Color, texture, aroma, pattern, practicality, feel and availability are all properties of wood that bring us to carve with it. And hopefully, sustainability is a property we all look for now.
The wood you choose for spoon carving must be part of the design for satisfactory results. If it’s a working spoon that we desire to carve then the wood has to be strong to stand against mechanical abuse. On the other hand, ornamental spoons can be carved from any desired wood.
In this article, I list the best woods for spoon carving. The list is not in any order and is neither exhaustive. These are the woods that I have found pleasant for spoon carving.
Best wood for spoon carving
Birch is by far the most popular wood for spoon carving. This is because it is quite easy to carve. Birch is a choice for Scandinavian wood carvers. Easily obtainable and carves well.
Birchwood is however not as easy as basswood. But unlike basswood birch is cross-grained, strong, and durable. Bich takes finishes well.
Birchwood has the perfect level of hardness that any spoon carver can desire, easy enough to whittle, while still producing a strong spoon that can withstand use in the kitchen.
Birchwood is also a sustainable tree in that it grows fast and is fairly short-lived. If birch is not locally available try our next best wood for spoon carving.
Sweet chestnut is a popular wood for spoon carving because it has a unique and attractive grain pattern. It is also a sustainable choice, as chestnut trees are relatively fast-growing and can be coppiced, which means they can be cut back to the stump and will regrow. This makes chestnut an environmentally friendly option for spoon carvers who are concerned about sustainability.
While alder may not be the best choice for detailed carving due to its softness, it is still a popular wood for spoon carving because it is easy to work with. Alder is also a relatively affordable wood, which makes it accessible to beginner spoon carvers who may not want to invest a lot of money in materials.
Walnut is moderately heavy, close-grained, hardwood, and very durable. It is dark brown in color and very beautifully marked.
Being tough means it is laborious to work it but the beautiful figure and appeal of the end product amply repay.
The best mahogany is still that from Honduras, which is fine-grained although relatively soft. Cuban mahogany is dense and varies in hardness; South American varieties tend to be grainy and splinter easily; Philippine commonly available is coarse and the poorest of the lot. So much for mahogany, which is familiar because of its long record of use as a furniture wood.
Holly comes from the tree Ilex aquifolium and is mainly found in central Europe all the way to west Asia. Holly wood is dense-grained and hard-wearing.
This wood is, however very light and may not be pleasing to some often prefer using stain with it.
Applewood is another excellent option for spoon carving. Like hazel, it is relatively easy to carve, making it a good choice for beginners. Additionally, apple wood can have exciting tones between the dark heartwood and lighter sapwood, which can add interest to the finished product. However, it is important to note that apple wood is not as strong as some other types of wood, so it may not be the best option for spoons that will be subjected to heavy use. Nevertheless, apple wood can produce beautiful spoons that are perfect for display or light use.
Ash wood is a popular choice for spoon carving because it is tough and durable. However, it can be challenging to work with, particularly when it is dry. Spoon carvers who choose to work with ash should be prepared to use sharp tools and take their time to achieve the desired result.
Another tough wood is used for kitchen utensils. Tough is important in selecting the best wood for spoon carving as spoons are meant to encourage heavy use.
Many similar characteristics of other fruit woods. The dense character allows for detailed carving.
Cherry is an exceptionally strong hardwood. Its close grain makes it ideal for coming into contact with moisture. Cherry is great to work with when it’s green and then hardens as it dries out, which means you can carve the handle of a spoon longer and thinner while still maintaining strength.
It has twisted branches and stems, making it enjoyable to carve with.
Hazel is a type of wood that is easy to carve, making it an excellent option for beginners. It is relatively soft, which means that it allows for detailed carving, and it can produce a smooth finish. However, some people may find the color and grain of hazel to be somewhat plain, which can make it less attractive for certain projects. Despite this, hazel is a strong and durable wood that can stand up to heavy use, making it a great choice for spoons that will be used regularly.
Lime wood is another type of wood that is great for spoon carving. It has a very even texture, which makes it easy to work with, and it can produce a smooth finish. Limewood is quite soft, which means that it may not be the best option for spoons that will be subjected to heavy use. However, it is an excellent choice for spoons that will be used for display or light use. Additionally, lime wood can be a great wood for beginners to practice their carving skills on.
Complex and dense, great for detailing. Its close uniform grain makes maple the perfect choice of wood to prepare, serve and cut food on. It’s incredibly hard-wearing and stands up to daily use.
Tough, dense wood suitable for gouges and chisels. But it is strong and very durable. Its perfect for items that will see a lot of day-to-day use. When seasoned, it can be quite tough to work with but finished item will last. On the other hand, green oak is easily worked with hand tools making it a very suitable choice for not only spoons but bowls and vessels.
Plum wood is a darker, mahogany-colored wood that is great for spoon carving. Like apple wood, it can produce exciting tones between the heartwood and sapwood. Additionally, it is a strong and durable wood that can stand up to regular use. Plum wood can be sanded to a high sheen, which can add to the beauty of the finished product. However, like hazel and apple wood, plum wood may not be the best option for spoons that will be subjected to heavy use, as it is not as strong as some other types of wood.
Sycamore wood is a popular choice for Welsh love-spoon carvers. It carves easily when green, which makes it an excellent option for beginners. Additionally, it spalts easily, which can add interest to the finished product. However, like lime wood, sycamore is quite soft, which means that it may not be the best option for spoons that will be subjected to heavy use. Nevertheless, sycamore wood can produce beautiful spoons that are perfect for display or light use.
Summary of best woods for spoon carving
In conclusion, there are many woods that can be used for spoon carving, each with its own unique properties and benefits. Ultimately, the choice of wood will depend on personal preferences and the specific requirements of the project. Whether you are looking for a strong and durable wood like birch or oak, a flexible and beautiful wood like chestnut or walnut, or an easy-to-carve wood like holly or lime, there is a wood out there that will meet your needs. So, experiment with different woods and enjoy the process of carving your own unique and functional spoons. And always remember to prioritize sustainability by choosing woods that are locally available and responsibly sourced.