How to Whittle a Spoon With a Knife (Easy Step-by-Step Guide)

So, you’re bored at home and you want to make something useful to feel accomplished. Well, you’re in for a treat because you’re going to learn how to whittle a spoon with a knife today.

Whittling is an amazing hobby practiced by millions of people from around the world! Beginners are very welcome here!

Everyone should know how to whittle a spoon with a knife. I have been collecting spoons for a while, and I loved the design and the function so much that I learned how to whittle a spoon!

Whittling has been a thing since cavemen when they would bash a sharp stone rock into the head of a branch to make weapons to hunt food. Today, we use it for eating food and as a practice for sharpening our focus and as a meditation.

When you are in the middle of making a delicious treat for you and your family or friends and your spoon breaks, then you have to do something. You will often end up using hundreds of dollars buying spoons that you can make by yourself!

With a good looking piece of wood, everything is possible. Whittling can also be a calming experience for people who enjoy working with their hands but do not have a lot of equipment. It can also be a creative way to meditate and pass-time. 

So, let’s dig in.

choosing wood for whittling a spoon
How to Whittle a Spoon Tools

The Best Wood

There are certain types of wood that are better than others. It would help if you cared about the material because that shapes how it will feel, its weight, how sturdy it is, and many more things. So, let’s cover three of the best wood for whittling.

Basswood

Basswood is a light brown softwood with fine grain. It is very easy to cut, and I highly recommend it for beginners. Because of how soft it is, basswood is recommended for beginners.

Balsa

This is also a softwood that is a lookalike to basswood, with the only difference being slightly darker.  The grains are fine. Balsa tends to turn yellow-brown as you whittle, which is completely normal.

Butternut

It is a popular whittling dry wood. It has bigger grains, but it is equally easy to work with because it is soft. It is also a popular wood that can be found in most lumberyards.

The Best Tools

Although a regular knife or a pocket knife may be good enough, it definitely will not give you optimal results. If I were to decide, the current knife I own, the Markov Wood Carving 106 Knife with Laminated Steel Blade, is an excellent option.

You should also get some 80, 120, and 220 grit sandpaper for a smooth touch and a marker or pen for the design and a cleaner cut. You will also need a protective finish for a shiny touch. A chisel it optional, although it would make your job much easier.

1. Picking Out Your Wood

Picking Out Your Wood How to whittle a spoon

You can use one of the woods discussed right above, or you could cut off a branch of a tree to use as a spoon. You could get a couple of practice branches to start, then move on to wood that you have to pay for once you think you’re good enough.

If you are picking out a branch, remember to cut it slightly longer than you intend your spoon to be and about twice its width.

Once you get your dried wood, split it, clean the wood until you get a straight, clear piece of wood 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick, 10 to 12 inches long, and 2 to 3 inches wide. You can get it premade, so it comes as a clean plank to make your job a little easier. 

If you want to make it yourself, then cut down the piece smaller than the piece of wood you’ve selected (if you don’t know, use the measures above), use your knife or preferably a table saw to cut the wood into a thinner plank so you have to cut much less wood when whittling your spoon.

2. Draw Out A Design

drawing out a spoon whittling spoon
drawing out a spoon on wood whittling spoon

Making a draw knife is absolutely essential for whittling a spoon. Before you start whittling, you need an idea of what shape and size you want your spoon to be, along with the type of spoon head, and what it will be used for. This should be a good starting point.

I draw out my design to draw a line through the center on a piece of paper and draw half the spoon profile on one side of the line, fold the paper in the center, and cut out your drawing shape.

After that, I will draw out my spoon shape on a plank. It helps me to draw down a centerline down the bowl of the spoon. Sketch out the inside of the bowl freehand, leaving a rim of about 1/16 of an inch.

Good handles are less than 3/4 of an inch wide but are often much thinner.

Serving spoons measure up to about 2 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches long while stirring spoons are tinier. If you think otherwise, be my guest to let your preference dictate your design.

Certain people like handles with parallel sides, and others like spoons that get larger at the end and taper. Serving spoons usually have wide, deep bowls but often have many short handles. Mixing spoons, on the other hand, may require shallow bowls and a short handle.

3. Start Shaping The Design

start shaping a design how to whittle a spoon

When shaping the spoon, everyone has different methods. Some people go for the spoon bowl first, and some people go for the outsides first, either way, you’ll arrive at the same solution.

Your very first step should be to cut the plank to make a rough cut. Then, cut around your drawing with a rough shape that should resemble an oval.

After that, you have to get into more details, and you will want to cut around your outlines as close as you can get it. You really can’t go wrong if you want to make your handle a little bigger.

Right after that, use your sandpaper to do an initial run through the outside of your spoon.

Then, draw the width of your spoon. This outline doesn’t need to be perfect, but it will help.

4. Get Into The Handles

carving out the handle how to whittle a spoon

This is now the main part of whittling, actually making the final product.

I would personally start by rounding the ridges by whittling around, gradually making it rounder and rounder. Do small strokes and remove small amounts at a time. If you are a beginner, I would recommend you are cut away from yourself.

You want to start whittling out a handle now by whittling around many times while leaving the top flat. Simultaneously sand the handle. Here is where you really decide how long you want your handle to be and how thick you want it. This can take hours to do. 

5. Get Into The Spoon Head

carving out a handle how to whittle a spoon

As you finish off the handle’s general shape, it is time to dive into the spoon head by doing bowl carving.

I have actually found that working on the back before the front works better. Start by removing the wood around the edges to make a smooth touch. It would be best if you now had a smooth connection to the handle.

For creating the concave(inside), it is possible to do it with a carving knife or hook knife, but I personally use a chisel tool. Dig around to get closer to the outer walls.

There are many spoon carving tools available. I advise you to try many of them, because you may like one tool way better than another – and that can just make whittling a spoon a more enjoyable experience.

6. Finish Up

Finishing up how to whittle a spoon

You are almost done! Now it is time to make final cuts. After you have done that, start sanding everything down. Take your time sanding and smoothing every nook and cranny on the spoon. Start at 80 and work your way up to 220 grit paper.

Now, add a protective finish around your spoon to make it shiny. This will not only make your spoon look amazing, but protect the wood as well. 

What I use to polish this is Flaxseed oil, a healthy compound that polishes wood until you can see a reflection of yourself on that spoon. You are now finished with your wooden spoon! The feeling you get when you have a finished spoon is amazing.

Below is a video of how to do spoon carving with a straight knife.

Last Words

I hope you learned how to whittle a spoon with a knife. Spoon carving is actually easier than you might think and it’s plenty of fun too. This will gradually get easier with enough practice. Good luck with whittling your spoon! 

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