Friday, February 28, 2014

Steam Bent Eating Spoon.

I've gone crazy for spoon carving again recently.  My shop mate and I started a once monthly spoon carving night in our workshop for friends and acquaintances to stop by and learn to carve spoons.  One of the reasons that we wanted to do this was to inspire both of us to make more spoons.  It has worked.  Zach has carved enough spoons to outfit five armies, and I've finished a couple myself, but this is the one that I am most excited about.

It is an eating spoon, about 8 inches long, carved from a steam bent blank.  I will write more about the process in the future, but for now I just want to show some pictures of a finished spoon.

I sand the bowl and sometimes the upper portion of the handle, but the rest of the spoon is straight from the knife.  I have more fun carving spoons than doing just about anything else.

Dan Farnbach at Popular Woodworking interviewed me a couple of weeks ago about the tools that I make and I went on a little tirade about my deep and abiding love of spoon carving.

Here is the link: Chairmaking Tools that Feel and Work Right.


  1. Beautiful spoon. Dan's interview (you) encouraged me to carve spoons too. I haven't done anything quite as inspiring as this spoon of yours. Mine too are supposed to be eating spoons but I find it challenging to get a shape that feels good in the mouth. Also holding the spoon while carving is a challenge.

    Please let us know more about your work, for instance what type of wood is that, the rays kinda look like Maple; just how green was it when you started shaping, etc.?

    1. Al,

      I'm thrilled to think that I played even a small part in someone starting to carve spoons.

      I will write a more detailed post about how I carved the spoon, but for now I will just offer the steps.

      - I started with a green red maple log.
      - Split and shaved a rectangular blank at the shaving horse.
      - Steamed the blank and bent it.
      - Allowed the blank to sit in the form over night.
      - Removed the clamps the next day and carved it before it had a chance to dry.
      -Let it dry in a paper bag for a day or two and then finish carve and sand the bowl.

      I did all of the carving with a sloyd knife and hollowed the bowl with a gouge. One nice thing about carving this way is that there is very little wood to remove once the blank is bent. Easiest spoon I have made in a long time. Curtis Buchanan came up with this method about two years ago. It took me this long to finally try it.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Jarrod. Shaving and bending the blank gives a you the perfect spoon shaped piece of wood with all the fibers going exactly where you want them. It felt like all the wood that wasn't spoon just fell away.

  3. There is a great old clip of a Swedish spoon carver using an adze to form the bowl, have you tried your adze for this purpose yet?

  4. I have and it is a little awkward. One thing that I have learned from all of my time spent playing with and adjusting adze cutting geometry is that an adze is always a compromise between competing factors. In other words, an adze that excels at carving the wide sweeping curves of windsor chair seats, probably won't excel at carving the tiny bowl of a spoon and vice versa.

    Inspired by that video and because I was curious, I made an adze that carves spoons well. I used one of my adze blades and made a different handle to give me the cutting geometry that I wanted. It works great, but I wouldn't want to carve a chair seat or a large bowl with it. Unfortunately adzes are always a compromise.

    I am actually playing around with a couple of other ways to quickly hollow spoon bowls with more control than the adze. I will write about it if anything very interesting happens or as the ideas begin to take on a more refined form.

    I love that Swedish video.

  5. Tim,

    I am going to have to try that. Great idea that you are passing on. Thanks!

    1. Caleb,

      Talk to Curtis next time you see him. He told me a year or so ago that he was bending spoon blanks. I am sure he has some examples of spoons that he has bent and carved in the house.

      If you don't have the new Wille Sundqvist DVD and his reprinted book, order them as soon as you can. Del Stubbs has a slightly reduced price for the pair. Reading his book was how I first learned to carve spoons, and the new video is as personally inspiring as it is technically inspiring. Probably more personally inspiring for me.