Grandfather's tools -- Could I use these for spoon carving?

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Forum topic by livewire516 posted 10-18-2018 02:30 PM 846 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 32 days

10-18-2018 02:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: greenwood hatchet spoon carving bowl carving

So I have this small hatchet and a couple of carving knives that were my late grandfather’s (pictures below). I’ve been intrigued about spoon carving for a while now, but I’ve been hesitant to buy any tools for spoon carving since I’m unsure whether I’ll end up continuing to do it regularly. The hatchet weighs 15 oz., with the handle.

I am primarily asking if the hatchet is large enough, and if it has enough metal to shape it into something serviceable for small greenwood work? I have his bench grinder. He had quite a number of smaller wood carving knives, as that became his hobby after retiring from being a tool and die maker (although I can’t remember him ever making spoons or bowls) – so if these knives shouldn’t be used, I can see wait remains in the house the next time I go there.

Any input is greatly appreciated! The man tried, but could never get me to sit down long enough to learn hand carving from him when I was a kid – today, I get satisfaction out of using his bench plan and chisels as well as power tools. That being said, if trying to make this hatchet work is more likely just going to be an exercise in frustration, I’ll leave it unmolested and let it just be a keepsake.


7 replies so far

View Thole's profile


5 posts in 601 days

#1 posted 10-18-2018 03:43 PM

You are going to get the most mileage out of that modified Mora in the middle. It looks like a Mora 120 that he customized with a new handle added a clip to the back and increased the belly. I may try something similar some day. Should work great on the curves of spoons. Looks ideal for tackling the shoulder where the handle meets the bowl of the spoon. If you really pick up the hobby you might want to also get a Mora 106 for more generalized work.

The other knife is more of a chip carving and whittling knife. It would be good for adding designs to your work.

As to your main question, I think that axe would work fine to get you started. I would consider modifying the bevel to an asymmetrical bevel if it doesn’t already have one. I don’t think the axe is a good candidate to reshape into something resembling a carving axe. There is not enough steel and the current shape will work enough to start.

The most important thing for all of these tools is to get them very sharp. As sharp as you can make them, and that includes the axe.

View livewire516's profile


8 posts in 32 days

#2 posted 10-18-2018 10:18 PM

Thanks so much for the information – this realm of woodworking is all new to me.

If I can’t find a hook knife in his workshop, is that a necessary purchase? Purchasing one tool to try this out would in no way be a barrier.

Thanks again

View jdh122's profile


1042 posts in 2989 days

#3 posted 10-18-2018 11:22 PM

You don’t need a hook knife if you have a carving gouge. But you will need one or the other to carve the bowl of the spoon.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View livewire516's profile


8 posts in 32 days

#4 posted 10-19-2018 02:16 AM

Thanks Jeremy, that’s good to know. I plan to drive to his old woodshop this weekend – I wasn’t confident he had a hook knife but I’m all but certain he had several carving gouges.

View BurlyBob's profile


5934 posts in 2437 days

#5 posted 10-19-2018 04:18 AM

Just want you to know how I envious I am of you. I have nothing from my grandfathers. I would cherish such wonderful tools and even more, memories of time spent with my grandfathers such as you have!
My Best.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18988 posts in 2739 days

#6 posted 10-22-2018 12:53 AM

That’s a great start. Spoon carving is so addictive. You will need something to carve the bowl. A gouge, hook knife or bent knife will work. Making one isn’t all that difficult.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Phil32's profile


163 posts in 75 days

#7 posted 10-22-2018 02:27 AM

The hatchet shown is a shingling hatchet, used primarily for splitting cedar shingles and hammering the nails. The notch in the lower edge was to set the amount of shingle was exposed to the weather. The knives are basically whittling knives – not too useful for spoons and bowls. As stated by others, gouges will be most useful for carving the bowls of spoons or larger concave curves, but it is difficult to get the gouge cuts from opposite sides to meet in the middle of the bowl. It may be necessary to cut cross-grain with a very sharp gouge or crooked knife.

-- Phil Allin - Ventura, CA

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