Carving Projects

Skewered Crafter's Green Demonstration - Cooking and Eating Spoons

This spring the Shire of Roxbury Mill hosted their annual Skewered event, this time featuring an open crafter's green for the A&S component. I displayed my woodcarving by bringing along a few examples as well as some pieces of green wood ready for carving. I was able to rough out the cooking spoon while at the event, and finished the spoon by sanding and burnishing at home. I very much enjoyed the crafter's green concept, and having the opportunity to discuss A&S with others in a relaxed environment. 

I based on cooking spoon pattern on the spoon depicted in a 1586 work, The Book of 

the Trades or Das Standebuch by Jost Amman. In it, the Cook (Der Koch) is depicted holding the tools of his trade, including the iconic wooden spoon. These images were supposed to be archetypal representations of individual trades, their environments, and tools; the fact that a spoon is centrally featured is significant and illustrates the everyday necessity of the humble wooden spoon.  

Above: Top, my rendition of a classic cooking spoon, commonly depicted in kitchen scenes. Bottom: a maple eating/soup spoon, with finial so that the utensil can be tied to a belt. 

Der Koch or "The Cook" Das Standebuch by Jost Amman, 1586. 

Mending a Walnut Kuksa Cup


Around 4pm on Friday afternoon, my cat Ripley knocked over a basket containing items to bring for Ponte Alto’s A&S competitions. I had not planned on entering the “Make Do and Mend” competition, but found my walnut kuksa cup chipped from the fall. So I had the means and opportunity! 

I carefully applied wood glue to the small chipped section, and put the chip back in place. I did not have a clamp that was small enough to accurately hold the pieces together, so I flipped the cup upside down and allowed the glue to dry undisturbed for approximately 5 hours. I then used 800 - 1500 grit sandpaper to lightly sand over the crack. When satisfied, I applied a layer of walnut oil to seal the piece. 

In Future: 

For the purposes of mending the kuksa for competition, I used a modern PVA (polyvinyl acetate) wood glue to bond the piece. I have ordered some horse hide glue, a period adhesive for  any future wood mending projects.

Happy to say this entry won Baronnesses' choice at the Mend and Make Do A&S competition at Ponte Alto's Investiture.

Kolrosing, or the Art of Wood Tattooing

Kolrosing is a method of adding fine lines of decoration to wooden objects, found frequently in Scandinavian material culture. It is a very simple technique, using the tip of a knife to incise the surface of the wooden object with the desired design, and then rubbing in a pigment into the cut design. Typical pigments could include ash, coal dust, bark dust, and in a modern context, coffee grounds. The pigment highlights the design and makes it appear on the surface of the wood. A smooth stone can be used to burnish, or rub firmly across the surface of the wood to help smooth the wood fibers down after kolrosing. Any knife can be used to kolrose a design, but a specialized kolrosing knife is shaped like a calligraphy pen, to assist with grip and dexterity. 

Birch Kuksa Cup

As a follow up to my last project, I wanted to source a piece of birch (the traditional wood used for kuksas) and make a traditional tab-handled design. I was able to get a large piece of fresh birch, which I traced a rough outline on and then cut out using a bandsaw. 

Next I began hand carving, completing this piece with a sloyd knife, hook knife, and detail knife. The process of hollowing a deeper bowl in green wood was an entirely different experience than that of working on my dried walnut kuksa; I was able to progress much faster and completed this piece within a week. I sanded and burnished the completed cup. 

Walnut Kuksa Cup

I have a kuksa cup that I brought back from a trip to Oulu, Finland while in grad school; one hope I had when I began carving was to make a kuksa of my own.

Mostly I had to wait until I could source a large enough piece of wood to carve; this ended up being a dried piece of walnut. I cut the piece into the general shape of a cup using a bandsaw, and then used a sloyd knife to carve the general shape and begin rounding the sharp edges.  I used a hook knife to begin hollowing out the bowl of the cup; this process was very slow and labor intensive, involving multiple carving sessions. In order to hollow out the full bowl depth, I also used a wood gouge. This allowed me to expand the depth of the bowl, and access the wood at different angles than my hook knife. 

Finished with walnut oil. Full documentation can be found here. 

Beginning piece of wood from bandsaw.

Beginning to hollow out the bowl; a slow process. 

My more or less carved kuksa; ready for sanding. 

Sanded, at various grits. 

Walnut Eating Spoon

Walnut eating spoon with unique coloring, finished with walnut oil. 

Baking a Spoon: An Experiment

I carved a small coffee scoop in birch, but had heard that baking spoons in the oven would toast the wood and add color to lighter woods. Birch is a fair wood, and I have a few items already made of it, so I used this small piece for an experiment. 

After carving and sanding, I put an extremely light layer of walnut oil on the surface of the scoop, and then wiped it off. The purpose of this is to provide just a light film of oil that will accelerate the coloring process, allowing the spoon to be baked in less time and be less brittle than if it baked longer or at a higher temperature. 

I baked this spoon in the oven on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, at 400 degrees for approximately 22 minutes. The scoop came out of the oven with more color, slightly darker on the bowl than the handle. More trial and error as well as asking questions in the carving community will be needed to figure out how to get a perfectly even coloring, but I was pleased with this first attempt. 

Before baking; placed on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Fresh from the oven with some color, prior to finishing with oil. 

Photos of the baked birch spoon when finished; a nice toasty brown!

Small cherry coffee scoop

Small cherry coffee scoop, finished with walnut oil. This green cherry wood carved like butter and was a joy to work with. I worked on creating a flat surface for future kolrosing decoration and a more detailed finial.

Squared Scoop of Yellow Birch

Squared scoop of yellow birch, finished with walnut oil, processed from a wood billet to finished piece. It's very rewarding to see a spoon emerge from a piece of wood. The billet I used had dried over the last year, which made for a little more difficult carving than green wood. Some slight spalting can be seen. 

Maple Knife/Jam Spreader

Red maple wooden knife/spreader, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. I liked carving the maple as a piece of green wood, much softer than dried maple; I also enjoy the application of a hard wood like maple for a wooden knife. 

Swedish Style Spoon, Spalted Maple

Swedish style spoon of spalted maple, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. The first spoon that I cut out using my new (to me) bandsaw. I completed the carving of this spoon using only my sloyd knife and hook knife. I really like the coloring of the spalting in this piece. 

Walnut Coffee Scoop

Walnut coffee scoop, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. This one will be a Christmas gift for my sister. I really like the coloring in the wood I have on hand and wanted this scoop to be roughly half of each color for contrast. 

Walnut Kayak Spoon

Walnut kayak spoon, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. This design is very sturdy, and can be thrown in a pack without fear of breaking. It is favored by modern backpackers for durability and slim profile. The design has rough origins in Native American material culture. 

Small Walnut Scoop

Small walnut scoop, with interesting coloring, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. A very fun, quick carve. Walnut is a joy to work with. 

Long kitchen spoon out of birch, finished with walnut oil.

Kitchen Spoon of Birch

I've discovered birch is a little difficult to work with it; it tends to be stringy and even with attention paid during sanding, often there are imperfections in the finish. Need to take even more care when in the process using birch for future projects. 

Soup Spoon of  Maple

Soup spoon of yellow maple, finished with walnut oil and beeswax. I really like the color of this piece, and found the yellow maple easier to work with. 

First time doing any sort of detail work; added a very basic finial to the design. This finial has the added bonus of being useful; I designed it to be able to lash a string to it, to hang off of a belt for easy access. 

Walnut "Antler" spoon, finished with walnut oil and beeswax.

Walnut Antler Spoon

This one was a challenge with its curves to carve and sand. Took a long time sanding to make sure I was happy with the end results. 

Birch Teardrop Spoon, Wooden Knives

Birch wooden knife/butter spreader, sanded to 1500 grit and finished with walnut oil and beeswax.

Walnut Cawl Spoon

Walnut cawl spoon finished with walnut oil.

Quick sub-two hour carving using a piece of green birch wood, finished with linseed oil.

Table Spoon of Birch

Table spoon, carved out of yellow birch wood billet and finished with linseed oil.

Sanded up to 1500 grit for a very smooth piece. 

Medieval Slotted Spoon

Slotted spoon with a medieval teardrop bowl. 

Slotted spoon; sometimes you have to improvise.

Walnut Coffee Scoop

Walnut coffee scoop, finished with linseed oil. 

Birch Spatula Scoop

Small Maple Spoon with Kolrosing

Large Basswod Spoon

Walnut Spoon with Kolrosing