I’m on a journey with carving spoons. Making them is the most demanding work I do in wood as the tolerances are very, very fine; the risk management (one slip and it’s firewood) is high; the design content almost outweighs everything else; the number of beautiful spoons carved by other people is very high. OK so it’s not an easy thing, I’d like to say I do it for relaxation, as I certainly don’t do it to make money!
However, making a spoon is a very concentrated piece of work, which lasts quite a long time, it’s a bit like riding the Yorkshire Three Peaks Cyclocross bike race – concentrated effort over a sustained period.
The thing is while I’m carving a spoon I can not think about anything else. That is a good thing I think.
So here are two hazel spoons I’m working up. I’ve done this design around four times before, all in hazel. They are copied from a Scottish horn spoon that we’ve had around the house for some years. This time I’ve made two at once. A bit like in a spoon club pass round, I worked on one for a spell and then swapped to the other. The main thing I noticed was that the second run always seemed to work better and more quickly than the first. I guess I’m learning from the first making.
Axing out the split log:
This is bark up, that is, the bottom of the bowl and the back of the spoon facing the pith at the centre of the log. You can see the brown line of the pith in the left hand half that’s just split. I’ve split the log with my little ‘Gem’ axe that I reserve for spoons and then with the right-hand half I’ve axed off the pith and the outside until it’s flat and wide enough to draw on the outline of the spoon.
Now I’ve got them both ready for tracing an outline. I’d like to get away from this outline, but it gives me the overall length and width and a guide to the shape I’m after.
Here they’re drawn in:
And now I’ve axed the shapes out.
This gave me a good plan to follow instead of flitting about all over the spoon blank at will. My next tasks were: complete the plan profile of the handle, then the bowl, carve the underside of the bowl, carve the stem – where the handle joins the spoon last. Hollow the bowl after the underside of the bowl is done. All the time checking for symmetry and line. I finished them off this morning and they are now awaiting poker-work from Jane and dispatch to customers. They turned out slightly different, but I think carving two at once is a good thing for improving my carving.