handle and the back of the spoon. Remember, to stay away from the edge of the bowl, And also DO NOT sand the neck of the spoon when you first start. (this will be the thinnest and weakest part of any utensil) Leave that for when you are almost done. If you start sanding on the neck now, it will be too thin when you are finished. (the neck of the spoon, is just behind the bowl and then where it starts to widen as it goes up the handle)

I start by shaping the back of the bowl. You want to start by sanding from the back of the bowl to the front. (staying away from the top and the front) This is really hard to explain with out photos… As you pull the spoon from the back to the front of the spoon bowl, do it in nice even strokes. Start 1/8 ” from the top and work it to the center of the bowl. Then, turn the spoon over and do the bottom of the other side until the outside is the same as the inside. (same thickness) I do it by “feel” When the back of the bowl and the inside of the bowl feel the same, then, I know it’s right. How thick you want your bowl to be, is up to you. The thinner the bowl area, the weaker it will be, and also, if you leave it too thick, it will be too heavy. Think about the person that’s going to use it the most. Let them hold it, and tell you how heavy they want it.

When you have the back of the bowl shaped, it’s time to start shaping the handle. (still leaving the neck alone) This is done with the same stroke used on the back of the bowl. (stay away from the edge of the spoon handle, unless you want it to be round on the top of the handle. I don’t touch the edge on my utensils until I am almost done and then it’s just enough to take the edge off)

Once you have the handle where you want it, it’s time to blend in the neck. Just blend it in with the handle and bowl. Now, I use a 220 grit belt and sand the entire spoon to take out any sanding marks that the course belts left. After all the sanding marks are gone, I hand sand with 220 grit to smooth and blend it all together and then 400 grit. At this stage, your spoon should be silky smooth. Look at your spoon in a bright light to check for any sanding marks that might be left. If there is, hand sand some more, if there’s not, you’re ready for the final step…

When I am satisfied with my spoon, I dust it off with a hand broom (and myself) and take it into the house. This next step is where I give my newly made utensil, a bath. A BATH ? YES… You will need wet/dry sand paper (500 & 800 grit. I have found MIRKA brand from Finland to be the best. It has a photo of a bulldog on the back of it) Let a small trickle of water run over your spoon as you are sanding it. What this does is, it raises the grain and keeps it from raising again. This will keep your spoon from feeling fuzzy the next time you wash it. Start with the 500 grit and sand until it’s smooth, then use the 800 grit to really make it smooth… When you are happy with how it feels, dry it off and let it completly dry. Then hand rub mineral oil on it. YOU HAVE JUST COMPLETED YOUR FIRST SPOON…

Here are the most important things to remember while you are making any utensil…

1.) Start with a nice, straight piece The better you cut out your pattern, the better the utensil will look when finished. If you don’t have a straight piece to start with, YOU will fight it the whole time.
2.) Don’t be tempted to sand the neck. Save this until last.
3.) Stay away from the edges of the utensil when you are sanding. Leave this for blending when you hand sand.
4.) As you are working on each step of the proccess, stop and look at your utensil and make sure it is straight. By this I mean, uniform in appearence. My eye catches things if they are not straight. Most people don’t… 5.) Wet sanding is the key.

I would love to see the utensils you made from following my blog. And, let me know what kind of wood you used and how easy it was to work with. Hope you all enjoyed the read. Let me know how this series of lessons helped you make a better wooden utensil. IT WAS FUN WRITNG….:)>

-- OsageWare

7 comments so far

View mmh's profile


3676 posts in 3719 days

#1 posted 04-03-2009 06:31 AM

Wow neat! Another contest and a final lesson. What a guy!

Q: What type of sander are you using? Is it a 1” sanding belt or 4” sanding belt type? Where do you find plain mineral oil, no added perfumes, etc.?

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3911 days

#2 posted 04-03-2009 07:03 AM

A picture is worth 1000 words…

Look forward to more contests.

I might have time to actually make a spoon this weekend following your instructions ( well, mostly, I don’t have all the right tools so I’ll have to improvise) I’m in luck, though, I still have some Mirka sandpaper…

I still have some mineral oil that I bought from a pharmacy when I lived in the US – suitable for utensils as it was made to be ingested( I think). Otherwise, here in NZ, it’s impossible…though I heard that hydraulic oil is actually mineral oil – though doubtful if I would use it on a spoon.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View osageman's profile


59 posts in 3368 days

#3 posted 04-03-2009 07:50 AM


I use a 1” x 42” delta belt sander. I would look at other brands before I would buy another delta sander. Wal-Mart carries mineral oil (in the pharmacy, just ask them. They changed the color of the bottle from clear to white. It runs $1.88 for about 18 oz. It will last you a long time). I go througha bottle every month with all the utensils I make.

As long as your utensils are a very hard wood, (osage, hard rock maple) you can use olive oil. But be careful, Don’t use any type of oil other than mineral oil if it’s a softer wood. (such as walnut, etc,,) I would consider any wood a soft wood for utensils if, you can take your finger nail and put a dent in it. You can’t do that to Osage Orange…

-- OsageWare

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3381 days

#4 posted 04-03-2009 12:25 PM

It’ll be awhile before I get around to making a spoon with all the other things I have going on, but I really do plan on making one and posting it when I’m done. I’ve made one, but that was many years ago in high school shop class. I remember it being so easy, just cut something out and sand it. Maybe that was why people buy your spoons and actually use them and mine, well, I don’t know what happened to mine after I gave it to my mom. Thanks for the tutorial.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

505 posts in 3513 days

#5 posted 04-03-2009 02:25 PM

If you do not want to go to the expense of a strip sander, you can take a strip of sand paper that is normally used on a belt sander, cut it into one inch strips and make a bow out of wood (similar to a fiddle bow but not as long). Drill a hole on each end of the bow and then cut a slot into the hole for inserting the sandpaper (if I can find mine I will post a picture). I fasten the end away from the handle first (by inserting a tapered peg into the hole), then pull it as tight as I can and then insert a peg in this end. I am always amazed at how fast it sands. Having a shop without electricity makes one more creative.

-- jstegall

View osageman's profile


59 posts in 3368 days

#6 posted 04-03-2009 05:36 PM

Not use a belt sander or band saw ? There is no way. It would take forever. I can’t even imagine how long it would take without these tools. I know I wouldn’t be making utensils with out them. I have 4 of the Delta 1×42 belt sanders. BUT, I wish I had a BIGGER bandsaw…

But, that is a good idea if you don’t have power to your shop. I remember watching the old woodwright woodworking show on the weekends. This guy did everything without power tools. It was great! Was his name Roy Underhill, Underwood. I don’t remember, but I loved his show. Makes me wish we still had simpler times than the rat race we now call civilization…

I do appreciate all the comments!!!, keep them coming, John

-- OsageWare

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

505 posts in 3513 days

#7 posted 04-03-2009 08:25 PM

I have to move the table saw to the back patio when I need to do some serious work (it is the little DeWalt jobsite saw) while my Delta Unisaw sits in storage. No way that I will get 220 to this site. The good news is that I am once again improving my hand tool skills, and using them does not require hooking up a dust collector…but I am not trying to do anything more than make family fnd friends some gifts.
PS: I believe it is Roy Underhill

-- jstegall

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