Making Wooden Spoons (Quickly)

Our local art museum, the Mobile Museum of Art, is hosting an arts-and-crafts fair next month.  I don’t usually sell my work at craft shows, but the table fee was reasonable, so I signed up.

The problem is that I don’t have a lot of surplus spoons on hand, so I’ve been in production mode this weekend. That means I’ve had to streamline my workflow.  Because–let’s be honest–I enjoy the process as much as the product, so I don’t usually work as quickly as I can.

First, I pulled out some stock that I had been saving for spoons: these boards have some bad end-checking, and they were cut to a very uneven thickness (a casualty of my ineptitude at the bandsaw).  The figure isn’t spectacular enough for use in furniture, but it should make great spoons.

Pecan Spoon Spalted Stock 11-2014

Usually, I select stock to minimize waste, but this time I’m working to maximize the appearance of each spoon.  I’m also not bothering to work right up close to defects like knots and splits.  I don’t want any surprises after I’ve roughed out each blank.  My templates help me plan out exactly what parts of the board will become spoons.

If I’m making one spoon at a time, I cut out everything by hand, but this time I cut each blank to rough shape on the bandsaw.  Normally, I find that the whole ordeal of taking a single blank down to the bandsaw, turning everything on, putting on my dust mask, tensioning the blade, making the cuts, de-tensioning the blade… oh, shoot–it’s just not worth it for two cuts!  But when I’m cutting out seven spoons all at once, the machine is faster.

I still shape the spoons by hand with a large gouge, drawknife, and spokeshave, but I do contract out some of the finishing work.

Pecan Spoon Making Helpers 11-2014

My wife is pretty quick with the card scrapers, and I even taught her how to resharpen them!  I can sometimes get one or two of the kids to do a little sanding.  Other times, they just keep my company as they crack pecans.  (It was a pecan-sort-of-an-afternoon.)

By the end of the evening, I had seven pecan spoons ready for final sanding.

Pecan Spoons 11-2014 - - 2

Nearly all of them have at least a little spalting in them.

Pecan Spoons 11-2014 - - 1

I need to do a lot more, in both pecan and walnut.  But a few more afternoons like this, and I’ll have a good stock of spoons ready for the show.

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