Quiet Spoon Club
May 14, 2019 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Master Carver Barn the Spoon plies his trade, silently carving beautiful spoons from start to finish:
posted by Chrischris (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Of course he called his book “Spōn” …
posted by scruss at 12:57 PM on May 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is lovely. There's something about a craftsperson quietly working away with such simple tools. A hatchet, a couple knives and a chopping block.

It's also relevant to my interests as I'll be going to a spoon carving workshop over Memorial Day weekend so I can learn to do the exact same thing. I can't wait!
posted by bondcliff at 1:01 PM on May 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

That spoon's in there, somewhere!
posted by Oyéah at 1:02 PM on May 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I want to know how he sharpens his tools
posted by TedW at 1:39 PM on May 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had the opportunity to take a class from Barn about six years ago, and it was a really great opportunity. I still carve spoons occasionally (though very poorly).

I heard about him through a friend. He was demonstrating spoon carving to some group, which included my friend. Barn had set out some finished pieces, and was demonstrating how he carved them. This friend asked, "How do you get them so smooth, sandpaper?" And Barn, completely full of British contempt, replied, "Sandpaper?! You might as well use a machine!"

I heard that and immediately looked to sign up for a class.

Re: sharpening tools: he taught us a pretty standard Japanese water stone method.
posted by mtrichardson at 3:22 PM on May 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

Wonderful, thanks for this!
posted by carter at 3:35 PM on May 14, 2019

posted by AJScease at 4:22 PM on May 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I took a class in this recently! I learned... that while technically I now know how to carve a spoon, I need to carve many more practice spoons before I’ve got it down.
posted by Secretariat at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Barn co-founded Spoonfest with Robin Wood (Jojo's dad.) Anja Sundberg will be there this year, no wonder it already sold out!

I want to know how he sharpens his tools

How to sharpen a hook knife with Robin Wood

How To Sharpen Your Spoon Carving Hook Knife
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:09 PM on May 14, 2019

I've tried my hand at spoon carving, and while it's not hard to make something that can technically be labeled "a spoon" it's quite someting else that is both beautiful and useful.

I admire his skill with a hatchet also. I've seen a guy create a slender table leg in a minute by first attacking the wood with a hatchet. He did the fine adjustment and finishing with hand planes, but where I'd either spend the afternoon slowly removing wood until I've reached my desired dimensions or have a go with the hatchet and then have to demote my wood to kindling status, he did it quickly and efficiently by just going at it with the hatchet.
posted by Harald74 at 12:05 AM on May 15, 2019

By the way, it's satisfying to make eating and cooking utensils by hand and then using them later. The simplest form is a sharpened stick to roast sausages or marshmallows on an open fire, of course, but even that is worthwhile. I've made a few clumsy spoons that no-one want to use, but I've also made sets of chopsticks that are rather nice to use, even if I'm far from an artisan.
posted by Harald74 at 12:07 AM on May 15, 2019

I spent a year and a half at a woodworking school in Sweden, of which about half was spent on green woodworking, with lots of spoons along the way. I had no idea the spoon-carving world was so huge, with its own celebrities and events and all the rest.

A well made spoon is pretty special. If you can find the right bit of wood, grown crookedly, then you can design the spoon to make use of the natural curves and the result is super strong despite being relatively thin.

"Sandpaper?! You might as well use a machine!"
That's very common among the spoon purists. A sharp knife will leave a surface smoother than about 4000 grit sandpaper, which feels about as smooth as glass. The key is that the knife slices off each wood fibre leaving a flat surface, rather than sandpaper which abrades the fibres leaving a kind of 'mush', which may look smooth but will become rough as soon as it hits some moisture (you can correct for this by sandpapering then wiping the surface with a damp cloth, sandpapering again, etc.). A knife gets this result in one pass.

(Of course sandpaper is also a tool, and is a perfectly fine choice, but as with any group it's almost become a part of your identity if you're someone who would sandpaper a spoon or not).

I still make a spoon now and then - it's small enough to get it done in an hour or two (at my level; the pros are much faster) but also challenging enough to be rewarding. And it makes a nice present at the end.

And yes, good hatchet work is key. Much easier to take it down to 80% complete with the hatchet than to spend hours with the knife.
posted by twirlypen at 6:56 AM on May 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

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