Every time I get ready for another craft show (about once every three months) there is a flurry of activity in my house to get ready–making sure we have enough business cards, filling up the petty cash, and most importantly, replenishing our stock of spoons and spatulas to sell. You would think that by this time we would have everything streamlined, but somehow, there are always one or two things to learn.
Walnut and pecan are familiar woods to me, but a year or so ago, my brother gave me a chunk of teak left over from a project. I had never worked it before, and I was interested to see if it would make a good spoon. It’s an oily wood, fairly lightweight and easy to work, though a bit prone to tearing out. I think I prefer it for spatulas. The two medium-brown wok spatulas and spoon between them in the middle of the picture above are teak.
My wife has started making several spoons, but she’s seldom completed them. (Something to do with having a bunch of little kids, maybe?) This time she pulled out a half-finished cherry spoon from several years ago and got it done. She made a rounded handle, which she admits isn’t ideal for heavy stirring, but it works fine for light jobs. This one now has a permanent home in our kitchen.
My oldest daughter is now making spoons, too. We each set up on either end of the workbench. We have almost enough tools for us each to work separately, but we do sometimes swap tools back and forth. The Swiss-made gouge and the low-angle spokeshave are particular favorites on both ends of the workbench. And she’s now almost as fast as I am. She sold several of her own spoons at the craft show, and she’s enjoying earning a little extra pocket-money. She’s also much better at sales than I am.
The drawknives get a lot of work when we’re in production mode. The more material you can remove with the coarse tool, the faster the work is. And when you’re actually trying to make a bit of money working wood, then speed is important. We don’t sacrifice the quality of the product or the integrity of the process–everything is still shaped by hand. But we learn to do that work as efficiently as possible.
At the end of a long day at the workbench, it’s a pleasure to see a small pile of spoons and spatulas ready for finishing. It’s not every job that ends with a useful, tangible object. I never get tired of picking up a spoon or spatula and saying to myself, “Yeah, I made that.”