Moon Spoons?

A fellow carver directed me toward this short film documenting the traditional making of spoons from boxwood in Spain. Filmed in 1994, it features a man named Pascual Mairal who had been practicing this craft since he was a child.

There are many things to consider in this short film, beginning with the harvest of the boxwood. Pascual explains that he cuts the trees only during a waning moon. I’ve heard of this before, and seeing it here refreshed my curiosity.

In Woodworking in Estonia, Ants Viires writes: “In felling trees not just the season was important, but also phases of the moon and wind direction were born in mind in the interest of the quality of timber, such as was done also in the case of many other chores. The respective regulations derived from a very old idea that life on earth grew and developed during the new moon but everything grew old, dried and died during the waning moon.”

Folklore or not, there are at least some modern companies that support the notion that harvesting according to the moon phases matters, including this architectural firm. And a Swiss tonewood supplier that supports the notion of moon harvesting as well. Or is it mainly advertising hype?

I have no idea. Just about all of the chunks of wood I use come from trees that have been cut down by somebody else for some other reason or were blown down by the wind. Tree trimmers and removers aren’t concerned with moon phases any more that the wind is, I suppose. Whether the moon matters or not, there are some interesting techniques shown in the video, including a cool sawing method, use of a stock knife, work holding, and working with rasps, scrapers, and burnishers. The channel has lots of other traditional craft videos posted as well. I’ll look forward to checking them out over time.

This entry was posted in finding wood, green woodworking, historical reference, holding, spoons, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Moon Spoons?

  1. Kalia Kliban says:

    Yep, never seen anyone use a bow saw that way but it really makes sense with what he’s doing. I have dreams of someday finding a stock knife in an antique store. After watching Jojo Wood work with one I realized what subtle control you can get while still having a lot of power behind the cut. Loved to see this. Thank you for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ben Frankamp says:

    Does the knife attached to the wooden block with a hook have a name?

    Loved the video!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Cayll says:

    Unable to locate said video. Please advise Thank you 😊

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. Duncan says:

    There’s quite a lot written on the web about whether or not moon wood is real. Mostly, this is just opinions and some intuitive reasoning. But there have been stringent, controlled studies that do provide, I think, good evidence that stem diameter and electrical potentials in some trees vary synchronously with lunisolar tides. See doi: 10.1093/aob/mcx215 . This is observation, but the mechanisms are unknown. Obviously not clear what, if anything, this means for the quality of the wood, to work or to use. But it’s at least interesting to consider as you carve a bowl or a spoon or build a timber frame that you may be interacting with some very subtle qualities in this wood stuff that you hadn’t previously realised. It’s always inspiring to me to think that the wood in our hands has lived through, and recorded, differing seasons through day, night, sunshine, rain, warmth, cold….. and now tides!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gunnaroe says:

    Young and skinny boys in Sweden have learned that way of using the bow saw from elder folks – and they even had a name for the method, they called it “kärringsÃ¥gning” meaning “sawing like a wifey or a woman”. Ignoring the old condescending name it is an excellent way of using a bow saw.


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