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Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving

Wood Carving a Basic Wooden Spoon

Today the steps for carving a basic wooden spoon have been posted on my new page – Wood Carving a Basic Wooden Spoon.    So go grab your carving kit, gloves, and a 3″ by 1 1/2″ x 12″ basswood blank and join me as we work through the general steps needed to create your own kitchen stirring spoon.

Now before we begin – before some retired mechanical engineer writes me that my project spoon is not a perfectly dissected ovoid or that my handle is not absolutely parallel to the center line of the bowl – just let me say that spoon carving is an art form that has natural imperfections.

Handmade spoons have dings, dents, bends, wobble curves, and even warping handles.  No matter how hard you try to sand your spoon perfectly smooth I guarantee that you will discover an area of five that need a little more attention.  If you want a “perfect spoon” buy one.  If you want to have fun, enjoy your carving, and be really creative … Carve One!

The Art of Spoon Carving Project

The Art of Spoon Carving
Discover why I carve spoons!
Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving, Traditional Spoon Styles and Shapes.
Four Methods to  Cutting a Spoon Blank
Wood Carving a Basic Wooden Spoon

The Art of Spoon Carving

Please share with your family, friends, and fellow carvers!

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving

Wood Carving a Basic Wooden Spoon

Today we will be taking a quick look at The Art of Spoon Carving.  This is a quick look because I simply do not have the time or room on a blog to post what we can cover in a full, 156 page book.  This is a condensed project from The Art of Spoon Carving, by Lora S. Irish – twelve step-by-step projects, 57 unique spoon patterns, and lots of photos.

Previous Posts in this Spoon Carving Series
The Art of Spoon Carving
Discover why I carve spoons!
Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving, Traditional Spoon Styles and Shapes.
Four Methods to  Cutting a Spoon Blank
Wood Carving a Basic Wooden Spoon

 

Wood Carivng a Basic Wooden Spoon

Supply List – Four Methods to  Cutting a Spoon Blank

The Art of Spoon Carving by L S Irish
10″ length Coping Saw
Coping Saw Blades
Clutch Style Bar Clamp
Heavy Duty Anti-Slip Mat
Flexcut 3″ Straight Drawknife
Cut Resistant Gloves
Wood Carving Chisel Tool Set (8 Pcs)
Ryobi 16 in. Corded Scroll Saw
Pin End Scroll Saw Blade Assortment
PFEIL “Swiss Made” Made Roughing Knife
Flexcut Carving Tools, Carving Knife Set, Set of 4


Extra Supplies for Avid Spoon Carvers

Morakniv Wood Carving 164 Hook Knife
Morakniv Wood Carving 162 Hook Knife
Hooked Push Knife

Shown in the photo below, from top to bottom:  Large chip carving knife, 1/2″ bent round gouge, 3/8″ v-gouge, 3/8″ straight round gouge, 5/8″ wide sweep round gouge, and a hooked push knife.
Wood Carving Tools for Carving a Wooden Spoon

Step 1 – Tracing and Creating the Blank

Begin by tracing your pattern onto your wood blank.  This basic wooden spoon is worked on a 12″ long x 1 1/4″ thick x 3″ wide basswood blank.  There are four basic methods that you can use to create your rough blank – bench knife, coping saw, scroll saw, or draw knife.

The Art of Spoon Carving

Please click on the pattern below for a full-sized printable image.  Since I find that I use a spoon pattern many time I begin my project by tracing the pattern onto a sheet of chipboard to create a reusable tracing template.  An empty, large cereal box works very well.   You can see my chipboard template in the photo above, under the original antique spoon at the top.

basic wooden spoon pattern

 

For my rough-cut wood blank I used a draw knife.  Please visit Four Methods to  Cutting a Spoon Blank for the step-by-step instructions to rough cutting your spoon blank.

using a draw knife in wood carving

Four Methods to Cutting a Spoon Blank

Four Methods to Cutting a Wooden Spoon Blank

There are four easy methods to rough cutting your wood carving spoon blank – bench knife, coping saw, draw knife, and scroll saw.  Your bench knife or coping saw work wonderfully on thin woods that are under 3/4″ thick, and soft woods as basswood.  Go to your scroll saw or draw knife for thick, 1″ or more blanks and for your hardwoods as walnut and cherry.

Previous Posts in this Spoon Carving Series
The Art of Spoon Carving
Discover why I carve spoons!
Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving, Traditional Spoon Styles and Shapes.

Spoon Carving Supply List

Basswood spoon blanks – I personally shop EBay.com for my basswood blanks.  I can see the exact bundle of wood that I am bidding or buying.  Plus it is easy to find thicker and wider wood and un-planed , rough-sawn wood blanks that are perfect to bent handled spoons.  You can any carving wood to create decorative spoons, but I prefer basswood especially when I am working on a new design or shape.

The Art of Spoon Carving by L S Irish
10″ length Coping Saw
Coping Saw Blades
Clutch Style Bar Clamp
Heavy Duty Anti-Slip Mat
Flexcut 3″ Straight Drawknife
Cut Resistant Gloves
Wood Carving Chisel Tool Set (8 Pcs)
Ryobi 16 in. Corded Scroll Saw
Pin End Scroll Saw Blade Assortment
PFEIL “Swiss Made” Made Roughing Knife
Flexcut Carving Tools, Carving Knife Set, Set of 4

Bench Knife

Every wood carving tool set should contain a high-quality bench knife or large chip carving knife.  This tool is the main stay of our craft and you can accomplish almost all your carving strokes with just a bench knife.  I personally prefer a large chip carving knife as my bench knife because it puts my hand closer to the wood.

bench knife cutting a wood spoon blankThe bench knife can be used to cut the general shape of your spoon. Work the cutting edge of the knife with the direction of the wood grain of your basswood blank as much as possible.

rough out cutting a wood spoon blankTake thin slivers of wood with each cut by keeping the blade angle low to the wood. Taking too deep a cut at the beginning of the stroke can cause your knife to bind up as it goes deeper into the wood. If this happens simply
back the knife out of the deep cut and re-cut along the sliver taking a more shallow, thin approach.

chip knife cutting a wooden spoon carving blankCurves can be cut by first creating a series of push cuts towards the center point of the curve. Reverse the spoon blank in your hand and make a second series of push cuts to release the first.

chip knife cutting a wooden spoon carving blank

Work along the sides of the template patterns to free the spoon shape from the blank.

chip knife cutting a wooden spoon carving blankThe bench knife is the slowest – most time consuming – of the four methods to rough cutting your spoon blank, yet it remains my favorite.  A bench knife rough-out can take several hours but for me it is a time spent quietly, and slowly enjoying moving a sharp knife across the wood.

Coping Saw

The coping saw is a great woodworking tool that you can use to quickly reduce your wood blank into your rough cut spoon. The saw hold a scroll saw blade between two widely spaced arms, giving you plenty or room to cut tight, intrigue curves along the edges of your spoon shape.

Using a coping sawCreate a chipboard template of your spoon pattern. Lay the template onto your carving block and using a marking pen.

Four methods to cutting a wood carving spoon blankTo use a coping saw for your rough cut steps you will need to secure your wood blank to a non-moving, non-rocking surface with plenty of open space to work the saw. Around my studio the most solid surface is my porch
railing.

Because the wood blank for this project is thin stock, 1/2” thick, sandwich the wood blank between two scrap basswood boards. This gives the back side of the wood blank added strength during the cutting process and protects the wood blank from clamp marks.

Wrap a wide piece of non-skid kitchen mat around the outside of the wood sandwich. Place the sandwich on your secure surface and clamp into place.

four ways to wood carve a spoon blankCoping saw blades come in a variety of tooth patterns, shapes, and spacing between teeth. A general, all-purpose cutting blade works well for most spoon projects.

At the end of each arm of your coping saw is a small levered screw that can be loosen to open the hole that will hold the end of the saw blade. Set the blade into your coping saw with the blade teeth pointed down or into the cut as you work a push stroke.

four ways to carve a spoon blankThe coping saw cuts on the down stroke and is held at a right angle to your work surface to create as straight a cut wall as possible.

 

cutting a wood spoon blank with a coping sawWhen you have completed cutting one side of your wedding spoon, remove the spoon blank from the clamps and re-position the blank so that you can cut the second side.

 

Draw Knife

The draw knife is a two handled, flexible straight blade that is used to rough cut the spoon shape from your wood blank.  The blade has a chiseled edge that when pulled along the wood blank, working with the wood grain, removes long, thin slices quickly.  I will note here that if you are a walking stick, hiking stick, or cane carver a draw knife becomes a ‘must have’ for easy stick shaping.

using a draw knife for spoon carving

You will need a strong, secure base onto which you can clamp your wood blank during the draw knife session.  Because this is a two-handed grip tool you can put a great deal of power and pressure into each cutting stroke which can rock a light weight table or work bench.

The work bench in my studio is too light weight to handle the power pulls of a draw knife, but the porch rail, just off the back door, has the strength I need so that the energy of each cut goes directly into cutting the blank.

I clamp my wood blank to the top rail with non-skid mats and a clutch bar clamp, about 18″ from the railing corner.  The corner post gives the railing the strength and the 18″ space gives me elbow room to work.

using a draw knife to cut your wood spoon blankThe draw knife works best on wood blanks that have been cut with a straight grain lines that are parallel to the cut edge of the blank.  The long, powerful strokes tend to find and flow with the grain and can pop-out large pieces of wood or split the blank along the grain.

Find and mark the grain direction of your wood blank with a marking pen or dark pencil.  Lay your spoon pattern onto the wood aligned with that grain line.  A draw knife follows the grain of the wood closely.

using a draw knife in wood carvingThe pull stroke, working the cutting edge towards you, is a smooth natural motion that will quickly shape your blank.  Note that I use an opposing hand grip on the handles of the draw knife.  I find that I have more control over the straightness of the stroke and can easily roll the blade over the rounding spoon handle shape evenly.

draw knife wooden spoon blankPush strokes can also be made with a draw knife.  In the photo, above, a push stroke cuts from the handle area into the handle/bowl curved joint.

draw knife wood carvingIf you are working extra-thick wood – 5/4’s and above – or want to cut several spoon blanks at once to later carving, the draw knife makes quick work of the rough-out stage of carving.  The four top spoons, shown above, were all rough cut using a draw knife in one carving session that lasted just a tad bit more than an hour.

 

Scroll Saw

Using a scroll saw to cut your spoon blanks makes creating any rough-cut spoon blank quick and simple. The steps, directions, and instructions to using a scroll saw to cut your carving or pyrography blanks is featured in an in-depth project – Cross Crafting Seminar – an eight page project with free patterns, here on LSIrish.com.

scroll saw cutting a wood spoon blankThe Cross Crafting Seminar is an eight page posting which explores the basics to scroll saw use, how to cut your spoon blanks, and free Lora S Irish patterns for a salad spoon, salad fork, and cut-out Wood Spirit Face.

scroll saw cutting a wood carving spoon blank

Thanks for reading!  Please share this free Lora S. Irish tutorial with your friends, family, and fellow crafters using the buttons below.

 

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving

Styles of Wood Carved Spoons

 

using a draw knife in wood carvingFour Methods for Cutting Your Spoon Blank  Let’s explore the ways in which you can create that rough-cut spoon blank – bench knife, draw knife, coping saw, and scroll saw.  This article includes the links to our Cross Crafting Seminar that takes an in-depth look at using a scroll saw in our wood carving and pyrography projects with three free Lora S. Irish patterns.

 

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingDid you know that there are literally dozens of different styles and designs of wooden spoons, forks, knives, ladles, and spatulas that you can carve with a bench knife, bent round gouge, and a draw knife.  Check out Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving, Traditional Spoon Styles and Shapes. All of the spoons, forks, knives, scoops, and spatulas patterns shown here are available in Lora S. Irish’s newest book – The Art of Spoon Carving – available at Amazon.com.

The Art of Spoon CarvingDiscover why I carve spoons!

The top spoon in this photo, the one that is black with age is between 125 to 100 years old and was my great grandmother Elsie Burchinal’s spoon.  She handed it on to my grandmother, who gave it to my mother, and today it has an honored place in my kitchen spoon jar.

 

The Art of Spoon CarvingThe Art of Spoon Carving

Wood carving is coming back into style, and making kitchen utensils is among the easiest ways to learn the craft. This beautifully illustrated guide by master woodcrafter Lora S. Irish teaches the basics of wooden spoon carving. Perfect for beginners, the book presents 12 step-by-step projects that illustrate a variety of historic carving styles.

A selection of mix-and-match patterns offer suggestions for creating dozens of unique designs for spoons and other implements — forks, ladles, dippers, spatulas, knives, pie servers, and scoops. In addition to clear, detailed directions accompanied by helpful drawings, inspiring photographs illustrate decorative ideas for using the carved spoons in kitchen wreaths, centerpieces, and other ornaments. A great gift for crafters seeking a new hobby, this book is loaded with stylish designs for handmade treasures.

Ready to mix some color?  Learn how to create a full palette range of colors, tones, and pastels using just eight craft paints – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and white.  This Color Wheel Flower project includes a free wood carving, pyrography, gourd art pattern by Lora S. Irish.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood Carving

Traditional Spoon Styles and Shapes

Naturally, I think of a large, medium deep bowled, oval spoon when I think about working a wooden spoon carving project.  But carving spoons is so much more when you consider the huge range of kitchen tools and utensils that can be created with a bent round gouge, a bench knife, and a draw knife.

Let’s explore some of the possible carving projects you can work when you take up spoon carving.  All of the spoons, forks, knives, scoops, and spatulas patterns shown here are available in Lora S. Irish’s newest book – The Art of Spoon Carving – at Amazon.com.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingThe large mixing spoon, above, is as classic and traditional
a spoon style that you can carve.  It has a medium-deep, oval shaped
bowl, with an extra thick handle that can tackle the hardest
dough or batter mix.  The two ears on the back side of the
bowl keep the spoon from rolling when it rests on
on the kitchen counter.

Large Kitchen Spoons

In the photo, below, you will see at the top a wide, flat batter spoon. The bowl area is about 3″ wide and 1/2″ in thickness.  Its total length is 12″ from spoon tip to handle tip.  Acting like a shovel, the wide, flat spoon area lifts and folds large amounts of flour into your bread batter.

The center spoon has an extra deep bowl that measures 2″ wide by 3″ long, which makes it a soup or stirring spoon.  It also is cut from a 12″ long carving wood blank.   The depth of the bowl evenly mixes the carrots, beans, and potatoes in your favorite bean soup recipe.

The paddle spoon, shown at the bottom of the photo, was found in just about every farm house up until the end of the 20th century. It was used to stir the kettle as the apple butter thickened or as the family cook rendered the pork fat for soap making.  Carved from a 5″ wide x 12″ long x 1 1/2″ thick basswood board, this spoon can handle several gallons of apple butter at a time.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingShown above from top to bottom – bread batter spoon,
soup stirring soup, and apple butter paddle.  While I have
worked my spoons from 12″ long blanks, traditionally
this style of spoon could have handles up to 18″ or longer.

Medium Sized Kitchen Spoons

Any of the spoons in the photo below would have been found in your grandmother’s spoon jar.  The first spoon on the left is a dipping spoon.  The medium-sized deep round bowl is perfect for scooping out lard from the can to throw into the cast iron skillet.

Second from the left is a straight-edged spoon that let her scrap the rounded corner of her sauce pans while her puddling thickened on the stove.  That straight cornered bottom edge drops wonderfully against the bottom of the pan and reaches right into the pan’s corner to get every little bit of pudding.

A flour scoop is shown in the center of the photo.  Grandmom could lift spoonfuls of flour, sugar, and even dried barley and then be use to stir the ingredient into her mix.

The fourth spoon is also a scoop that features a wider and lower opening along the front of the spoon’s edge.  The lower scoop profile makes this tool perfect for picking up butter, moist brown sugar, and even molasses.

Our final scoop, shown far right, is a mixing scoop but I use mine to stir and flip hash browns in the iron skillet.  The center portion of the scoop is flat; only the outer edges of the scoop roll and lift above the floor of the skillet.  That profile works well for picking up, and flipping large portions of small cut pieces.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingFrom left to right – dipping spoon, straight-edged spoon,
flour scoop, wet ingredients scoop, and a flipping scoop. 
Traditionally these spoons have bowl areas that are one-third
the total length of the spoon.  These are worked from
1″ x 3″ x 10″ basswood blanks.

Specialty Spoons

Every cook seems to have their favorite specialty spoon in the spoon jar on the stove.  Let’s take a moment and look at just a few.

Slotted spoons are common tools around the kitchen, but this slotted spoon with its single center hole is used to lift pickles or olives from the jar while draining away the juice.  Shown left in the photo, the hole is made by up-ending your favorite large round gouge, and twirling the gouge in a circle until you cut through the bowl.

Oh, that slotted draining spoon today is just perfect for getting the purple-red pickled eggs out of the jar!

The thumb print at the joint of the handle in this wooden blade lets you get a close grip on the knife as you spread the icing on your chocolate cake.  While not common in today’s kitchen, wooden knives were often found in the pre-20th century spoon jar.  My knife sample has a triangular shape which let’s it spread the beaten egg whites evenly over your lemon pudding pie.  Long, rounded-end knives similar to a palette knife were also common and used to scrap along the walls of pickle jars or deep canning crocks.

The center tool in the photo is a fun specialty fork made specifically to lift and turn bacon in the frying pan.  The front edge of the fork is extremely thin, so that it slips under the bacon strip easily.  The center hole that creates the two tines of the fork lets the extra grease drain.

Folding stiffened egg whites into your next salmon soufflé batter is easy with this flat, long oval folding spoon.  Note that in this spoon style the bowl area is one-half or longer than the total length of the spoon to give you lots of extra working room.

Sometime you just need a hard-working spoon that will turn or mix those extremely thick batters.  The spoon, shown far right, is just this type.  Its short handle lets me get a tight grip, close to the batter.  Its extra thick, low sweep bowl stands up to the hard pressure needed to work that last little bit of flour into the bread dough.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingShown from left to right – slotted draining spoon, cake icing knife,
bacon fork, and a thick batter spoon.  All of these are short handled
spoons cut from 1″ x 2-3″ x 8″ basswood blanks.

Specific Purpose Spoons

While most of our wooden spoons, forks, and ladles are made to do a specific task in the kitchen as mixing, draining, measuring, or lifting the spoons in the photo below were created to accommodate specific cans, jars, or kitchen equipment

World War I saw the introduction of mass produced canned food for both the soldiers overseas and the home front.  The top spoon in the photo comes directly from that era and was used to scoop the lard out of the new tins. These tins were wide and low so a short handle easily reached the bottom of the tin and the thick bowl was strong enough to lift the lard.

If you carve no other spoon than the second spoon in this photo every cook that you know will praise your carving skills.  This is an all-purpose oven rack spoon.  The bowl shape can be used to fold, mix, or scoop.  The handle is long enough to use in any sauce pan or deep cooking bowl.  But it is the handle end that is most noteworthy.  The hook on the handle is used to slip over a hot oven rack letting you pull it safely from the oven and the cut half-circle in the end goes against the outer rail of the rack so that you can push that hot rack back into the oven for more baking.  A cook can do just about every job in the kitchen with this one spoon.

Large flat bowls and forks are the hallmark of salad serving spoons.  Because these are lifting spoons, not stirring spoons, their handles easily accept decorative and curved style handles.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingShown top to bottom – lard tin spoon, oven rack spoon,
and a set of modern-styled salad spoons.

Mix & Match Spoon Carving

Once you learn the simple steps to carving your spoon bowl, fork tines, and handles styles you will be ready to create your own unique style of kitchen tools.

This fun set of barbecue and picnic spoons was carved from 1/2” thick by 3” wide by 6” long basswood and took about one hour of carving for each utensil.  Shallow and short, they are perfect to throw on your picnic table, ready to scoop up relish, pickles, and mustard.

These are so fun to make and takes maybe one night’s carving each to create that I quickly found myself with an entire shoe box full of little spoons.  Plus the small size means that you can practice, explore, and experiment with different bowl shapes easily.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingFrom left to right – mayo knife, pickle spoon, sauce spoon,
bean salad spoon, two straight-edges spoons, flipping spatula,
and a lifting spatula. This set of barbecue spoons were worked from
1/2″ x 3″ x 6″ basswood blanks. 

Left & Right Handled Utensils

Curved spoon handles should be adapted to the individual user and the curvature determines which hand holds the spoon. In this photo the two spoons on the left are shaped to fit left handed chiefs who move the spoon in a counter clockwise motion.

The two spoons on the right are made for right handed cooks.  Any curved pattern can be reversed to make it either right or left handed.

Spoon, Fork, and Ladle Styles for Wood CarvingThe curve of the handle and the opening or point of the bowl of
your hand-carved wooden spoon determines whether the utensil is
made for a left or right handed cook.

All of the spoons, forks, knives, scoops, and spatulas patterns shown here are available in Lora S. Irish’s newest book – The Art of Spoon Carving – available at Amazon.com.

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