How to Carve a Wooden Spoon


Spoons are a good carving project, because they don’t require any detail, and once you’re finished with one, it can be put to use. Spoons can be carved in a variety of shapes and sizes. A simple spoon is a good project for a beginner carver. Once you’ve carved one and feel up to a challenge, the design can be changed to incorporate an unusual shape or a bent handle. Use wood with an unusual grain to add to the beauty of the spoon.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Transfer paper
  • Scroll or band saw
  • Woodworking clamp
  • Rasp
  • Spokeshave
  • Mallet
  • Spoon gouge
  • Curved knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Soft cloth
  • Food-safe oil
  • Calipers
  • Select a piece of wood that’s long enough and thick enough for the spoon you wish to carve. For your first spoon, the wood should be a type that is easy to work with, such as basswood. Other types of wood that are suitable for working spoons include cherry, elm, butternut, Alaskan yellow cedar and mahogany.

  • Draw or trace a pattern onto the wood. You can trace a spoon you already have and use it as is, or modify it to meet your needs.

  • Cut out the spoon blank with a scroll or band saw, while staying just outside the pattern lines. If using a band saw, the blade should be small enough to go around the curve of the spoon’s bowl.

  • Clamp down the spoon blank for safety and to allow you to carve quickly. Round the back of the bowl with a coarse rasp or spokeshave. A carving knife or belt sander could also be used. Carve the inside of the bowl first, if you prefer.

  • Carve the handle to the shape you want, by using the rasp, spokeshave or carving knife. Periodically check your progress by putting your hand around it to see how it feels. You want the handle to be comfortable and free of edges.

  • Draw along the outside edge of the top of the spoon bowl (the part that’s not carved yet) with a pencil. This will give you a guideline for finishing the outside of the bowl. Draw another line approximately 1/16 of an inch toward the center of the bowl from the first line, as a guide for how far you can carve out to the edge.

  • Carve out the bowl with a spoon gouge or curved carving knife, while staying inside the inner pencil line and going in the direction of the grain. Use a carving mallet if the wood isn't soft enough to push the gouge by hand. Check your progress often so you don’t carve too far down to the bottom or out to the edge. Use calipers to determine when you have achieved 1/16 of an inch all the way around.

  • Sand the spoon with 80 grit sandpaper once you have carved or rasped it to the shape you like. When the entire piece feels smooth to the touch, wipe off the dust with a soft cloth, and move on to finer sandpaper grits until you like how the spoon feels. Wipe the spoon down in between each change of sandpaper and once you’ve finished sanding.

  • Apply light sesame oil or food-safe mineral oil to the spoon with a soft cloth to protect it and bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Wipe off any excess, and your spoon is finished.

Tips & Warnings

  • Carve with the grain. If your knife or gouge digs into the wood and starts to splinter it, stop and carve from the other direction.
  • Wet the spoon blank after it is sanded to bring out the grain. Let it dry and sand it again for a smooth finish.
  • Reapply oil if the spoon looks dull. Sand the spoon first if it feels rough to the touch.
  • Use sharp tools. Dull tools will not work properly and can slip out of control.

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  • Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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