“Making a spoon is easy. Start with a piece of wood and remove everything that doesn’t look like a spoon.” — Steve Schuler
Some years ago, my wife broke a cheap wooden spoon in the kitchen. She turned to me and asked, “How hard would it be for you to make a wooden spoon?” I had a few hand tools, and we began to experiment on whatever wood scraps we had on hand. Eventually I found out that traditional wooden spoons are lap-carved from green wood, but I was already well on my way to developing a method that worked well in dry hard- woods. I have since made hundreds of spoons and spatulas in many sizes, from two-foot-long stirring spoons to two-inch tasting spoons. Spoon making is also fast. Once you master the techniques, you can go from stock selection to applying the finish in one hour.
Many hardwoods are appropriate for spoon making, but the finer the grain and the fewer open pores, the better. You can practice on white pine, but a hardwood spoon will stand up better to rough use in the kitchen. For your first spoon, choose an easily worked hardwood such as poplar, black walnut, soft maple or cherry. I have successfully used many woods, including pecan, Osage orange, Chinese tallow tree and mesquite. Once you get the hang of it, try harder woods like beech or hard maple. Eventually, you will seek out stock with bends and twists that seem to invite spoon making.
Select a straight, clear piece of wood 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick, 10″ to 12″ long, and 2″ to 3″ wide. The spoons in the lead photo (above) all started out with a piece of stock that was 3/4″ thick, and 12″ long. Your spoon size may vary to suit your personal preferences. It doesn’t matter if the stock is cupped or twisted, but there must be no checks in the end that will become the bowl. I’ll bet you already have an appropriate piece in your off-cut bin.