Roughing Spoons from Straight Blanks


Spoons are cranky.  Take a close look at just about any spoon, whatever the material, and you’ll find that the rim of the bowl of the spoon is not in the same plane as the handle.  The angle between them is not typically a flat 180°.  It’s more ergonomic to have the handle raised up to some degree relative to the bowl.  The angle varies depending on the intended purpose of the spoon.  A stirring/cooking spoon might have a handle raised up just 10°-15°.  Most eating spoons are a bit higher, in the neighborhood of 15°-20°.  Servers can vary all the way up to a deep ladle approaching 90°.  Don’t get caught up in the numbers, though.  Curves through the handle and bowl rim make measuring any actual angle pleasantly fuzzy, and I don’t measure when I’m making them.  Trust the feedback that comes from your hands and eyes as the spoon takes shape.


Not an exact plan as much as a general idea of orientation.

Crooked branches establish much of their own crank when they are split, and they often allow for significant bend while still maintaining strength through the long fibers of the wood.  And even when the bend in the spoon is relatively shallow, if carved from a crook, it can be carved thinner than the same spoon from a straight-grained blank.  While crank can still be achieved from straight-grained blanks,  I don’t push the bend too far or make the bowls too deep.


While roughing out a spoon yesterday from a straight piece of cherry, I took some photos through the process, this slideshow shows how I go about it, including achieving the crank in a straight-grained blank.

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The procedure is similar for crooks, while taking into consideration the unique flow of the grain in each one.  Here’s a serving spoon from a cherry crook that I just finished.  14″ long, 3″ wide.  I’ll be boxing it up to send to North House Folk School for the auction coming up soon.  I know there will be lots of others as well.  Still time to carve yours!



This entry was posted in carving, layout, sketch, spoons, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Roughing Spoons from Straight Blanks

  1. Rob says:

    So generous to share this.
    Thanks for showing that great use of the adze how to get that important crank. I’ve just purchased a HK adze, don’t tell the wife – how many pair of shoes can you buy?, so I’ll be having a go.
    Once again, thanks, you inspire and instruct, a rare combination.


  2. Douglas says:

    David, thanks for the tutorial on how to make a spoon with an adze – an approach that I had not considered! Love your work and very much appreciate your generous sharing of ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott Thomas says:

    David, when the day comes for a book I think you have the chapter on green wood spoon carving right here. Complete with your illustrations, explanations and (I’m guessing) support team photos. Certainly if anyone wants to learn how, they don’t need to look further. For now. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jed Dillard says:

    Thanks for the instructions
    I don’t plan my spoons nearly this much, and you can tell by looking at them. Now I can take break from free styling and learn whether the problem is my style or my skill
    My fear is it will prove to be both.
    Seriously, I appreciate being able to see your methods and results demonstrated


    • Dave Fisher says:

      Nothing wrong with a little free styling, Jed! This was a sort of textbook example, but my procedure often varies in reality depending on specific designs and situations. It’s all a bit of creative problem solving. I’m sure you’ve got both style and skill in spades!


  5. Andrew Frederiksen says:

    If you are making spoons (your hint in the last line of your post) I would love to buy two more “tiramisu” spoons – the spoon shape can be up to you.

    Sent from Outlook



    • Dave Fisher says:

      I just meant that I think there will be many other carvers making spoons for the auction, Andrew. Still, I will be making spoons along with many projects to finish — and start! I’ll be in touch.


  6. Larry says:

    Dear David,

    Would you please do a detailed demo on carving the keel and transition from the bacl of the bowl to the handle? I seem to have the most difficulty there. Thanks in advance, Larry


  7. John Anderson says:

    Thank you for the help and advice.


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