What tools do I need for spoon carving? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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What tools do I need for spoon carving?

Im interested in starting to carve spoons, I have a Hook knife, Carving knife, And a little carving knife for more detailed work. I have access to a band saw and a chop saw. Is there anything else I need to make spoons? And are there any other hand tools I could get to make the process faster?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 03:37 PM
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I carved 70 spoons and 30 forks for sale. I needed to work as fast as possible.
First, I carved a bunch of prototypes to learn what people wanted. Thick handles. Small bowls.
Forks for stirring because they never ever splash anything out of the pot.



I cut all the birch blanks on a table saw.

Next, I drilled one hole in the bowl part to be my stop cut (3/4" Forstner bit.)

I carved back into that with a mallet and a 9/15 gouge. Finished with a crooked knife.

Next step was to shape the round handle with 2 spoke shaves (Samona $16.00 each).
One set for thick cuts and the other for thin finishing cuts.
You count at each corner to get the handle evenly rounded.


Olive oil, oven baked finish in 3 mnutes and 30 seconds and they were done for sale.


I got so bored with the tedium that I quit.

I won't carve another spoon, ever, without a life-threatening reason to do so.
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post #3 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Okay thanks! that helps a lot.

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post #4 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 04:33 PM
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Lots of carvers use different tools. I was working for speed.
In batches of a dozen, each one took about 90 minutes from blank to finished.


I hope you can see what tools you might apply.
Get some soft wood, growth ring count of 20-50 per inch.

Clear 2x4 or 1x4 would be nice to mess with.

Carve some "quickies" to get an idea of the moves you have to make (experiences).


My red-colored ones are western red cedar. All the white ones are dry birch.
There are 2 pairs of farrier's hoof knives (12 degree bevels from factory 25 degrees)
The 2 Pacific Northwest crooked knives I made from 2-edged blades that I bought.


I tend to focus on the Pacific Northwest and coast as I've lived here most of my life.
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post #5 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 05:07 PM
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If all you are going to make is spoons I don't know if chisels is the answer. Chisels are a expensive and difficult to sharpen if you haven't done it before. You might consider a flap disc on a angle grinder to shape the contour.

If you do want to use chisels the type and size depends on the size of the spoon and the amount of curve you desire. The widths of the gouges are given in metric sizes. You don't have to have a chisel as wide as the spoon but I would at least get one half as big. The curvature of the chisel is called sweeps. A completely flat chisel like a carpenters chisel would be a #1 sweeps and one that was U- shaped would be #11. Then you will need some slip stones to sharpen them.
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post #6 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 06:49 PM
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Steve, as you know, the bevels on all the top quality gouges (not chisels) are on the outside of the sweep.
As you know then, a slip stone is not the form of abrasive needed. Flat abrasives such as water stones and fine automotive finishing sandpapers do an excellent job of sharpening and honing gouge sweeps.



Interesting as you can see, all of the bevels on all of the Pacific Northwest First Nations style of carving tools are on the inside of the sweeps. Farrier's hoof trimming knives included. That design is always meant to spall off the shaving to the bevel side.
Same as the action of a shake splitting froe. The geometry makes sharpening adzes such as mine a bit of a new challenge.


I have some experience carving spoons. I use a stop cut which you can see is a 3/4" hole = a stop cut.
Cutting back into that with a mallet and a gouge is very fast, you should try it for 20 spoons.
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post #7 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Steve, as you know, the bevels on all the top quality gouges (not chisels) are on the outside of the sweep.
As you know then, a slip stone is not the form of abrasive needed. Flat abrasives such as water stones and fine automotive finishing sandpapers do an excellent job of sharpening and honing gouge sweeps.



Interesting as you can see, all of the bevels on all of the Pacific Northwest First Nations style of carving tools are on the inside of the sweeps. Farrier's hoof trimming knives included. That design is always meant to spall off the shaving to the bevel side.
Same as the action of a shake splitting froe. The geometry makes sharpening adzes such as mine a bit of a new challenge.


I have some experience carving spoons. I use a stop cut which you can see is a 3/4" hole = a stop cut.
Cutting back into that with a mallet and a gouge is very fast, you should try it for 20 spoons.
All of the gouges I have the bevel is on the outside of the chisel. I don't believe I've ever seen any that were ground on the inside before. I use Arkansas slip stones to sharpen all of my chisels. I just use the flat face of the slip stone to do the outside of the gouge and the rounded edge for the inside. Ground either way though I believe I would use the slip stones to do the honing.
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post #8 of 36 Old 02-25-2019, 08:12 PM
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There are several techniques for spoon carving. Pick one and learn it. I needed speed.

I tend to ignore the $25,000 digital machinery to carve a spoon.
Then $5.00 for a used farrier's hoof knife ($60 new) that can be revised to do a perfect job.



Crooked knives used all over the Pacific Northwest have bevels on the inside of the sweep.
They have been this way for centuries. Kestrel Tool will make some "reverse" designs by special order.
Carving adzes, D adzes, gutter adzes and elbow adzes, such as I use, are all inside bevels as well.


At more than $100 each for adze blades and $50 - $75 each for knife blades,

I fully intend to do quality freehand sharpening to sustain useful bevel angles.


That means, specifically, to use a honing compound with a nominal particle size of 0.5 microns or less.
I can't get used to the idea of a stone of indeterminate particle size as being superior to

known manufactured standards where I even have some choice.
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post #9 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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I tried to do some carving today on some maple, but dang! thats way harder that it looks, my hook knife is razor sharp but for some reason im having a huge amount of difficulty with it. I cant get more than a tiny shaving off.

I think it would be way easer with a gouge and mallet. for me atleast, Ill take a look at some crooked knives too

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post #10 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conner.Michaux View Post
I tried to do some carving today on some maple, but dang! thats way harder that it looks, my hook knife is razor sharp but for some reason im having a huge amount of difficulty with it. I cant get more than a tiny shaving off.

I think it would be way easer with a gouge and mallet. for me atleast, Ill take a look at some crooked knives too
Maple is harder than Superman's knee caps, you might want to try a softer wood or use a mechanical burr of some sort, if you want to use Maple. JMHO

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post #11 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 06:06 PM
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See? You're learning about the wood already.

If you want to carve dry seasoned woods, you have to re-think your choice of tools.

Many of the broad leaf woods go from cheese to bone when they dry.
There are a few that dont:
Just about any birch. Stiff, but I have the experience to call it good.
Basswood from a single dealer = Heineke.

Basswood growing in the north is more consistent, whiter and easier to carve than southern basswood.


Me? I carve western red cedar most of the time, some yellow cedar and birch.
Conifer woods are weak and they don't hold much detail without splitting.
Look at Pacific Northwest totem poles and story poles = massive carvings and no small details.
Yes, you can try to carve details, one piece it works, the next piece snaps apart.


Crooked knives: Some east coast bladesmiths admit that they copy the blade designs from Kestrel.
Kestrel will sell you finished blades in many sizes and sweeps. Then you haft that yourself (they supply plans).
North Bay Forge won't sell blades, just finished knives. So maybe you get one with the wrong size handle for your hands.
You can see 2 of my knives with the yellow cord whipping.


The really cool fix is on the left in that picture = farrier's hoof trimming knives. OK handles, just change the bevel angle from 25 degrees to 12 degrees. The key feature is that the blades finish in a tight hook. You can sharpen that as a scorp.
Those are right and left pairs of Mora Frosst #171. Mora #188 is double edged. I have 2 of them.
I don't think I have revised more than 2 dozen of these.



This is running into big bucks sooner than later.


So you go and visit your local farrier. They are forever sharpening and grinding down their hoof knives.
Lots of people let their horses run barefoot all winter and now everybody wants their horses shoed yesterday.
A used "worn out" farrier's knife will have a lifetime of steel in it for wood carving.
Hall(Canada) and Ukal (France) knives have very hard steel.
A pair of new Hall, left and right, was $100.00. I offer the farrier $5 each for worn down Hall and he thinks it's a deal.
They really are a bugger to grind down to 12 degrees from about 25. But they are a dream to carve with as you watch the shavings spall off the edge of the blade.


Idaho is home? You ought to have farriers all around you. Go visit, if you can ever catch one at home at this time of year.
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post #12 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, I will buy a Farrier's knife, is it necessary to modify it in any way to make carving easier? I'm going for speed and ease.


I have a local imported and domestic hardwood store about 30 mins away from me, Its probably better to use fresh wood but I have no way to get it, So is it okay to use Basswood lumber?


Also other than basswood what are some woods that can stand everyday use but are soft enough to carve with ease?


For a farriers, knife is this okay? https://www.centaurforge.com/Anvil-B...uctinfo/ABKRH/

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post #13 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 10:06 PM
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I'm flattered that you had the patience to read all I wrote!


I do not know all the different brands of farrier knives. I have seen 9 or 10 names. I use 4 different ones:
Mora (Sweden), Hall (Canada), Ukal (France) and Diamond (Taiwan).


Hall is a competition blacksmith and farrier to the Calgary Stampede (The Greatest Horse Show On Earth.)
You will learn, soon enough, that you really need both a right and a left handed knife.
I need to post this to see your link. Back in a minute.


OK, I had a look = exactly what I like and, they forge both RH and LH blades. Good stuff.
See the hook at the tip? A mini-scorp like that, by itself , might set you back another $40.00.
This is a deal. The hook is for cleaning out the frog on a horse's hoof.
For a caever, it's the deep bottom corners of dishes and such. In between the tines of a salad fork.
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post #14 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conner.Michaux View Post
I tried to do some carving today on some maple, but dang! thats way harder that it looks, my hook knife is razor sharp but for some reason im having a huge amount of difficulty with it. I cant get more than a tiny shaving off.

I think it would be way easer with a gouge and mallet. for me atleast, Ill take a look at some crooked knives too
Yea, maple is hard to carve. I did this project onetime and have never carved maple again.

I do think basswood is to soft for spoons. I think you will have problems with the spoons bending when you are trying to use them. I think poplar would be a better fit.
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post #15 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 10:22 PM
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The next step, whether the hook knife is new or used, is to cut the bevel down from about 25 degrees to 12 degrees for carving.
I have stand-up cards with 12 degree angles drawn on them so I do less guessing!
Clamp the knife handle to the edge of the bench. Gloves on and rip the bevel down with a 7/32" chain saw file.
Lean into it. There's no prize for fiddling around. Gotta get into the hook and it is hard work.



>Hall knives are such hard steel that I wreck a Swiss Oregon chain saw file over 2 knives. I buy a box of 12 at a time.
Only have to do that once.


Now, you use the cs file as a mandrel to work your way up from 600 to 800 to 1,000 to 1,200 to 1,500 grits.
I work with 3M wet & dry fine automotive sandpapers. Last is to hone on CrOx/AlOx scribbled on file card.
From day to day, you won't need to go back to bigger than 800 ever again. A few swipes on the back side flat to keep cutting off the wire edge.
I'll find some pictures but don't hold your breath. The bevel angle change is a big deal.
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post #16 of 36 Old 02-26-2019, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conner.Michaux View Post
Im interested in starting to carve spoons, I have a Hook knife, Carving knife, And a little carving knife for more detailed work. I have access to a band saw and a chop saw. Is there anything else I need to make spoons? And are there any other hand tools I could get to make the process faster?

Thanks.
Hi Conner,

I've been following along...I carve spoons, and do a lot of other "green woodworking," both for fun and professionally...

Brian T. has you covered in what you need to get going with this...Dried wood and "spoon making" typically don't go together for the most part. This is true "green wood" crafting at its best...

If you ever get a chance Greenwood Fest is a great place to meet others like us...

As for the tools...there are many approaches to this craft...Some traditions are mostly (or all?) "knife work" as you are learning from Brian T., while others are "gouge" based...and some (like me and many others) are a mix of different traditions.

As such, carving gouges of all kinds can be really helpful...both "incanal" (bevel on the inside) and "outcannal" (bevel on the outside) types as each has a specific application to spoon carving methods. The "incannal" (aka "pattern makers gouges") have not been discussed yet, and of the "gouge systems" of wood carving, they are some of the very fastest methods to move wood by hand...and perhaps one of the oldest as well...

Let me know if you would like me to expand on anything?
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post #17 of 36 Old 02-27-2019, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
Hi Conner,

I've been following along...I carve spoons, and do a lot of other "green woodworking," both for fun and professionally...

Brian T. has you covered in what you need to get going with this...Dried wood and "spoon making" typically don't go together for the most part. This is true "green wood" crafting at its best...

If you ever get a chance Greenwood Fest is a great place to meet others like us...

As for the tools...there are many approaches to this craft...Some traditions are mostly (or all?) "knife work" as you are learning from Brian T., while others are "gouge" based...and some (like me and many others) are a mix of different traditions.

As such, carving gouges of all kinds can be really helpful...both "incanal" (bevel on the inside) and "outcannal" (bevel on the outside) types as each has a specific application to spoon carving methods. The "incannal" (aka "pattern makers gouges") have not been discussed yet, and of the "gouge systems" of wood carving, they are some of the very fastest methods to move wood by hand...and perhaps one of the oldest as well...

Let me know if you would like me to expand on anything?
If you get a chance could you give some detail as how the incannal is used?

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post #18 of 36 Old 02-27-2019, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Okay guys i'm really confused about all your saying, i'm very new to wood working, I also have a very tight budget, I cant afford any nice files or multiple grits of sandpaper.

The only things I have for spoons is, A hook knife, and two carving knives, I have no other wood working tools. And the only wood I have access to is dried hardwood lumber.

I can afford to get some wood today, but Im still not sure if I can carve on lumber.

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post #19 of 36 Old 02-27-2019, 01:31 PM
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Can you find some spruce or pine firewood? Maybe a piece of a fence post?
Nothing wrong with those things to play with chips and shavings.
You have all the tools you need. I started with a banged up/used farrier's knife.

"Carving sharp" is a skill that you have to learn.
I've seen it done with extremely fine-grained river stones and a bucket of water.
I want to learn to do that. Old ways. Will take some learning

Since it's winter, your local streams and rivers ought to be really low water.
Long oval banana-shaped smooth, smooth river stones to search for.


These Dragonfly dishes are western red cedar fence post.
Crooked knives all the way.
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post #20 of 36 Old 02-27-2019, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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I have last years Christmas tree in the backyard, thats pine. I don't have anything to cut it up though.

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