A Gift of Spooncarving

Denise came and spent a day with me last week to learn to carve spoons. The day of one-to-one tuition was a Christmas present from her partner and so, after more than 2 months of anticipation, she was excited to get started. Even though she’d not worked with wood before I guessed that Denise would be good with her hands as she’s a bookbinder and, since she runs workshops herself, thought she’d also be a good student. I wasn’t wrong on either score and she was a pleasure to teach as well as good company.

Normally, I spend two days teaching people to carve spoons as there’s a lot to fit in and I want to spend enough time practising the techniques to get them right and so folk can remember them once they get home. Everything goes a bit quicker with just one person and with some modifications to the usual timetable I was confident we could get it all in.

Axe practiseWe started as always with the axe which for most people is the most difficult tool as it requires strength as well as technique to use accurately. I was impressed by how Denise got on with but when, halfway through, she also admitted to being a drummer it became clearer why she had the forearm strength and good rhythm. We worked at different exercises to gain confidence and then develop the beginnings of accuracy.

After going through what I consider to be the fundamental grips for the straight knife we broke for some lunch. Denise was soon asking ‘What’s next?’ and the only real answer was ‘Okay, let’s make a spoon.’

I decided for this lesson to let Denise do the axework for her spoon with the proviso that, once her aim started to go or she felt her muscles complaining, I would take over. There’s no point in carrying on with axing if it means you are too tired for the knifework when it is a simple matter for me to finish off removing the waste. In the end, that wasn’t necessary and, apart from a couple of small refinements, the spoon is all her own work. I love to watch people learn to handle the tools, find the grain and enjoy those moments when their own experiences teach in practise what I’ve been explaining with words.

spoon axework Spoon carving
We had enough time to make a couple of decorative notches and refine the bevels of the handle for a handsome finished spoon that’s sure to be the first of many.

Denise's first spoon


About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe tutor. I carve spoons, bowls and other products from locally sourced greenwood. During the summer I teach scything around the UK.
This entry was posted in greenwood courses, spoon carving, SteveTomlinCrafts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Gift of Spooncarving

  1. Denise says:

    What a brilliant day, carving spoons! It was wonderful Steve, thank you for your time and patience, and company – I don’t think we ever stopped talking all day.

    Wood carving turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. I learned a lot in one day, using the tools, how not to cut myself, how to understand the grain of the wood and which direction to cut. The day inspired me so much that I went home and ordered knives – and then the joiner that is building our fold away bed, dropped off some bits of tree trunk that he had just chopped down in his garden – it was meant to be!

    So now I have the skills to make another spoon. it will be a long time before my spoons look half decent, but the process of making a spoon is so enjoyable and it’s something that you can do anywhere. And I can highly recommend it for anyone like me, that may have a bit of a spoon fetish and a love of wood.

    This was a lovely present that has given me a new interest, and everyone I know will be getting spoons for Christmas next year.

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