Today I spent several hours in the company of a nice chap called Dan Watson learning how to carve a spoon.
It’s long been on my list of Things I Really Want To Do, along with learn how to draw, and write a novel. A couple of years ago I got a spoon carving knife for christmas from my in-laws. I played with it a bit and promptly popped it on a shelf where it lay, untouched.
Simon, my father-in-law, had organised a day at Dan’s workshop in South Milford, to the east of Leeds. I turned up clutching my knife and an old battered axe I’d picked up for peanuts from eBay.
After a coffee and a chat during which Dan looked over my carving tools (and pronounced them ‘bit blunt, but we can soon sort that’), we had a look at some of the spoons he’s carved. Something to aim for!
So, to work. Dan showed me how to handle an axe properly and we split some willow and got busy trimming off the bark. We’d decided to make a sort of spoon/spatula, and before long, I’d worked it down to a vaguely spoon/spatula sort of shape.
Another cup of tea, more woodshavings…
and we’re making progress. Before long, it’s starting to look more spoon-like.
More tea required, then on to the knife work. Dan has a splendid collection of very nice, ridiculously sharp knives. I was extremely envious and made started compiling a shopping list!
We whittled the spoons down then set to with the hook knife. Carving the bowl was the trickiest bit, but once you get into the swing of it, trying not to take off too much wood at once, it’s extremely therapeutic. Sat on a wooden chair in a small workshop by a little stove, drinking tea, chatting about life, the universe and everything, watching the snow fall through the window…
And, at the end of it, you have one of these.
I am *ridiculously* pleased with my spoon.
It’s a bit wonky and rough around the edges (bit like its maker), but this morning it was a chunk of willow and now it’s a spoony spatula. With a pointy bit for scraping your beans out of the pan.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sharpening my axe and spoon knife to make them properly useful, then set to with a nice piece of cherry wood. This time the whole process went much faster – I was so much more confident with the axe this time around and almost felt my way around the wood.
There was a spoon in there, somewhere. All I had to do was remove the wood which wasn’t it.
All in all, a splendid day out. I highly recommend it.