Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kitchen Spoons....

A wooden kitchen spoon is one of those items that’s easy to make and saves the environment as well.  First, you don’t have to consume gasoline driving to the store to buy one.  Second, your spoon is produced locally from a small branch you just pruned in your yard.  The product is derived locally thus deleting the expense of manufacturing and transportation.  To make your spoon all you need is a sharp knife, a few grits of sandpaper and some food-safe mineral oil.

I make my own knives because I enjoy making things but you can purchase a knife at any number of places.  There are knives made specifically for woodcarving but you don’t necessarily have to go that route.  Any good quality carbon-steel pocket knife can be used to whittle out a spoon.  The main thing to remember is that the blade shouldn’t be too long.  I prefer a two or three inch blade.  Also, a Scandinavian or a hollow-ground knife is preferable to a convex grind in woodworking.

I used this knife to make the spoons. 

The kitchen spoons presented here are made from a local wood called Wright’s acacia (Acacia wrightii).  It is a somewhat brittle wood from a small tree that like its cousin the mesquite grows in twists and turns.  In other words, these small trees don’t like straight lines.

I used a pruning saw to cut the branch and then completed the work with one of my crooked knives.  Making the spoons took about an hour or perhaps a bit more.  The crooked knife allows you to shave the wood and therefore not a lot of work is needed with the sandpaper.  After shaping the spoons I went from 80 grit to 100 grit and then 150, 220, 340, 400 and finally 600 grit.  This makes for a smooth finish that takes the mineral oil well.  Rub on a thin coat of food-safe mineral oil and let it stand for about an hour.  Then wipe the excess oil off.  I also made a monster stirring spoon for my cousin who lives nearby so that Adela who works for her can stir boiling strawberry jam and not get scalded.  I should have taken a photo of that stirring spoon made from mesquite because it was beautiful.  It’s too late now because these pretty kitchen spoons start looking drab after they’ve been used.

Almost any sort of wood works but best check the wood you select to make sure it doesn’t have any toxins that might leach into whatever you’re mixing.

Making a stirring spoon is perhaps the easiest spoon to carve because it requires no bowl.  I use one of my hook knives to make the bowls in scoops and ladles.

If you’ve never made a spoon then may I suggest you start with a mixing spoon in order to accustom yourself to severing wood grains.  That’s another post but let me leave you with this recommendation.  Immediately after cutting your branch seal the ends with some sort of non-toxic wood glue.  This is important because on a small branch the inner core will usually begin cracking almost immediately.  We’ll talk more about making spoons in a later post.