Monday, May 3, 2010

How To Carve a Welsh Love Spoon

Carving love spoons is a Welsh tradition that goes back to the 1500s. Sailors would spend time at sea making these for their intended sweethearts, who was hopefully waiting patiently for them on a far away shore. Hence the phrase "spooning". They were carved by hand with little more than a pocket knife.

Each symbol on the spoon had a different meaning. Intertwining rope represented their lives together. A flower was a symbol for thoughtfulness and remembrance. A heart was for love, an anchor for the sea, a lock for security and leaves for a growing family.

Today I am going to show you the process of carving one of these fun, legendary spoons. This one will feature intertwining ropes and a flower.

I start out by drawing out my basic pattern on some graph paper.

I then transfer the pattern to a piece of wood using ordinary carbon paper. For a spoon, 1/2" thick stock works best. Here I used walnut. Walnut tends to be more difficult to carve than a lot of other woods. Basswood is probably the easiest. Mahogany is somewhere in the middle.

Next, I cut out the the spoon blank with a scroll saw. It could be done by hand with a coping saw, but a scroll saw makes things go very quickly. I start the cutting process by doing the outlines. I try to stay just outside the lines.

The inside cuts have to be done a little differently. I first drill some holes with a 1/8" bit.

This is where a scroll saw really comes in handy. I just string the blade through the hole I drilled, and make the cut.

Here is the spoon blank, all cut out. It is now ready for the actual carving.

It does not take a lot of carving tools to carve a spoon. For this project I only used these three. From top to bottom they are a chisel, a detail knife, and a small bowl gouge. I used the detail knife to round off the rope portion of the spoon.

I use the small gouge to carve the flower petals.

Then I start "roughing out" the bowl of the spoon with a very sharp chisel. It is best to work across the grain to avoid chip out.

When I am done roughing out the bowl with the chisel, I go back and clean it up with my small gouge. After about 15 minutes it looks something like this. I do the back of the bowl with a bench top belt sander. It goes pretty fast that way.

Now it is time to sand and sand and sand, all by hand. I want the bowl of the spoon to be flawless if possible (it never is). I go around and smooth out the entire spoon. I usually start out with 8o grit and work may way down to 1000 grit or even 1500. You want it silky smooth.

This spoon could easily be used everyday in the kitchen,were if I were to use mineral oil as a finish. But I decided to use it just for decoration in my kitchen, so I used a wipe-on poly blend that I make myself.

The finished product! Gotta love it.

Here are a few more that I have done.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Spoons are pretty fun, and not really that hard to do. All of the tools used to make these are available in my online store. Be sure ask questions in the comment section, if you need help. That is what I am here for.


Cheryl said...

This is really neat - thanks for linking it to Craftastic Monday & for adding the party to your link page. I've added your button to my party section:)

{All Thingz Related} said...

I just love these spoons! Thanks for showing us how to make one. Is that a key I see??! Hmmmm, love those too;)

AshTreeCottage said...

How talented you are!!

Susan and Bentley

{All Thingz Related} said...

That is just awesome! I want to make some of the keys I see in the background!!!

Ginger said...

Cool! Neat little spoon! Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!


glor said...

Oh these are beautiful. Great, great work!

Kaysi said...

Wow!! You are amazing!!

{All Thingz Related} said...

Thanks for joining us for Anything Related!

Meg said...

Wow, amazing what you can do with a little piece of wood and some skill! Great tutorial and I love how it all turned out.

I'd love for you to check out my blog for a CSN give away! Have a wonderful day!

Always Nesting said...

Gorgeous again. You have a wonderful talent and I'm so glad you are sharing this on Woo Hoo! Wednesday. Please link back this post to Always Nesting.

Red Couch Recipes said...

Your spoon is just beautiful. I have inherited some Norwegian spoons though, not as intricate of carving, they do have engraving on them from my grandparents circa late 1890's. I treasure them, but do not display as they were a little bit worse for the wear as my kids got at them. Have you ever seen Norwegian ones? Joni

Room to Inspire said...

These ARE really beautiful. Thanks for showing us the "how to" on these beauties. Thanks for linking this up today too!


Kim @ Everything Etsy said...

Great post! My son carves, and I'm sure he'll find your information to be helpful! Thanks!


Kim @ seven thirty three said...

Wow! You have talent! These are beautiful.

Thanks again for linking up at Sugar & Spice.

MessyMissy said...

That is awesome. You are so handy!!! Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Just beautiful! You are very creative and clever.

Jeni @ said...

I want to try this. Very cool idea and I'd love to hang it in my kitchen.

Thanks for you compliments on my window seat--I am a craftswoman..Hear me roar!!! lol!

Andy Porter said...

Wow! I'm seriously impressed by your talent! Well done!

Amanda L. said...

Very cool project. I like that you make me think "I can do that."

Jocelyn Christensen said...

This is very cool! I can't wait to try it!

Fawnda said...

WOW! That is impressive! Fabulouse job! : )

Rhianna said...

Ive been meaning to do one of these for over a year now. I have all the tools, a couple of great books with designs but got sidetracked with life. Thanks for reminding me how much I admire these. Great job on the carving, you make it look easy.

Rhianna at Wyldestone Cottage said...

Wow! I'm impressed! This looks fabulous!!

Thanks for linking up!

Stephanie Lynn said...

Rory - This is amazing. So much work and detail - simply gorgeous. What a fabulous piece!

Hedd said...

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