• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • Greg Martin
  • Leigh Tate

My journey into spoon-making

 
pioneer
Posts: 72
Location: Japan
23
hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I started trying to carve spoons a while back but discovered I wasn't getting very far for lack of a good work-holding solution. I remedied that by recently finishing my shave-horse (highly recommended for anyone interested in green woodworking).

I have a few fruit trees that need perennial pruning. This past year produced a lot of branches that were big enough to be carved into spoons and other utensils.

I am an amateur and I'm learning as I go and from watching on-line videos, reading articles, etc. I want to share some of what I learn in the process in this thread, to maybe save others some time by learning from my mistakes, though some mistakes you just have to make yourself to really understand.

Before I had a shaving horse I learned:
  • Small dry wood is almost impossible to carve safely without some kind of work-holding apparatus.
  • Sharp tools make a big difference.
  • Wood grain direction is hard to read until you cut into it.
  • Wood grain direction changes unexpectedly around the different layers of wood and on different sides of a branch


  • After I started using a shaving horse
  • You need to leave some extra wood on the front and back of the spoon to hold onto it easily in the horse/vice - there's a name for this, but I don't remember it.
  • You don't need a hook knife to make most spoons, but you do need a gouge.
  • Curves make work holding awkward, if the part you want to carve is floating it's really hard to cut into. If it has something behind it it's safer and easier to cut too.
  • Curved blades are a bit difficult to sharpen - specifically you need to make a jig to sharpen them, though apparently you only need to sharpen the flat (non-beveled) side.
  • Most spoons are a lot shallower than I thought.
  • It's a lot easier to remove a lot of material with an axe than a knife - get it done with the right tool to save time.
  • Using a knife like what I have pictured can be really versatile - the narrow part of the blade can cut the outside curves of the spoon very well.
  • Taking very thin slices with a knife makes it easy to avoid tear-out, even when going against the grain.


  • I will post pictures of some of my spoons as I finish them.




    kogatana.jpg
    [Thumbnail for kogatana.jpg]
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Updating with some progress pics.

    When I picked the chunk of wood I was hoping I'd be able to carve a ladle out of the crook, but I found the wood full of ants and had to cut off so much that I only had enough left to make a spoon...
    IMG_20210106_114237649_HDR.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210106_114237649_HDR.jpg]
    IMG_20210106_114336008_HDR.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210106_114336008_HDR.jpg]
    IMG_20210106_124314643.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210106_124314643.jpg]
    IMG_20210106_134149461.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210106_134149461.jpg]
    IMG_20210111_092648807.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210111_092648807.jpg]
     
    Posts: 56
    Location: Northern Ontario, Canada
    28
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Even with the ant setback your spoon looks beautiful! And thank you for posting all those tips - I just learned about the sharp tools one today. My pocket knife isn't so sharp and it's making carving the dip in the spoon quite challenging. Gonna sharpen it tomorrow and have another go. Again great work!
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator

    Cam Haslehurst wrote:Even with the ant setback your spoon looks beautiful! And thank you for posting all those tips - I just learned about the sharp tools one today. My pocket knife isn't so sharp and it's making carving the dip in the spoon quite challenging. Gonna sharpen it tomorrow and have another go. Again great work!



    Thanks for the kind words. The pattern is a result of leaving both white sapwood and brown heartwood in the final product. I'm a little worried they will crack apart as it dries more, but if I get it done and saturated with oil that might not happen... I really don't know.

    I've been pondering a way to smooth the bowls of the spoons without ruining my thumb from sanding for two hours... I'm considering making a rounded sanding block, but it seems like many spoon carvers use curved scrapers. I should probably learn to sharpen a scraper one day anyway...
     
    Cam Haslehurst
    Posts: 56
    Location: Northern Ontario, Canada
    28
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator

    Lew Johnson wrote:

    Cam Haslehurst wrote:Even with the ant setback your spoon looks beautiful! And thank you for posting all those tips - I just learned about the sharp tools one today. My pocket knife isn't so sharp and it's making carving the dip in the spoon quite challenging. Gonna sharpen it tomorrow and have another go. Again great work!



    Thanks for the kind words. The pattern is a result of leaving both white sapwood and brown heartwood in the final product. I'm a little worried they will crack apart as it dries more, but if I get it done and saturated with oil that might not happen... I really don't know.

    I've been pondering a way to smooth the bowls of the spoons without ruining my thumb from sanding for two hours... I'm considering making a rounded sanding block, but it seems like many spoon carvers use curved scrapers. I should probably learn to sharpen a scraper one day anyway...



    Yeah oil should help out with the drying process. I've got no idea how to sharpen curved blades yet either but it shouldn't be too bad to learn how to do it.
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I finished sanding the two spoons yesterday. I've also been trying to find evidence one way or another on how dangerous the toxins in peach wood are, to no clear conclusion. I did however find that they are highly present in the bark, leaves, roots, and fruit pits... so I've decided to not use these spoons for actually eating, which is a bit of a pity. But they were really good practice.

    The wood is good for carving, so maybe I'll use it to make small figurines or other art objects.
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I don't like giving up for lack of information, so I asked my chemist friend about how to test for and remove amygdalin in my spoons. Amygdalin is the substance that breaks down into cyanide and sugar in the human digestive system.

    He gave me some information on both testing (more complicated) and removal (mostly just boiling in 190 proof alcohol). There are some safety issues involved, so I'm not ready to post the process he detailed here. It does produce some dangerous gasses which means it probably needs to be done under a proper ventilation hood, which I don't have. Might be alright to do outside, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost for two spoons.
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I was looking through the wood I've pruned this past season for something unarguably food safe and discovered some hefty pieces of Japanese maple. I had just dropped them where I pruned them because the tree was infested with ants, as many of my trees are. But I decided to split the biggest cuttings and see if there was enough wood for spoons. And what to my wondering eyes did I see? Fairly beautiful spoons waiting to be released from the wood!

    I expect it will be a more challenging job to carve than the peach wood, but at least I won't have to worry about cyanide poisoning!
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    This maple is still green and surprisingly wonderful to carve!

    IMG_20210116_085620940.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210116_085620940.jpg]
    IMG_20210116_091900829_HDR.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210116_091900829_HDR.jpg]
    IMG_20210116_110116266_HDR.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210116_110116266_HDR.jpg]
    IMG_20210116_120619217_HDR.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210116_120619217_HDR.jpg]
    IMG_20210116_134109278.jpg
    [Thumbnail for IMG_20210116_134109278.jpg]
     
    Lew Johnson
    pioneer
    Posts: 72
    Location: Japan
    23
    hugelkultur trees cooking woodworking
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
      Number of slices to send:
      Optional 'thank-you' note:
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I've been thinking about spoon angles.

    Most of the wooden spoons I see pictures of on the internet are mostly just straight or flat with no angle between the bowl and handle. This seems like bad ergonomics to me, but I haven't tried eating with one like this.

    The stainless steel spoons I use have a fairly steep angle. The plastic spoon my wife likes using (modeled after a traditional Japanese spoon) has a big curve in it. This is the spoon I'm copying for the maple spoon in the previous post.

    I feel like I need to try eating with spoons that have a dozen different angles to see what I really need to be making.

    I was wondering if there are any guides to spoon design... and I found this short article by a woodworker: https://pinewoodforge.com/spoon-designing/

    In it there is a very useful bit I will quote here:

    What is the purpose for the bend in the bowl of your spoon blanks?

    What a great question, and in 20 some years I have never been asked it!
    Common metal eating spoons range from as little as 5 degrees to as much as 25 degrees – handle to bowl angle. In our eating spoon blanks I chose about 15 degrees, however they are considerably thicker than is needed for a finished spoon – giving much latitude to the carver. There has to be some angle and drop to the spoon bowl – relative to the handle – in order to dip down into a bowl or plate and still lift something up. Take a good luck at the metal spoons you are perhaps used to eating with to observe both the drop and angle. Also, most metal spoons can be bent, so try bending one to different angles to gain an opinion of what angle to use for which type of spoon. Serving spoons can have as much as 70 degrees, cooking spoon as little as 5 degrees. Of course, as soon as one gets much past 15 degrees its especially preferable to use a bent branch so the grain follows the curve.



    I was vaguely aware there were strength issues... but I don't usually dig into anything that will break a wooden spoon... so as long as the walls of the bowl aren't too tall or thin I have a hard time imagining much breaking happening.

     
    There is no "i" in denial. Tiny ad:
    Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
    https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
    reply
      Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic