As some of you know, I am looking forward to carving Swedish-style spoons this summer in Jogge Sundqvist’s class at Country Workshops (www.countryworkshops.org) –
but sometimes in my day job I need to carve spoons that represent those used by English settlers in Plymouth c. 1627. I know just about nothing of the spoons used then, other than having seen a few at the Mary Rose years ago ( http://www.maryrose.org/)
I carve them from maple usually, having riven out radial blanks. This way I can get a lot of spoons from one small section of firewood. I broke up a piece of maple last week that was about 10″ in diameter, and about 2 feet long. I have made 25 spoons from it thus far, and have that many again, I think. plus a lot of twisted discarded wood for firewood.
I came up with a simple rig to hold the riven & hewn flat blank so I can quickly gouge out the bowl of the spoon. It’s just a thick scrap of oak board, with two pieces of pine nailed to it; these are slightly angled towards each other. Then I just drive the blank into this wedge-shaped space; I use a holdfast to secure the whole thing to the bench.
I use a bent gouge & mallet to rough out the bowl shape. I trace a repro pewter spoon for the outline, then a few strokes with gouge & mallet have the basic shape hollowed out.
after the mallet; I then refine the rough bowl with hand-pressure on the gouge.
I did not photograph the whole process by which I make these; but in the photo below you can see one where I have sawn shoulders in just above the bowl, then I split down to these saw-cuts to define the section that will be the handle. From there is hatchet & knife work.
Nathaniel Adams, Sr., a turner in Boston had an extensive inventory that included many items not necessarily made in his shop. Among these were “4 grosse of woodden Spoones 4s. pr. grosse” which came then to 16 shillings. Now, a trained tradesman at that time (1675) might make 2 shillings a day in Boston…depending on many factors; time of year, with or without meat, etc. – but however you cipher it, a person making these spoons in 17th-century New England was a.) making lots of them, and b.) not earning much for them. I was thinking I might be able to make 5 or 6 dozen in a day; but I wouldn’t want to make them the next day, that’s for sure.
Dave Fisher and his patient family came to visit a while back, and Dave gave me a very nice spoon, in cherry. Thanks, Dave. See his website here: http://davidffisher.com/home
and the spoon is here: