How To Carve a Wooden Spoon or Spatula

Carving a wooden spoon or spatula is a fun woodworking hobby that results in a functional piece of art. The design and style possibilities of spoons and other kitchen utensils are endless, allowing you to be very creative. Spoons make excellent presents and when priced appropriately, they can be quick sellers at art and craft shows. In most cases, a wooden spoon can be finished in about one hour. So get out your whittling knife or your power carver and lets create a spoon!

Learn how to carve wooden spoons and spatulas. This fun DIY project can be completed with either power tools or hand tools like a whittling knife and a chisel.

There are many ways to go about carving a spoon. To meet your style and your tool selection, I have divided this DIY article into two sections. The first section walks through creating a spoon using only some simple hand tools. The second section provides steps for people who prefer to incorporate more power tools into woodworking. Maybe you will prefer to use a combination of both hand and power tools.

Stock selection:

If making a stirring or serving spoon, I would recommend finding a piece of wood between 1/2″ (1.3cm) and 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick, and approximately 12″ (30 cm) in length, and 2.5” (6cm) in width. As shown below, you might want to make two spoons from a single board. You can use any type of wood to create a spoon. However, a spoon made from a hardwood like walnut, cherry, or maple will stand up better to the rough uses in the kitchen. Note: if you are new to hand carving, you might want to begin with a softer piece (e.g., basswood). Furthermore, you might also want to read the article “Wood Carving: Basic Tips and Techniques“. On the other hand, if you are a little more experienced with carving, you might want to look for some stock that has a few bends and twists!

A. How to Create a Wooden Spoon using HAND TOOLS.

Step 1. Draw a rough outline of the desire spoon on a piece of wood.

The spoon pattern shown below can be resized or scaled to match your piece of wood.

Mark a spoon pattern on a board - template.
Mark a pattern of a spoon on a board.

Wooden spoon template pattern.
Possible dimensions for your wooden spoon.

Step 2. Cut out the outline of the spoon.

You can use a handsaw, coping saw, keyhole saw, Japanese saw, or even a hacksaw to cut out the outline of the spoon.

Cut out wooden spoon using a hand saw.
Using a hand saw to cut out the pattern.

Step 3. Use a rounded gouge to carve out the bowl of the spoon.

Push the gouge forward into the wood making cuts towards the center of the bowl. Then flip the spoon 180 degrees and repeat from the other direction. At this point, you should have curls of wood facing in both directions. Keep removing more and more wood, as you get closer to the outer walls of your spoon. Note: If you tried to remove the wood from only one direction, it would most likely cause an area to tear or split out.

Hand carving the bowl on a wooden spoon.
Hand carving the bowl on a wooden spoon.

Why carve the bowl first? This helps set the parameters for the rest of the shaping and helps align the bowl with the handle. Secondly, carving the bowl is easier if the spoon is sitting flat on a work surface. If you carved the outside of the bowl first, the spoon would more likely want to rotate while carving.

Step 4. Shape the outside of the bowl and handle.

Using a whittling knife, drawknife, or spokeshave shape the outside of the handle and the outside of the bowl. Quick, light strokes work the best. Ideally, the outside of the bowl should have the same shape as the inside. Aim for a wall thickness of between 1/8 and 3/16.

Shape or carve wooden spoon with a whittling knife.
Using a whittling knife to shape the handle.

Step 5. Sand the wooden spoon.

Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and progressively work your way through finer and finger grits until you reach the desired level of smoothness.

Hand sanding the wooden spoon.
Hand sanding the wooden spoon.

Step 6. Apply a food safe finish and enjoy.

Apply a food safe finish to the wooden spoon.
Apply a food safe finish.
Finished wooden serving or stirring spoons.
Ready for serving.

B. How to Create a Wooden Spoon using POWER TOOLS.

Step 1. Draw a rough outline of the desire spoon on a piece of wood.

The spoon pattern shown below can be resized or scaled to match your piece of wood.

Mark a spoon pattern on a board - template.
Mark a pattern of a spoon on a board.

Wooden spoon template pattern.
Possible dimensions for your wooden spoon.

Step 2. Cut out the outline of the spoon.

To cut out the outline you might want to use a band saw, scroll saw, or jig saw.

Cut out wooden spoon blanks on band saw.
Using a band saw to cut out the pattern.
Cut out wooden spoon blanks using jigsaw.
Using a jigsaw to cut out the pattern.

Step 3. Carve out the bowl of the spoon.

Use a power carver with a rounded gouge to carve out the bowl of the spoon. Push the gouge forward into the wood making cuts towards the center of the bowl. Then flip the spoon 180 degrees and repeat from the other direction. At this point, you should have curls of wood facing in both directions. Keep removing more and more wood, as you get closer to the outer walls of your spoon. Note: If you tried to remove the wood from only one direction, it would most likely cause an area to tear or split out. Note: The inside of the bowl can also be completely removed using power sanding (see Step 7).

Power carving the bowl on a wooden spoon.
Using a power carver to remove wood.

Step 4. Prepare the blank for the lathe.

Make two shallow cuts in the center of the handle. This will help hold the piece in the drive center on the lathe. Note: if using a two-prong drive center, you would only need to make one cut. Next drill a shallow hole on the top of the bowl. You will position the live center in this hole.

Make wooden spoon lathe drive center.
Create notch for drive center.

Close-up of notches for drive center.
Close-up view.

Drill hole in spoon for live center.
Hole drilled for live center.

Step 5. Mount the blank on a lathe and turn the handle round.

You can use a variety of tools to turn the handle including bowl gouges and carbide tip scrapers.

Wooden spoon blank mounted on lathe.
Wooden spoon blank mounted on lathe.

Turn handle on wooden spoon using a carbide cutter tool.
Turning handle using a carbide cutter.

Turning handle on wooden spoon using a bowl gouge.
Turning handle using a bowl gouge.

Step 6. Sand the handle.

With the lathe turned on sand the the handle on the spoon.

Sanding the handle on the wooden spoon with the lathe on.
Sanding the handle with the lathe on.

Step 7. Power sand the wooden spoon.

Sand the outside and inside of the bowl using power tools such as drill or Dremel. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and progressively work your way through finer and finger grits until you reach the desired level of smoothness.

Sanding the outside of the bowl on the wooden spoon using a belt sander.
Sanding the outside of the bowl.

Using a Dremel to sand the bowl of the wooden spoon.
Using a Dremel to sand the bowl.

Using a drill to sand the bowl on a wooden spoon.
Using a drill to sand the bowl.

Step 8. Apply a food safe finish and enjoy!

Apply a food safe finish to the wooden spoon.
Apply a food safe finish.
Finished wooden serving or stirring spoons.
Ready for serving.

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4 thoughts on “How To Carve a Wooden Spoon or Spatula

    • May 16, 2018 at 3:58 pm
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      Jake, Great article. Excellent instructions and pictures. Thanks, Bill

      Reply
  • May 21, 2018 at 4:43 am
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    Thanks for the dual approach. This allows me to figure out how to integrate hand and power tools effectively on rhis project

    Reply
    • May 25, 2018 at 7:42 am
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      Nina, Like many woodworking projects, by using power tools, I can reduce my time in half or more. This allows me to sell my items more reasonably priced or I am more likely to give them away as presents. Thanks, Bill

      Reply

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