Wooden Spoons

Handcarved wooden spoons
Some of the Spoons I have carved in the last year.

I enjoy carving wooden spoons for people to use everyday.  Each spoon is unique as the natural patterns in the wood itself dictate much of the final form.  When I want a particular style of spoon I have to find a piece that will allow me to make the shape and then I must work with the intrinsic grain patterns to expose it.  Most of the time I simply let the wood tell me what to do.  It is all very hard to explain.  For me there is a distinct pleasure that only comes from using a hand crafted tool.  It is similar to, but somehow different from the pleasure of its creation.

Most of the people who know that I carve wooden spoons have seen me carving them in one campground or another.  Then there are others that have seen them and can’t believe that I really carve them myself with hand tools. Well the simple truth is that I am a woodworker and I have an internal need to be doing something with my hands much of the time. That can be a problem when you spend a lot of your time traveling in an RV. Not much room for tools. Sporadic opportunities to purchase supplies. Well you get the picture.

A few years ago Elaine and I chanced upon a bird carving museum and school somewhere near Bar Harbor, Maine and I saw this wood carving kit of knives that looked to be of good quality at a reasonable price. I purchased the kit and a block of basswood with directions for carving a loon.  I carved the loon, and then from another piece of wood an armadillo, an old sea-captain, an owl and some other critters and they were “OK” and the carving part filled the time.  Then one day I decided to carve a spoon and I was hooked. 50 or a 100(?) spoons later I am still carving them. Nothing fancy just utilitarian spoons.

A tree limb
A Vine Maple Limb

I typically start with a piece of firewood, a material that I can find in almost any campground.  Some of my spoons start as scrap from my wood shop, some from driftwood, some donated, and occasionally I will buy it either because I really like the piece or scrounging isn’t keeping up with demand.  First, I use a hatchet to split the limb through the center. The very center must be removed or the wood will crack as it dries.

Some Simple Tools
Some Simple Tools

Depending on my whim, the piece of wood, and the spoon that I am making I may proceed to rough out the spoon with the hatchet. Next I will pare off waste with the saw and chisel and finally with roughing and bent knives.

Left Overs - Kindling
Left Overs – Kindling

In about an hour I have very nice pile of stuff.

Roughed Out Spoon Top
Roughed Out Spoon Top

Oh! And the beginnings of a spoon or sometimes, a smaller piece of firewood.

Roughed Out Spoon Bottom
Roughed Out Spoon Bottom

This one looks just fine. It should clean up nicely.

Completely Roughed Out
Completely Roughed Out

So I scooped out the bowl and then hand scraped it smooth which took the better part of an hour.

2 Views of a Finished Spoon
2 Views of a Finished Spoon

Then a little more careful knife-work, a little of hand scraping on the exterior, and last a bit of sanding.  Another hour gone, but I have a new spoon!

The only thing left is a protective finish.  I generally use food grade walnut oil as it soaks in well and “dries” as opposed to mineral oil which both evaporates and is washed out with normal dish washing.  There is no perfect solution to the problem.  If you use the spoon its finish will have to be renewed from time to time.

Hope you enjoyed your short course in spoon carving,

Your Random Rover,


And back to AZ

Hanna On The Road
On The Road In Texas

We have returned home completing another “there and back again” (Thank you Mr. Tolkien) adventure, this one 5,272 miles long.  We went to a few familiar places and a plethora of new ones.  This is a wonderful land we live in, overflowing with interesting places and people worth remembering.  This trip was no different from our others in that we made some new friends and created new memories.

Segmented Bowl
Segmented Bowl

On leaving Rockport/Fulton we headed north to Austin where we went to an RV Show to check out the “au courant” of 5th wheels.  While there we should have checked out The Broken Spoke, one of Texas’ famous dance venues, but it was mid-week so we took a pass.  By the way, we really did not see anything electrifying at the show though there are a couple of units in Tucson that we want to look at in a week or two.  From Austin we took another short drive to Bandera, which bills itself as the cowboy capital of Texas.  We shopped Bandera, Comfry, and Boerne from there.  Elaine found really great fiber arts supply and I found some very nice woodwork by some local craftspeople.

A Texas Honky Tonk
A Texas Honky Tonk

And one night we danced at a bona fide, indubitable, unimpeachable, Texas Honky Tonk.  Would you go in here in the dark of night?   Yes those are brassieres hanging from the ceiling.  No I am not dancing, I’m taking the picture.  We drank some beer, danced a little on the concrete floor had a good time and went home sober.  From Bandera we went to Fredericksburg for mexican food at Hilda’s (You have to try it! It is great.) and you guessed it more shopping.

Camping 81 Palms
Camping 81 Palms

We spent our last night in the same place as the first, 81 Palms, in Demming NM.

All natural myrtle wood hand carved armadillo, by your ever modest author
All natural myrtle wood hand carved armadillo, by your ever modest author

Oops, this is a post script.  I just realized that the myrtle wood armadillo that I carved somehow got left out and Elaine says he must be included so here he is.  His name is Dilly if you are curious.

Thank you all for spending time with us on this Texas odyssey, Y’all.  And yes your comments are welcome.

Gordon the Random Rover


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