Saturday, February 08, 2014


What you see here is a spoon and spatula carved by my own two hands!

This is the result of a day-long spoon carving class with spoon carver extraordinaire Barn the Spoon which I was given as a Christmas present from Mr B.
Barn does evening classes at his shop in Hackney, but this class (with about 8 students) took place one Saturday in January at his other workshop in Stepney City Farm and it was an excellent day!

We started with a sharp knife and a spatula blank - a bit of wood (in this case Alder) that had been roughly shaped, and as Barn showed us various knife grips and cutting techniques, we carved away a bit here and a bit there until we had a spatula!

My progress as we broke for lunch.
You can see I employed one of my handy dandy notebooks to take notes! 

After lunch we each took turns splitting a log using hardwood wedges. This wood is Lime, although not the kind you put in your G&T.
This slice will soon be my spoon!

We removed the bark and drew a rough guide line to follow...

...then roughed out the shape using an axe (!) I was a bit wary to carve with an axe but I found I had more control than I expected. 
That's not my blood on the wood btw! They're scuff marks from the axe while I was trying to flatten out the face of the spoon. I managed to get through the day with all fingers and arteries intact!

Then it was a matter of refining and refining using the carving knife. The bowl of the spoon is dug out using the curve-bladed knife on the right.

The whole thing was such a satisfying process! The texture of the wood, the smell of it, the sound of the carving, the growing pile of wood shavings all around me as a spoon emerges from the chunk of wood! 
It is quite an addictive process too - I'll just round this bit off more, I'll just smooth this bit out, I'll just take a bit more off here etc etc etc...

This is how my spoon and spatula looked by the end of the day. I was pretty proud of my efforts!

I let them dry out for a few days, sanded them down a bit, and gave them a couple of coats of almond oil (which I had lurking in the back of the cupboard). I was pleased that the oil really brought out the richness of colour in the Alder wood spatula.

And now I have two new kitchen tools which are very satisfying to hold. Plus I have the knowledge of how to make more! Hooray! 
The spoon is especially good for making porridge as the pointy bit gets into the corner of the saucepan.

Have you had a go at wood carving? If you ever get the chance I highly recommend it!

Watch a video of Barn the Spoon in action here.