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How to Carve Wooden Spoons: A Beginner's Guide

Carving wooden spoons can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. Not only is it a great way to express your creativity, but it also allows you to create functional and beautiful pieces that can be used in your kitchen or given as gifts. In this article, we will provide you with some tips and techniques for carving your own wooden spoons.

To start, you will need a few basic tools including a straight knife, a curved hook knife, and a piece of wood that is 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick, 10″ to 12″ long, and 2″ to 3″ wide. The easiest woods for beginners to use are butternut or basswood, which are soft enough to carve quickly but hard enough to hold fine details. Once you have your tools and materials, you can begin the process of carving your own wooden spoon.

Carving a wooden spoon requires patience and practice, but with the right tools and techniques, anyone can create a beautiful and functional piece. In the following paragraphs, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions for carving your own wooden spoon, including tips for selecting the right wood, using the right tools, and finishing your spoon for a smooth and polished look. So, grab your tools and let’s get started on your wooden spoon carving journey!

Understanding the Basics of Wood Carving

Wood carving is a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to create beautiful and functional objects out of a simple piece of wood. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, it’s important to understand the basics of wood carving before you start any project. In this section, we’ll cover the types of wood and carving tools you’ll need to get started.

Types of Wood

Choosing the right type of wood is essential for a successful wood carving project. Some of the best woods for carving include Oak, Ash, and Maple. These hardwoods are strong and durable, making them ideal for carving spoons that will be used on a regular basis.

When selecting your wood, look for a piece that is free of knots, cracks, and other defects. You’ll also want to consider the grain of the wood. Straight-grained wood is easier to carve than wood with a twisted or irregular grain.

Types of Carving Tools

There are many different types of carving tools available, each designed for a specific task. Some of the most common carving tools include:

  • Carving knives: These knives are used for general carving and shaping.

  • Gouges: Gouges are curved chisels that are used for carving curves and hollows.

  • Chisels: Chisels are flat-bladed tools that are used for cutting straight lines and angles.

  • Spokeshaves: Spokeshaves are used for shaping and smoothing curved surfaces.

When selecting your carving tools, look for high-quality tools that are comfortable to hold and easy to use. You’ll also want to keep your tools sharp, as dull tools can be dangerous and difficult to use.

By understanding the basics of wood carving and selecting the right wood and tools for your project, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful and functional wooden spoons.

Choosing the Right Wood for Spoon Carving

When it comes to carving a wooden spoon, choosing the right type of wood is crucial. You want a wood that is easy to carve, but also durable enough to withstand frequent use as a cooking utensil. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the perfect wood for your spoon carving project:

Hardwood vs. Softwood

As a general rule, hardwoods are the best choice for spoon carving. They are denser and more durable than softwoods, which makes them better suited for carving utensils that will be used for cooking. Some popular hardwoods for spoon carving include cherry, maple, and black walnut.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are more porous and less durable, which makes them less suitable for carving spoons. However, if you are a beginner, you may want to start with a softwood like basswood or butternut, which are easier to carve and can help you develop your skills before moving on to harder woods.

Grain Orientation

When selecting a piece of wood for spoon carving, pay attention to the orientation of the grain. You want the grain to run parallel to the handle of the spoon, as this will make the spoon stronger and less likely to break. Avoid using wood with a cross-grain, as this can cause the spoon to split or warp over time.

Wood Toxicity

Some types of wood can be toxic when used for cooking utensils, so it’s important to choose a wood that is safe for food contact. Avoid using woods like yew, oleander, or laburnum, which can be toxic if ingested. Instead, stick to woods like cherry, maple, or black walnut, which are safe for food contact.

Wood Availability and Cost

Finally, consider the availability and cost of the wood you choose. Some types of wood may be difficult to find or expensive to purchase, so it’s important to choose a wood that is readily available and fits within your budget. Look for local lumberyards or woodworking supply stores, or consider ordering wood online from a reputable supplier.

Selecting Your Carving Tools

When it comes to carving wooden spoons, selecting the right tools is essential. In this section, we’ll discuss the two main types of tools you’ll need: knives and gouges.

Knife Selection

The most important tool for carving wooden spoons is a good carving knife. There are many different types of carving knives available, but for spoon carving, a straight knife and a curved knife are the most commonly used.

When selecting a knife, it’s important to consider the blade length and the handle shape. The blade should be long enough to allow you to make long, smooth cuts, but not so long that it becomes unwieldy. The handle should be comfortable to hold and provide a good grip, even when your hands are sweaty.

Some popular brands of carving knives include Flexcut, Mora, and Helvie. However, the most important thing is to find a knife that feels comfortable in your hand and suits your carving style.

Gouge Selection

Gouges are another important tool for carving wooden spoons. They are used to hollow out the bowl of the spoon and create the curved shape of the handle.

Like knives, there are many different types of gouges available, including straight gouges, bent gouges, and spoon gouges. Straight gouges are the most versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks, while spoon gouges are specifically designed for carving spoons.

When selecting gouges, it’s important to consider the size and shape of the blade, as well as the angle of the bevel. A smaller gouge will allow you to make tighter curves, while a larger gouge is better for larger, sweeping curves. The angle of the bevel will affect the way the gouge cuts, with a steeper angle producing a more aggressive cut.

Some popular brands of gouges include Pfeil, Ashley Iles, and Two Cherries. Again, the most important thing is to find a gouge that feels comfortable in your hand and suits your carving style.

In summary, selecting the right carving tools is essential for carving wooden spoons. When selecting knives and gouges, consider the blade length, handle shape, size and shape of the blade, and angle of the bevel. With the right tools and a bit of practice, you’ll be carving beautiful wooden spoons in no time!

Safety Measures in Wood Carving

Wood carving is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it can also be dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when carving wooden spoons:

Protective Gear

Protective gear is a must-have for any novice wood carver. Gloves prevent painful cuts and scrapes, and goggles protect your eyes from any flying wood chips. Make sure to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling any wood dust, which can be harmful to your lungs.

Sharp Tools

Dull tools are more likely to slip and cause injuries, so it’s essential to keep your tools sharp. Use a honing stone or sharpening tool to maintain the edge of your carving knife and gouges. Always cut away from your body and keep your fingers away from the blade.

Proper Workspace

Make sure to have a proper workspace when carving wooden spoons. Use a sturdy workbench or table and ensure that it is well-lit. Keep your workspace clean and free of any clutter to avoid tripping or knocking over your tools.

Wood Selection

Choose the right type of wood for your project. Hardwoods like cherry, maple, and walnut are ideal for carving wooden spoons. Avoid softwoods like pine, which can easily split or break during carving.

Take Breaks

Carving can be a time-consuming process, and it’s important to take breaks to rest your hands and avoid fatigue. Take frequent breaks, stretch your hands and arms, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

By following these safety measures, you can enjoy the art of wood carving without putting yourself at risk of injury.

Designing Your Wooden Spoon

Before you start carving your wooden spoon, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want the finished product to look like. Here are some tips for designing your wooden spoon:

Consider the Purpose

The first thing to consider when designing your wooden spoon is its purpose. Will it be used for stirring soup, serving salad, or scraping the last bits of batter from a mixing bowl? The shape and size of your spoon will depend on its intended use.

Choose the Wood

The type of wood you choose for your spoon will also affect its design. Some woods are harder and more durable than others, while some have a more distinctive grain pattern. Consider the properties of the wood and how they will affect the look and function of your spoon.

Sketch Your Design

Once you have a clear idea of the purpose and wood type, it’s time to sketch your design. You don’t need to be an artist to do this – a simple outline of the spoon’s shape and size will do. Use a pencil and paper or a digital drawing program to create your design.

Refine Your Design

After you’ve sketched your design, take a closer look at the details. Is the handle comfortable to hold? Is the bowl deep enough to serve its purpose? Make any necessary adjustments to your design until you are satisfied with the final product.

By taking the time to design your wooden spoon before you start carving, you can ensure that the finished product is both beautiful and functional.

Carving the Spoon

Carving a wooden spoon can be a fun and rewarding experience. Once you have selected your wood and have your tools ready, it’s time to start carving. In this section, we will cover the two main parts of carving a spoon: carving the bowl and carving the handle.

Carving the Bowl

The bowl is the curved part of the spoon that holds the food. To begin carving the bowl, you will need a hook knife. This knife has a curved blade that allows you to scoop out the wood. Follow these steps to carve the bowl:

  1. Draw the outline of the bowl on the wood with a pencil. Make sure to leave enough wood around the edges to shape the handle later.
  2. Use the hook knife to make a small cut at the center of the bowl.
  3. Place the hook knife at the center cut and begin to scoop out the wood. Work your way towards the edges of the bowl, creating a curved shape.
  4. Repeat this process until you have reached the desired depth and shape for the bowl.
  5. Use a straight knife to remove any rough spots or bumps on the inside of the bowl.

Carving the Handle

The handle is the part of the spoon that you hold. To begin carving the handle, you will need a straight knife. Follow these steps to carve the handle:

  1. Draw the outline of the handle on the wood with a pencil. Make sure to leave enough wood around the edges to shape the bowl later.
  2. Use the straight knife to remove the excess wood around the handle. Start at the top of the handle and work your way down towards the bowl.
  3. Once you have removed the excess wood, begin shaping the handle. Use the straight knife to create a comfortable grip and a pleasing shape.
  4. Smooth out any rough spots or bumps on the handle with sandpaper or a carving knife.

Remember to take your time and be patient while carving your spoon. It may take some practice to get the hang of it, but with time and practice, you will be able to create beautiful and functional wooden spoons.

Sanding and Finishing Your Wooden Spoon

Once you have carved your wooden spoon, it’s time to sand and finish it. This step is essential to ensure that your spoon is smooth and safe to use. Here are some tips on how to sand and finish your wooden spoon:

Sanding Your Wooden Spoon

  1. Start by using sandpaper with a low grit, such as 80 or 100. This will help you remove any rough spots or tool marks on your spoon.

  2. As you sand, be sure to follow the grain of the wood. Sanding against the grain can cause scratches and damage to your spoon.

  3. Gradually increase the grit of your sandpaper as you sand. Move up to 150 grit, then 220 grit, and finally 320 grit.

  4. After you have finished sanding, wipe your spoon with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.

Finishing Your Wooden Spoon

  1. There are several options for finishing your wooden spoon, including oil, wax, and varnish. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so choose the one that best fits your needs.

  2. If you choose to use oil, such as linseed oil or tung oil, apply a thin layer to your spoon with a cloth. Let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth.

  3. For wax, such as beeswax or carnauba wax, apply a thin layer with a cloth or brush. Let it dry for a few minutes, then buff your spoon with a clean cloth.

  4. Varnish is a more durable option, but it can be more difficult to apply. Use a brush to apply a thin layer of varnish to your spoon, then let it dry completely before using.

  5. Whichever finish you choose, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply multiple coats if necessary. This will help protect your spoon and keep it looking great for years to come.

By following these tips, you can sand and finish your wooden spoon like a pro. With a little patience and attention to detail, your spoon will be ready to use and enjoy.

Maintaining Your Carved Wooden Spoon

Congratulations on carving your very own wooden spoon! Now that you have put in the time and effort to create a beautiful and functional kitchen tool, it’s important to take care of it properly so that it will last for years to come. Here are some tips for maintaining your carved wooden spoon:


After each use, rinse your spoon with warm water and mild soap. Avoid soaking the spoon in water for an extended period of time, as this can cause the wood to warp or crack. Dry the spoon thoroughly with a clean towel or let it air dry before storing it.

Oil Treatment

To keep your wooden spoon from drying out and cracking, it’s important to oil it regularly. Use a food-safe oil such as mineral oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil. Apply a small amount of oil to the spoon and rub it in with a clean cloth or paper towel. Let the oil soak in for a few hours or overnight, then wipe off any excess oil before using the spoon again.


Store your wooden spoon in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Avoid storing it in a damp or humid environment, as this can cause the wood to swell and warp. If you have multiple wooden spoons, you can store them upright in a utensil holder or lay them flat in a drawer.


Inspect your wooden spoon regularly for any cracks, splinters, or signs of wear and tear. Sand down any rough spots with fine-grit sandpaper and reapply oil as needed. If your spoon becomes stained or discolored, you can try rubbing it with a mixture of baking soda and water or a lemon and salt solution.

By following these simple tips for cleaning, oiling, storing, and maintaining your carved wooden spoon, you can enjoy using it in your kitchen for years to come.