I decided to try my hand at spoon carving using the power tools I had available in the shop. In this quick and easy beginner woodworking project, my wife and I made 3 super useful kitchen spoons.
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For this project, I wanted to use a leftover piece of wood my grandad had in the basement. I found a large piece of basswood from an old tree that he cut down many years ago. The piece was rather large, I could get three utensils from the bulk material. After cutting it into three separate pieces, I drew out the top-down shapes of the spoons; a slotted spoon, a ladle, and a spork (spoon-fork combo).
You could use any number of tools to cut the outer shapes, but a bandsaw seemed to be the most efficient. I cut on the outside of the profiles, making sure to leave room for sanding later. After doing this, I was left with really tall, extruded spoon shapes. I turned the cut pieces on their sides and continued to rough shape the spoons using the bandsaw. The handles got slimmed down, and the spoon heads were rounded on the bottom.
For the spork, I cut in the small slits on the spoon face. Unlike a fork, these indentions are short and don’t run the length of the spoon head. For the slotted spoon, I used the drill press to add some drainage holes to the spoon face.
Now that the spoons have a rough shape, they need to be smoothed out and the concave bowl added to the spoon’s head. There are specific hand tools and carving knives that are meant to create this area, but again, I don’t have any. But I do have some wood carving attachments for my angle grinder. I used a ball carving gouge and a turbo plane cutting head to hog out most of the concave shape.
I’m not very experienced with these tools, so my curves and contours were a little rough. To soften out those shapes, I used a combination of sanding devices; the belt sander, the random orbital sander, and many, many sanding blocks. My wife carved the ladle herself, and she was able to get a much more consistent and organic shape using these machines than I did. This step is where the spoon comes together, so be patient and go slow.
My wife and I were happy with our spoons, I had the right shapes for a spork and a slotted spoon and she had a beautiful ladle. All of the utensils were usable in their current state, but adding some finish would help protect them in the future. Rather and using a urethane-based varnish, I decided to cover the spoons in a food-safe butcher block oil. This pre-mixed blend is commercially available and is made of different drying oils and conditioners, but is safe to use around food.
Making your own kitchen utensils is a quick and easy woodworking project that is really satisfying. If there is a spoon, spatula, or ladle that you have that doesn’t quite work the way you would like, this is a chance to add that extra bit of functionality to your kitchen. As previously mentioned, there is a whole set of craftsman that make spoons with simple hand tools if you don’t have, or don’t want to invest in, power tools. The point being, that there are so many ways to execute a vision you have for a project, so don’t wait…go make something.