We asked graphic designer Chantelle Delichte to guest blog a tutorial of her gorgeous hand-carved wooden spoons. Chantal has done “everything from felting, weaving, sewing, woodworking, leaded-glass work to refinishing an old bike. One of my latest interests is carving wooden spoons.”
Like her other artistic endeavors, Chantal’s interest in carving spoons began with a small curiosity that “quickly turned into a full-blown obsession.” What she really loves about it is its simplicity. “The process itself is very relaxing, and not complicated in any way. You don’t need any fancy equipment — just a couple of carving tools and some wood to start. It can be picked up anytime and worked on for a few minutes here and there. Once I started, I quickly realized it was something I will continue doing for years to come.”
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).
- Wood rasp (nice to have, but not necessary).
- Small rag and food-safe oil.
STEP ONE: 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 TWO: 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 THREE: 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 FOUR: 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 FIVE: 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 SIX: 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 SEVEN: 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 EIGHT: Take a moment and sit back to admire your lovely, hand-crafted work. Then, start on another one!