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The Art of Spoon Carving by Lora S. Irish

The Art of Spoon Carving

One of the first things I did when I began working on this book, The Art of Spoon Carving, was to go to my kitchen spoon jar to look for common spoon bowl and handle shapes. Like many cooks I have a large assortment of oddly shaped spoons, each made for a different purpose and use in the kitchen. Among all the fancy modern spoons stood an old, blackened, broken-edge spoon that has survived nearly one and a half centuries of hard, loving use.

I don’t know if this spoon was factory-made or hand carved because the handle and bowl have become so smoothed from use that all of the cutting and tooling marks have long ago worn off.

The tip of the spoon is charred where it was used to adjust the kindling in the wood stove or used to push a hot griddle off the burner. The left side of the spoon bowl tip has been worn away, so I know that over the years the women that used this spoon were right-handed.

It long ago lost its bright, newly-cut wood look. The bowl is permanently stained to a black-brown tone because of decades of use in creating those wonderful paraffin-topped jars of blackberry jam and and Grandpa’s mulberry wine. The handle is now a deep beige tone from all the years of butter-coated hands.

This spoon was my Great Grandmother Elsie Burchnial Shay’s, wife of George L. Shay, born 1870 in Preston Co., West Virginia – five years after the end of the American Civil War. Like many of us, she could have been using this spoon as young as three, standing on a chair to reach the bowl on the kitchen table, learning to cook from her mother.

It was passed on to my Grandmother and then my mother, and now belongs to me.

My great Grandmother used it through WWI, and the Great Depression. My grandmother used it to make her daughters dinner when her husband was helping to build the Panama Canal and again during WWII. It was still stirring my mother’s starter batter for bread when man first walked on the moon and to make cookies to send to my brother during the Vietnam War.

It sits today in my kitchen spoon jar, ready for the next batch of ham and black bean soup.

As I held that spoon I thought of all the items that have come and gone through my life – expensive power tools that have been retired, furniture that was replaced, fine jewelry and store bought treasures that are no longer in fashion.

While my first computer that cost $3000 in 1997 is long gone, a simple wooden spoon, that around 1870 probably cost less than a penny, has not only survived but been cherished by four generations of women, and is still sitting in my spoon jar.

The Art of Spoon Carving uses this beloved old spoon so that you can learn how to carve your own wooden spoons that will become your family heritage treasures.

The Art of Spoon Carving

Available at

~ Lora Irish

books by Lora S Irish

The Art of Spoon Carving and Leather Burning


Painting a Color Wheel for Pyrography, Gourd Art, and Wood Carving
Painting a Color Wheel  Pyrography, Gourd Art, Wood Carving

Learn how easy it is to mix a full range of tonal values, pure hues, and color shading using just 8 paint colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, white, and black.
Project includes a free Lora S. Irish pattern.
Please SHARE with your family, friends, and fellow crafters !!!!


Yes, I’m shouting … and jumping up and down with joy!

I would never have imagined back in 1995 when I sent my first manuscript, Classic Carving Patterns, to Taunton Press that today I would be holding the 27th and 28th carving-pyrography-pattern books in my hands.

My sincerest thanks to each and every Lora S. Irish reader and fan for allowing me to enjoy such a wonderful career as an author and crafts woman.

The Art of Spoon CarvingThe Art of Spoon Carving
Discover why I carve spoons!

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.

Art of Leather Bu7rning

Art of Leather Burning
New Lora S. Irish Book

Legendary wood and leather crafter Lora Susan Irish focuses solely on leather pyrography techniques and projects for the first time in this book. She presents instructions for a dozen easy-to-make projects, including jewelry, wallets, journals, and belts, in a spectacular array of patterns ranging from American West and Celtic motifs to wildlife and tattoo-inspired imagery. The completed projects are perfect for gift-giving or personal use.

Moving from tools and supplies to pyrography and leather crafting basics; pattern techniques; leather selection; and the projects themselves, the book includes detailed, step-by-step directions with full-color photographs. Sidebars and tips offer helpful hints. This invaluable guide is ideal for experienced crafters as well as those who wish to acquire leather-crafting and leather-burning skills.

Browse the full listing of Lora S. Irish books.

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

Carving a Wooden Spoon

wood caving the wooden spoonThe classic wooden spoon may be the easier beginner’s wood carving project there is.  During this session of our free, summer cross-crafting seminar we will work through the wood carving steps to shape the handle and bowl of a wooden fork.

Cross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Cutting a Wooden Spoon

Cross-Crafting Seminar, Carving a Wooden Spoon


1 – scroll saw cut wooden spoon, slotted spoon, or fork blank
wide sweep round gouge
narrow, half-circle, bent round gouge
bench knife or chip carving knife
carving gloves, thumb guard, or heavy terry cloth towel
150-, 220-grit sandpaper
6″ or large square of brown paper bag

wood carving a wooden spoon

Note: Working with the wood grain


wood caving the wooden spoon
As you work through the carving steps for this wooden fork you will need to pay close attention to the wood grain direction in each area of your work.  Both the handle and bowl of your wooden spoon are curve-shaped.  This means that at the widest point in the curve the direction of your cutting strokes must be reversed to work the knife or gouge blade with the grain. The grain direction of your wooden spoon blank determines the directions of your bench knife and gouge strokes.  You want to move the knife so that it runs with the open fiber ends of the wood grain, not into those open fibers.

Step 1: Rough-cut the edges of the handle along the back of the spoon.

wood carving a wooden spoon

Begin with your bench knife and using a paring stroke, pulling the knife blade towards you, round over the back edge of the lower section of the spoon bowl.  I am using carving gloves in these photos.  Gloves are cut resistant not cut proof!  So, please, watch carefully how you are holding your knife and where the knife blade will go if the knife slips out of the cut.  Often, I carve using thumb guards instead of gloves as they give me more movement in my hands.  If you have neither, use a thick terry-cloth towel in your holding hand as protection.

Step 2:  Rolling small cut strokes along the edge of the handle.

wood carving a wooden spoon
The sides are round by making many, small paring strokes, worked from the inside area of the handle, moving each new cut slowly towards the edge of the handle.  This first series of rounding paring cuts is worked from the center point of the handle towards the top edge of the handle.

wood carving a wooden spoonYou can see the progression of small cuts in this photo. Using a series of small cuts, worked from the center back towards the spoon’s edge creates a true curved edge instead of a lightly rounded sharp corner.

Step 3: Round over the second lower edge of the back of the handle.

wood carving a wooden spoon

Continue working the lower edge of the back of the handle by moving your cutting strokes to the second side of the spoon.  The smaller your cutting strokes the smoother the finished edge will be.

Step 4: Work the back handle edge towards the fork’s bowl area with your bench knife.

wood carving a wooden spoon

This rounding process is moved to the front portion of the back of the handle.  To work with the grain line of the wood, these cuts are made using a push stroke – pushing the knife blade away from you.

Step 5: Change the direction of your bench knife cuts to match the change in grain direction at the narrow joint between the handle and bowl.

wood carving a wooden spoon

Use a series of short, small bench knife cuts, worked from the center area of the handle towards its outer edge to round over the handle.  Stop your cuts where the handle narrows into the fork’s bowl area, as your wood grain direction will change at this point in the blank.

Step 6: Free the cutting strokes at the narrow joint.

wood carving a wooden spoon
Flip your spoon blank in your hand so that you are working the knife from the fork’s bowl area into the narrow joint with the handle.  This will bring the cuts from step 6 to meet the cuts you are making now, and free those cuts from the narrow area.

Step 7: Finish rounding over the edge of the back by working the fork’s bowl area.

wood carving a wooden spoon
Continue rounding over the back edge of the fork by working the bowl area with your bench knife.

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

Cutting a Wooden Spoon

wood carving a wooden spoonFor this section of our summer, free, online cross-crafting seminar we will be cutting out a wooden spoon blank on the scroll saw.  Please refer to Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns for a copy of the spoon patterns that we will be using.

Cross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Cutting a Wooden Spoon


Scroll Saw with a 15 tooth, regular cutting blade
1 – 3″ x 12″ x 3/8″ piece of basswood for each spoon
220-grit sandpaper, tack cloth
graphite tracing paper
safety glasses

Step 1: Choosing how to rough-cut your spoon blank

There are many ways to remove the waste wood from any wood carving blank.  For our seminar I am using my Ryobi Scroll Saw and a 15 tooth per inch, regular cutting blade.

wood carving a wooden spoon

The most simple option is to use your bench knife in either a push or paring stroke to slowly cut away long slivers of wood from the blank.  A coping saw or hand-held, u-shaped framed saw and a vise or clamps can also be used.  If you plan to make a series of wooden spoons you might want to purchase a small 5″ curved-blade draw knife  or 3″ straight-blade draw knife will make the rough-put work quick and easy, especially on thicker blanks.

Step 2: Preparations

wood carving a wooden spoon
Lightly sand your basswood board, both front and back side, using 220-grit sandpaper, remove any sanding dust with a dry, clean cloth.  A smooth surface on the wood allows your blank to move easily through the scroll saw cuts. Trace your pattern to the basswood using graphite paper.

Note: If you will be making more than one spoon, trace the pattern to the inside surface of an empty cereal box.  Cut the spoon pattern out with scissor and use the cardboard cut-out as a template, tracing along the edges of the cardboard.  Save the cardboard template, it can be used over and over again.

Release the Drop Foot and slide your basswood blank under the foot.  Reset the Drop Foot knob.

Step 3: Cutting the basic outline

wood carving a wooden spoon
Begin by cutting along the basic outline of your spoon pattern.

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon
Work one side of the spoon at a time, fully releasing and freeing that side of waste wood.

Step 4: Cut the second side of your spoon

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

Continue your scroll saw cutting to completely remove the waste wood on the second side of your spoon blank.

Step 5: Cutting the fork tines

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

The fork tines are cut in two strokes, each worked from the end of the fork into the opening between the tines.  Stop the first cut when you reach the center point of the opening.

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon
Back the saw blade out of the wood and cut the second side of the opening.  This two-cut step will free the waste wood between the tines.

Step 6: The completed scroll saw cut spoon blank

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

This wooden fork blank took about 15 minutes to cut out on the scroll saw – quick, easy, and super fast!

Step 7: Drilling the holes for a slotted spoon

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon
Using a 1/4″ or 3/8″ drill bit drill the holes into your slotted spoon before you do the scroll saw steps.  I prefer to drill from the back of the spoon towards the spoon’s front face.  Because I will be carving the front face of the spoon into a bowl shape, if I chip-out any of the holes during the drilling process, those chip-outs will be carved away later in the work.

Basswood chips easily because it is a soft wood.  To avoid excessive chip-outs use a new, sharp drill bit and an even medium speed with your drill.  Clamp your spoon blank to a piece of scrap wood.  This clamps and secures the back grain fibers and reduces chipping.  You can also use masking tape on the bottom of your spoon to help hold the grain fibers in place.

Step 8: Sand the drilled holes before you do the scroll saw cutting

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

Remove any loose or chipped-out wood from your drilled holes, on both sides of the wood blank, before you move onto the scroll saw with sand paper.  Those chip-outs can cause your blank to drag, or hang-up on the scroll saw cutting table.

Step 9: Cutting a slotted spoon blank

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

The slotted spoon is now ready for scroll sawing.

Step 10:  Finished wooden spoon blanks

Wood Carving a Wooden Spoon

Now that the three wooden spoon blanks have cut out we are ready to move into the wood carving steps of our project.  See ya’ there!

Welsh Love Spoon Carving

Welsh Love Spoons

free Welsh Love Spoon patternWelsh Love Spoons have long been a favorite carving theme for wood carvers.  Tradition says that this original art style for wood carving came from the seamen of the British Isles that brought small pieces of wood and a carving knife with them on their ocean voyages to fill the long hours.  Many of the designs and patterns were symbolic of the sailor’s love of home and family, but they also used some of our favorite whittling trick carvings as the ball and chain or ball in the cage.
Today any relief carving pattern can become the design for the handle of your Welsh Love Spoon.  For my sample I chose a simple grape design with a double stem that wraps around the spoon handle.  With another upcoming stormy weekend it seems like a perfect time to share my carving and pattern for you to enjoy.

For your Free Welsh Love Spoon Pattern Pack by Lora Irish, please visit our wood carving,  & pyrography patterns website,
Art Designs Studio.

To learn more about Welsh Love Spoon carving, please visit Lora S. Irish’s free online tutorials.

Welsh Love Spoons Tutorial:
Welsh Love Spoons Introduction
Basic Cutting Techniques
Open Linked Chain
Ball and Cage

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