Making Stir-Fry Spatulas from Curly Oak

We all know about curly maple, but how about curly oak?  I didn’t know it existed until I started salvaging wood down here in Alabama.  One day I found that some brush had been cleared across the street from my house, and I picked up the bole of a small water oak tree

Curly Water Oak Spatulas 2014 - - 2The water oaks, sometimes called swamp oak, are common around here, and they often go down in storms because of their shallow root systems. The wood is much more close-grained than your usual oaks, so it’s about the only oak that I’ve found suitable for woodenware.

I split the log open, only to find that the whole tree was a knotty corkscrew.  The grain spiraled around the whole trunk, so it wouldn’t split straight. There were a number of other defects, so I only managed to get a few usable pieces, one of which you see here.  I wasn’t sure how to handle the twisty grain, so I sealed the ends and set them aside to dry.   This piece sat around for years until I dug it out last week.

Curly Water Oak Spatulas 2014 - - 1

Moment of truth: yes, my workbench usually is this cluttered. You don’t need much bench space to make a spoon.

The natural twist, I decided, would make great stir-fry spatulas.  Following the grain, I could make a wide spatula with a natural scoop without any grain running out.  The resulting utensil would be both light and strong.  So I drew out two spatulas on the blank and sawed them out with my bow saw.

The wood worked easily, though the curly figure resulted in much tear-out.  I spent more time than usual scraping and sanding.  As with other curly woods, I found that sometimes cutting perpendicular to the grain was the best approach to avoiding tear-out.

The results were well worth the effort.

Curly Water Oak Spatulas 2014 - - 3

These spatulas were some of the first things to sell at last week’s craft show.

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2 Responses to Making Stir-Fry Spatulas from Curly Oak

  1. meeteyorites says:

    Love the re-design of your site!!

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