How I Carve A Spoon Part 3

Part three is the exciting conclusion of this series on spoon carvingthe finishing process.

Spoon on the left is still fresh off the band saw, spoon on the right has been worked over on the shavehorse and is now ready for some sanding.

There are three kinds of woodworkersthose who don’t have a card scrap, those who have a scrape and think they know how to use it, and those who have a scrape and know how to use it.  I know this because I have been all three of these woodworkers, and have only recently moved in to the “in the know” category.  After watching this video by Michael Pekovich on the right way to sharpen your scraper ( http://www.finewoodworking.com/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesArticle.aspx?id=34742),  I realized not only did I not know how to properly sharpen a scrape, but also that I was spending way too much time on it.

A spoon bowl after being carved out with the gouge.

My die grinder with a 1″ Kutzall Burr tool. Smooths out the gouge marks, but leaves lots of tool rash.

I don’t have a proper electric die grinder, but this rotozip workskinda. It’s as gentle on your hands as a jack hammer, but adding a ghetto-rigged speed-controller (consisting of an electrical box, two wall sockets, and a ceiling fan speed-controller) into the mix, makes it functional. It was free, as it should be, because the rotozip is a worthless tool in a fine woodworking shop.  It was a cast off from my fathers “putz-around-the-house-and-fix-things” tool museum.  I could write an entire blog about the stupid tools my dad buys (or maybe they’re not so stupid; I’m using them), but still I wish he would consult with me about his tool purchases, because I’m the only one who is ever going to be using them. Anyway, it has made hundreds of spoons, but, thankfully, it is starting to sound more and more like the smoothie machine at an upscale coffee shop I frequent. (Why are they so loud? It’s only a smoothie machine; it crushes soft fruit. How much horse power do you need for that?) This seems to me to be the death cry of my rotozip. It’s my mission in life to kill this angry little misappropriated tool.

King Arthur Inflatable Round Sander attached to a drill press. Yes, this my dust collection hood—a funnel + 15 ft of discarded pool hose + wire and zip ties = dust free sanding (almost free, cost about $3).

Spoons sanded and ready to oil.

I have used several different kinds of oil for my spoons and they all work just about as well. My steps for oiling spoons has developed over time to include a screwed up glaze or a self imposed fail safe to compensate for over looked mistakes. The first step is to oil the spoons and then get them out of the dirty shop. They are intended for use with food, so keeping them clean is a priority. Despite my own personal grooming habits, which are hit-and-miss at best, I do try and keep sawdust out of food. Oiling the spoons is the most satisfying step. Freshly oiled they look great (as seen above), but once again that nasty tool rash pops up. No matter how meticulous I am with my finish work, things get missed. After the first coat of oil I would love to relax, take stock in what I’ve done, and declare that “it is good”, while moving on to my next woodworking triumph, but inevitably their will be flaws. The next step is to wait. After a day or two most of the oils are absorbed, but the grain remains bright making it a good time to check for dents and dings, preferably in sunlight.  Back in the shop they receive there final detail sanding/scraping and are now ready for an oil/wax finish. This waiting period is very important. It’s real easy to eagerly anticipate the final product, but if I put something out there with a flaw that’s the first thing people are going to see. It could be 99% perfect, but if there is one flaw people will notice. Pricky pickys! No, just humans obeying natural impulses to notice irregularities like a mother’s inspection of her son heading out the door to church who will inevitably get a spit bath with an old Kleenex. It’s also in my nature to get ahead of myself, but the “oil-wait-sand-wax” series of steps helps solve both those problems, however, age is the only thing that will eliminate the spit baths, eventually.

There are many different food safe products on the market such as food grade mineral oil, butcher block oil, and so on… I prefer walnut oil, because it smells the best. Right now, I’m using a oil/wax mix, which stays soluble when heated. I heat up and mix 4 parts oil with 1 part farmers market bee’s wax. The bee’s wax (as in “none of your..”) keeps the wood grain brighter longer than oil alone.

Well, this article has succeeded in allowing for me to insult both my parents (Sorry, Mom; Sorry, Dad), to exploit you for a few cheep laughs, and gave you the final steps in How I Carve a Spoon. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about spoons or anything else you might have a question about.

Spoons!

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