How to Make a Wooden Spoon

These materials lists, instructions and tips will help you make unique, hand-carved wooden spoons.


| November/December 1978



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Stop by a lumber yard or high school woodshop to ask for free wood scraps to use when making spoons.


PHOTO: LEE H. ARTEN

There's something special about handmade wooden spoons, some quality that lifts them head-and-shoulders above the cheap imported utensils which line the shelves of discount supermarkets. Perhaps the value of these carefully crafted cooking and eating tools stems from the bond that they create between the carver who shapes the wood and the generations of cooks who will dip and stir with it. Unfortunately, such fine hardwood kitchen utensils are hard to come by in this day and age. But you can learn how to make a wooden spoon of your own.

To bridge this "supply gap," I've been making wooden spoons at home for the past few years. I got my start at the craft when I carved a scoop for one Kathleen Alatalo ... before she became Kathleen Arten.

At the time I didn't plan to make more than the single crude (though heartfelt) gift. And, once I'd decided to attempt that first carving project, I pawed through my dad's scrap lumber pile and found a piece of hard maple—about 18" long, 4" wide, and 1-1/2" thick—which seemed to have a spoon inside just waitin' to be carved. In order to try to "second guess" the hunk of lumber, I drew a narrow oval bowl and a tapered handle on one side of the board, and a slightly different spoon on another of its surfaces. Then I chose the shape that best "fit" the maple's grain ... and started to work on it.

Of course, my initial wood carving experience produced a stove-top tool that was far from perfect ... with a knife slip here, a rough rasp mark there, and so forth. In fact, now and then I think about redoing that original spoon ... but I always wind up deciding against it. After all, the thing works well enough, and It's kind of a monument to my apprenticeship at this "hobby." I'll never make those same mistakes again (and, after reading this article, you shouldn't have to make them at all).

Spoon Making Materials

A supply of hardwood (I use red oak and maple) is, of course, the first requirement for spoon carving. You should be able to scrounge all of this lumber that you'll need from high school and college shop classes, furniture factories, or local lumberyards. These outfits often discard "spoon-sized" scraps, so they're not likely to charge you for 'em. At least, I've never had to pay for my materials.

You'll also need a few basic tools ... though how many you require will depend upon your talent and patience. I use a wood rasp, a good pocketknife (it must take and hold a keen edge), an X-Acto handle with a replaceable gouge blade coarse and fine sand paper, and a handsaw. The latter isn't absolutely necessary, but it sure comes in handy once in a while.

robhalin
6/29/2016 2:04:49 AM

I am Sharing my personal experience about one of the wood working plan i am using for my project. it contains all woodworking plans include workbench plans, shed plans, chair ... blueprints and detailed instructions for building all kinds of wooden, check out here to download the wood working plans ( http://www.healthandrich.com/1Woods ) All the best have a great day


davidspassage
1/6/2015 7:28:56 PM

Here's a simple way to carve a spoon with only a knife. No other tools needed: http://youtu.be/msunwm-MRaA


rob moppin
1/27/2013 9:44:16 PM

Walnut should not be used.


mary goodson
1/25/2013 4:39:17 PM

I read that some wood types can be poisonous. Do you know anything about that?


keomaccaffrey
4/2/2007 12:00:39 AM

Thank you so much for this article about the spoons. I really enjoyed it! I am a spoon carver as well, and this story just touched my heart! Thank you! Keoma McCaffrey Northern California






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