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Monday, 13 April 2015

Teaching woodcarving at my studio in Bristol - spoon carving lessons in the sunshine

Yesterday, I spent a very pleasant day teaching two students spoon carving at my studio.



First, we discussed different kinds of tools that were available and the pros and cons of each. There were a selection of several different styles of axes, knives, hook knives and spoonbit gouges for them to try out and see which they preferred.

Both chose cherry wood to make their spoons, which I have to say is one of my favourite carving timbers. It's great for spoons as it carves well, is non-toxic and has nice colours and grain patterns throughout. Another good timber is sycamore (Acer pseudo-platanus), a tree that I have heard was introduced into Britain in ancient times for the purpose of making eating utensils .

First, we cleaved the logs using different kinds of axe and also discussed using a froe and mallet.


Then we chatted about different knife carving techniques that would be useful. I recommended a couple of books for further reading (Swedish Carving Techniques by Wille Sundqvist and Green Woodwork by Mike Abbott) and let them have a flick through each if they wanted to. There was also a spoon carved by Barn the Spoon to hand, for inspiration and to discuss the finer points of spoon design if it was required.

We then spent a few hours happily carving, with me on hand for advice if needed. We discussed regrinding the blades of the widely-available Frost hook knives so that they work better, although both of them preferred using the spoonbit gouges to hollow out the spoon bowl. To be honest, I prefer to use the gouges for this job and so, apparently, does Mike Abbott. There was also time for a chat after lunch about sharpening tools and honing them using a strop.


The spoons were coming on nicely by the end of the day and were taken home to be worked on until the next session. I'm looking forward to the next workshop in May, when we will discuss transferring images onto panels and carving them using traditional hand tools.

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