by Peter Follansbee
A wooden spoon – you can get one for a dollar in many places. It’s just a stick with a hollow shaped at one end. Why go to any bother over such a thing? Use them to stir sauces, dole out rice and beans, then forget about them. But like much in woodworking, the hand-carved spoon is in another sphere than its mass-produced substitute.
I have worked wood for more than 30 years, and made several households’ worth of furniture both simple and complex. The spoon remains a greater challenge than my most ambitious court cupboard or joined and carved chest. This aspect of woodworking is about tradition, design, shapes, forms and function. In spoon carving, you learn about edge tools, green wood and body mechanics – all while sampling a variety of local woods that might otherwise never make it to your workbench.
The spoon carving I learned from Jögge Sundqvist, his father, Wille Sundqvist, and Drew Langsner is part of a Swedish tradition, the revival of which was really spearheaded by Wille. My first attempts were thick and clunky.
One nice thing about spoons is that you get another chance to get it right in just a couple of hours or less. Another nice thing is that you can do most of it – other than the hatchet work – anywhere; you don’t really need a dedicated shop space.
Video: “The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife,” a documentary about Swedish craftsman Wille Sundqvist, available at Country Workshops and Pinewood Forge.
Blog: Read Peter Follansbee’s blog, Joiner’s Notes.
To Buy: “Swedish Carving Techniques” by Wille Sundqvist (Taunton).