DIY: Hand-carved Wooden Spoons

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

Step 1:

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
  • 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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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!

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49 Discussions

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DaleS79

Question 5 hours ago

what do you do when the bowl of the spoon starts checking during the process?

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Cometeer

5 years ago on Introduction

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.

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StriderInBreeCometeer

Reply 7 months ago

Ditto ArtisanEclectic and cdelichte — make sure it is sharp! Also, when working with razor sharp gouges, keep your fingers out of the way. I say this from painful experience.

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.

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cdelichteCometeer

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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!

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pfred2Cometeer

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.

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pfred2pfred2

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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

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astral_mageCometeer

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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

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guaps

5 years ago on Introduction

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!

4 replies
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StriderInBreeguaps

Reply 7 months ago

Oils like tung, walnut, and linseed harden, and curing time depends on the oil. Other oils, like mineral and olive oil do not harden. They are easier to apply, but need to be renewed frequently.

In my experience, olive oil mixed with beeswax does not seem to go rancid. An alternative would be to mix beeswax with a curing oil like tung.

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cdelichteguaps

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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!!

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cdelichtecdelichte

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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!)
http://lainbloom.blogspot.ca/2013/03/how-to-carve-wooden-spoon.html

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treymartin82

Question 7 months ago on Step 1

What types of wood are considered hardwoods? What types of carving knives did you use? And what is the best food safe oil to use? Thanks!

1 answer
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StriderInBreetreymartin82

Answer 7 months ago

Hardwood generally refers to wood from deciduous trees ( maple, oak, walnut) while softwood refers to conifers (pine, cedar, firs). Note that a few “hardwoods” (balsa, for example) are actually softer than some “softwoods.”

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WoodB1

2 years ago

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

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twighahn

2 years ago

Not basic tools

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King-solo2

2 years ago

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

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jolj1.

2 years ago

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.

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vwtdi

2 years ago

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