Spoon Carving

Lately I've been itching to do more wood working. I don't have any great need for new furniture right now so I won't be doing that variety of wood work; instead, I've gone back to wood carving. I have a set of Mikisho Power Grip carving tools from many years ago that I haven't put much use into because fine carving is quite difficult and I apparently never had the patience for it. However, I've found that they can still be beneficial in combination with my two Flex Cut carving knives for the use of spoon carving.

The spoon you see on the top of the picture is from a currently unknown wood, though it may very well be ash. Ash is common in my area and I harvested the wood from what I thought was a greenwood deadfall, but it turned out to be older and dryer than its outward appearance led me to believe. I cut a good four foot section that was perhaps eight inches in diameter and hauled it back through the woods to my truck. Back home I cross cut a smaller segment off, then split that with an axe down into a more usable block. I perhaps should have just tossed it once I noted the minor holes from bug larva, but considering I just needed practice and not necessarily a usable utensile, I forged ahead.

I did the brunt of the roughing out with a Silky Gomboy folding saw which is highly impractical for such work. When that became a failing proposition, I turned to the larger of my two Flex Cut knives which allowed a significant amount of waste to chip off with each cut. The interior of the spoon was carved out with my new Morakniv hook knife (164). It took some getting used to to figure out how to hold it and cut effectively, but it works very well for the task.

I finished off some of the handle with a Pfeil "Swiss Made" Carvers Drawknife that I just picked up yesterday. The right tool for the right job, you know? I finished up shaping the outside of the bowl with a Pfeil 3/16 sweep gouge, procured at the same time. The remainder of the task involved sanding the knife marks out which is unnecessary but aesthetically pleasing to me.

The second spoon was carved today from a block of cedar bound for the fire. It was very easy to split to size with a hatchet since it's such a soft, straight-grained wood that's also bone dry. While I had eyeballed the shape for the prior spoon, for this one I made a stencil cut out from a cardboard box and penciled the line on the wood blank. I carved out the bowl first using the gouge and the hook knife, then roughed out the handle with a series of stop cuts, knocking out the blocks with a chisel and hammer. I cleaned it up with the draw knife, then roughed the outside of the bowl with a hack saw. The bowl was carved into shape with a combination of the gouge and a Flex Cut. Unfortunately I cracked out a piece of the bowl when carving the end grain; it seems to require a fine touch with dry cedar. I finished the work with sandpaper to knock out the rough grain pattern here and there.

The final step was a rub down with mineral oil. I find that it soaks in well, dries quickly, and brings out the natural color of the wood nicely.

I have a long way to go before I'd call myself a wood carving adept, but it's an enjoyable process and I'm sure I'll have more pieces to show in the near future. Also forthcoming is a post on a hatchet head restoration project!