Introduction: DIY: Hand-carved Wooden Spoons

Picture of DIY: Hand-carved Wooden Spoons

Easy tutorial on how to make your own gorgeous hand-carved wooden spoon.

Step 1:

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  • A piece of wood. Walnut is used for this tutorial, but any hard wood will do since they carve very nicely and can withstand pressure on the handle, which means they won't snap.
  • Carving tools: carving knife and spoon gouges (which can be purchased at Lee Valley).
  • Sandpaper of various grit size (320, 180, and 120 grit).
  • Pencil
  • Wood rasp (nice to have, but not necessary).
  • Small rag and food-safe oil.

Step 2:

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With your pencil, draw a spoon shape on your piece of wood then cut the shape out with a band saw. (If you don’t have access to a saw, you can also purchase spoon blanks.)

Step 3:

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With the spoon gouge, begin to carve away in the center of the spoon.

I suggest not carving too deep right away — a spoon doesn’t need to be very deep if you plan on just using it as a stirring spoon. If it’s easier, you can clamp down the spoon to a table and carve away with the gouge. Or just hold the spoon with one hand then slowly carve away with the other.

Note: the blades on the gouges are extremely sharp, so be careful (and prepared for a few nicks and cuts).

Step 4:

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Once you have the inside roughly carved out, use a pencil to draw the shape you want on the side of the spoon to the outer edge and back.

Carve away with your carving knife on the side and back. Save working on the handle until the very end.

A lot of pressure is put on the handle while you carve the center and outer edges of the spoon, so you need to keep the handle as sturdy and strong as possible.

Step 5:

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Now you can begin to carve the handle to make your desired shape. Work from the spoon bowl side to the end of the handle. Take away little strips and avoid trying to dig too deep. This will give you more control over the look of the handle.

If you have a rasp, you can also start to shape the handle with it. A rasp can help to get a rounded edge, but you can also just use your carving knife.

Step 6:

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Continue to work more on creating a smooth inner bowl with your spoon gouges. Again, try to carve small amounts at a time. The fewer deep ridges in the inner spoon surface the better — it will mean less sanding!

Step 7:

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Now you can begin smoothing the edges and bowl with your sandpaper. You’ll want to use the roughest paper first, then move to the smoother grit papers.

Step 8:

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Add some food-safe oil to a small rag and begin to oil your spoon. There are many different oils that can be used.

You may choose to steer clear of petroleum-based oils and use vegetable oils. (Although olive oil isn't a good choice because it can go rancid quickly.) Some use sesame oil or walnut oil. Tung oil was used for this tutorial.

Note: The source of tung oil is a nut, so people with severe nut allergies should choose a different oil for finishing their spoons.

Once the spoon is oiled, you need to let it cure. The time allowed really depends on which type of oil you have chosen.

Step 9:

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Take a moment and sit back to admire your lovely, hand-crafted work. Then, start on another one!  

Once you're done, share photos on our Facebook and Pinterest, we'd love to see how yours turned out!


pjkumpon made it! (author)2017-11-26

Thanks for this amazing Instructable. It inspired me to order some spoon carving knives and give this a try - which has turned into a new hobby - all thanks to you!

WoodB1 (author)2016-03-18

If you have a lathe, you can turn a blank for two spoons. Then you cut with a bandsaw and hollow it.

twighahn (author)2016-03-17

Not basic tools

King-solo2 (author)2016-03-15

Great job reminds me of my dad and his talents! I think I might try this thanks to you.

jolj1. (author)2016-03-11

Good job!

did you only use hand tools as a standard or are you just getting started in in woodworking. I am old & have collected a few large tools over the years, you can use a band saw & a drill press with a forstner bits to speed things up.

Of course, if you like the slow hand process, then that fine too.

vwtdi (author)2016-03-10

Check out the spoon carving knives at They are the best I've ever tried.

Edgar (author)2013-10-14

Would you believe here in the 4th Reich, the Brussels Bureaucrats outlawed the use of Wooden Spoons in Europe, in Restaurants?

Went a description of this, with a Link to here, to my blog:

BossyRangs (author)Edgar2016-03-10

Ridiculous! Studies have shown that wooden cutting boards are better than plastic ones. Bacteria cannot survive long on wood.

Edgar (author)BossyRangs2016-03-10

They also said people would die of splinters from the wood. Beaureocrats.

jsollien (author)2016-03-10

Very nice! There is nothing like the satisfaction of creating something beautiful, with your bare hands, out of a piece wood.

I'ld add a "curved scraper" to the tool set. One could be made out of an old saw blade, that way you could get the right diameter. Great instructable!

guitarpicker7 (author)2013-10-13

Good project! Took me back to my high school woodshop days- I made dozens of spoon and fork sets, with the occasional salad bowel. %-)

Then I got a router...

Templates, a router guide, and some cove bits reduced my working time to about 15 minutes. Hit it with some sandpaper, start with 90 grit and go up to 400 grit. Lastly, wipe on a few coats of mineral oil = done under an hour!

I sometimes incorporated a flat area on the handle and put the family's initial there- looked rather nice!

Keep the ideas cooking!!

guaps (author)guitarpicker72013-10-14

Let's see it! Make an instructable for the power tool version of the spoons. I'd love to see it and learn how.

FlorinJ (author)guaps2016-03-10

Power tool version of the spoon ... you mean motorized spoons? :-D

Would love to see an instructable on making spoons with a router/guide...

mdeblasi1 (author)guitarpicker72013-10-13

I have a router too!
Clearly I am going to have to
A: learn to use it, and
2: Figure out how it relates to this project!

Once you start using a router you'll be hooked, it can do so many things.

alala5 (author)2015-12-22

sometimes it just has to be wood. and chopsticks only go so far :D

nacira (author)2015-12-22

well done .How long did it take you to make one spoon?

jayne15 (author)2015-12-16

Ice cream is always nicer with a small wooden spoon. I'm more sure why.

clubmanualidades (author)2015-12-11

thanks :D

Vidar_76 (author)2013-11-04

Nice spoons!

I usually use a spoonknife like this: they make the job quite easy.

nocode54 (author)2013-11-03

Scrapers, made from thick pieces of tempered sheet metal, are excellent for shaping the inside of the bowl. The economy ones work just fine for me and can be purchased very inexpensively online.

nocode54 (author)2013-11-03

Excellent article!
I use maple as it grows in abundance in this part of the country. When dry, hardwoods are extremely difficult to carve with hand tools. I did some research and found that some bowl turners use green (fresh,wet) wood for their projects then speed dry it in a microwave. Green wood is MUCH easier to carve. Tip: if you are going to dry your wood in the microwave, do so cautiously and slowly. Use short microwaving times and check your piece often.

guaps (author)2013-10-14

What does letting the oil cure do? What is the approximate cure time? You said it depends on the oil you choose, but are we talking a few hours or a few days?

Great instructable. Thanks for sharing!

cdelichte (author)guaps2013-10-25

Oiling the wood basically protects it. Some oils only need a couple days to cure, like citrus oil. Others can be longer, it all depends on the oil that you choose to use. I am going to look into using beeswax also. From the 'how to's' I've seen before, they make it from a mix of beeswax and olive oil. I am going to see if I can use another vegetable oil instead. I've read that olive oil goes rancid quickly, not sure if it is more stable when mixed with beeswax. If I find any info I will post it on this thread. Good luck!!

cdelichte (author)cdelichte2013-10-25

Just found this if you're interested...
mix of beeswax, coconut oil and rosemary. I think it would smell amazing! (and protect the spoons of course!)

guaps (author)cdelichte2013-10-25

Thank you!

mdeblasi1 (author)2013-10-13

I just rescued some walnut from the fire-pit today!

aristide202 (author)2013-10-13

Thumbs up. Nice inspiring instructable and nice spoons too. Anyway I would give a look at draw knives, scrapers, spokeshaves and spoon carving dedicated knives in wood working catalogs. Scandinavian spoon knives are quite hard to find, or make, but curved scrapers are easy to find , or make , and keeping sharp and amazingly fast and a leave a silky smooth finish on hard and soft woods

Cometeer (author)2013-10-10

I'm trying to gouge the spoon with a chisel, but it is taking forever. Any tips on what tools to use to make the process go faster. I'm using black walnut.

ArtisanEclectic (author)Cometeer2013-10-13

Start in the center and work your way out. Try not to take too much at once. Small cuts and thin shavings are best. Learn to sharpen. Dull tools won't cut and encourage forcing. If you are forcing your tool you aren't doing it right.

cdelichte (author)Cometeer2013-10-11

I would try to use a spoon gouge. There are a few different sizes they come in - different widths and depths. Initially it may seem a bit hard to do, but once you get started the layers carve away quickly. Make sure that the tools are sharp also, this makes a big difference. good luck!

pfred2 (author)Cometeer2013-10-10

The fastest thing I could think of would be to freehand the bowl with a cove bit in a plunge router. You probably want to carve the bowl first while the blank is still a board, then make the handle all thin and stuff.

pfred2 (author)pfred22013-10-10

Maybe I'm thinking of a core box bit. It is a round nosed bit.

astral_mage (author)Cometeer2013-10-10

worse case use a dremal ,. best case go to yr local wood working tool supply house an buy the tool u need.

Jeanette56 (author)2013-10-13

I am so thrilled to see your Instructable! This is probably the best set of instructions I've seen on making your own spoons and I can't wait to try it. Thank you So Much for sharing! P.S. I live in TX so mine will be made of Mesquite :-)

KaydeeKrunk (author)2013-10-11

This is so cool, I've always wanted to make my own spoons, I've always wanted to try the burning coal method, where you put a burning coal in it to hollow out the bowl of the spoon.

cdelichte (author)KaydeeKrunk2013-10-13

I hadn't heard about this before, and just looked it up. Looks pretty neat - maybe you can do a combination of methods, thanks!

astral_mage (author)2013-10-10

please post a link 4 the chart of curing tymes if u can find it..

cdelichte (author)astral_mage2013-10-11

Sorry, I don't have a chart to post. The best thing is to google a specific oil you wish to choose, the curing times all vary :)

pfred2 (author)astral_mage2013-10-10

Just follow your nose, it always knows. If the spoon still smells funky from the finish it isn't cured yet. You have to just about touch your nose to work in order to really tell though. One food safe finish that I do not think was mentioned in this article is salad bowl finish, which is basically mineral oil. You can get mineral oil in a drug store.

cortexmille (author)2013-10-10

Merci merci merci

pfred2 (author)2013-10-10

A spoon gouge? I don't have one of those. I'm thinking a mace shaped rotary rasp in a die grinder might hollow the spoon bowl out pretty good though.

Charlemagne7 (author)2013-10-10

Fantastic...I'll have to do this. :)

bob3030 (author)2013-10-10

Nice project. I've always admired people that have carving talent. Thanks for posting.

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