Is Birch good for spoon carving?

Is Birch good for spoon carving

When it comes to carving all woods can be carved. The question is therefore how much easy or difficult each particular one is. In the case of spoon carving, there are more feats that will interest a spoon carver that goes beyond how easy or hard a wood is to carve.

In this article, we take a closer look at birch wood. Is Birch good for spoon carving? Read on!

Birch Wood

Birch Wood

Botanical Name: Betula papyrifera

Paper birch is a tough, heavy wood, although it is softer than other birches. Native Americans used its bark to fashion wigwams and canoes, so many still refer to it as “canoe birch.” The wood possesses an attractive figure and is sometimes sliced into decorative veneers.

  • Other Names: White birch, sweet birch, American birch.
  • Sources: Canada, U.S.A.
  • Characteristics: Straight grain; fine texture; wide, creamy white sapwood; pale-brown heartwood.
  • Uses: Turning for domestic utensils, dowels, toothpicks, spools, bobbins, hoops and toys, plywood, and decorative veneers.
  • Workability: Generally good; moderate dulling of cutters; unusual curly grain may pick up in planing; 
  • good bending properties.
  • Finishing: Accepts finishes nicely.
  • Weight: 39 Ib./cu. ft.
  • Price: Inexpensive.

Is Birch good for spoon carving?

Woods for carving spoons should be hard, fairly dense, and close-grained. Birch is an excellent wood for carving spoons and ladles.

Birch is soft to medium hard and very durable wood. Carving it green is a favorite for many spoon carvers. Its cross-grained nature gives the spoon a shiny finish.

Some species of birch like the Masur can be quite challenging to carve once they dry. This is due to the cross-grain that becomes very challenging to handle with a knife.

To avoid such a problem carve your birch while green. Alternatively, you can soften your dry birch wood using these methods.

Some spoon carving tips with birchwood


If you have the luxury to harvest your own logs it’s best to do so in late fall. This is usually the time of the year when your birch contains the least amount of moisture.

They are relatively dormant between growth periods. Additionally, you have the who;e winter ahead of you for seasoning (if not carving green).

Preventing checks and splits

When your birch is drying it will shrink just like all woods do. It wouldn’t be much trouble if the shrinking happened uniformly but it doesn’t.

The unevenness creates stress. this stress is relieved by checking and splitting. So the trick is to minimize the stress but how do you do this?

Correct sawing

When sawing and splitting round stock do saw down the center of the pith. This will relieve much of the stress that develops internally as the wood dries. once you have done this the blanks can change shape without splitting or checking. hence can be stored in this form.

Split wood into small sections

Small wood blanks are less likely to develop cracks than larger blanks. This is because from the outside in, the smaller the section the more evenly it will dry. This is why the best way to prevent splits and cracks in wood for carving is to rough out the blank while green.

Final thoughts

Birch is a relatively easy wood to carve while green and is also strong and durable. Its cross-grained nature adds to the appeal making it favorite wood to spoon carve. If you have some birch give it a try and see what the wood dictates. Hope the tips i shared here help you not only have confidence to spoon carve birch but also help store future carving batches in good plit=free condition. Happy carving!

Hadwin Fisher

I'm basically a "Hobby Whittler." Everything I make is for Personal use, gifts for others, or other Items for charity auctions or other "Causes" i.e. "Local Hospital" Etc. Some health issues are interfering with me doing any large-scale projects in my workshop at this Present Time. That said I can't stay idle, whittling, and writing about whittling with my Friend ken Read keeps me sane and happy!

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