thinking about spoon shapes

During the bowl-turning class I attended earlier this month, we spent some of our “off time” discussing spoon design. I recall Robin Wood saying something to the effect of  “the game has changed” – meaning there have been great strides in spoon carving in recent years.

I don’t have a large collection of other people’s spoons, but here’s a couple to view. For me, it starts with Wille & Jogge Sundqvist – I met them through Drew Langsner many years ago. So long ago that Jogge & I looked like this:

PF & Jogge 1988
PF & Jogge 1988

Wille’s spoon that I got recently is very slick. From what I know, he always thickens the end of the handle at the finial; and I have tried to keep that in my spoons too. He often hollows the upper face of the spoon’s handle too. Gives the spoon’s shape a lot of “movement.” this spoon is a small serving spoon, the bowl is too big to fit in the mouth. Its front edge is straight across, and the rim of the spoon’s bowl is flat.

wille overall 2

wille finial

Wille end on


I mentioned Jojo Wood’s spoons in a recent post. Here’s one of hers; thin as a whisper in places; note the finial just the opposite of Wille’s, gets thinner at the end, but has an up-turn to move your eye, and fingers. Bowl is crowned across its width; this is something  Jojo strives for in her spoons. This spoon is made from a radial straight-grained blank, not a crook. A real challenge to get a good spoon out of straight stock.

jojo overall 2

jojo end on

jojo profile



One of Jarrod StoneDahl’s spoons. Jarrod does lots of radially split spoons, but this one’s from a crook. Thin at the end, crowned bowl; the bowl follows the crook’d shape very nicely.

jarrod overall


jarrod full profile

jarrod end on

jarrod profile

Thinking about these spoons (and carving my own versions inspired by them) got me to thinking about this old spoon given to me by a friend. Beech, makes me think eastern Europe, not Scandinavia. Thin finial, pointy bowl, crowned across its width. thin as Jojo’s. Radially split. All the knife marks are there on the bottom of the bowl, you can see what direction  the carver worked at different parts of the spoon’s bowl.

old beech spoon

beech profile

beech end on

tool marks beech

tool marks beech 2


By now, most of us have seen this video, filmed in Sweden in 1923.


I just copied it from youtube, thanks to whomever cropped it to be just the spoon-carver. The spoon he makes is a very similar shape to what Jojo, Jarrod and the beech spoon are after  – seems to me anyway. I remember when I made spoons on Roy Underhill’s show, we couldn’t brace the spoon against our sternum, too much microphone noise for the TV guys. I remembered this fellow using his knee as a fulcrum point for knife work. So I swiped that idea and Roy & I used it on the show.


Robin’s excellent post looking at modern makers’ spoons:

Jarrod StoneDahl

Jojo Wood

Me & Roy making spoons



14 thoughts on “thinking about spoon shapes

  1. Thanks for sharing. I love spoon carving. I carve mostly fruit wood, myrtle, red alder, and madrone. Not many people here in Western Oregon do it all by hand. I met a guy at Eugene Saturday Market using a dremel tool to hollow out the bowl and sand it smooth. Has Robin’s Spoon Carving Book finally made it in print yet? I’ve been on a wait list for it for several years now.

  2. “Bowl is crowned across its width”
    Can you clarify what you meant by the above? You used it as what seemed like a point of differentiation from Wille’s spoon but I guess I’m not understanding which point of the design is being pointed out.
    I’ve been carving spoons off and on for 3 or so years and am still striving to find my own ‘voice’ in their design. I have really enjoyed the explosion of creativity within the realm of the simple spoon. I wish I had gotten up to MN for the gathering and had the ability to get to Spoonfest.

    • when I say it’s crowned across its width, look at the spoon end-on – the shots that show the front tip of the spoon. Wille’s is flat across, the others are rounded, or crowned. The forward tip is the highest point, the sides of the spoon’s bowl droop downwards. Jarrod’s, Jojo’s and the old beech spoon all do this. I hope that helps clarify what I’m after…

      • Thank you. That does clarify it for me. You mentioned an entry or two ago how you were looking to learn how Jojo was putting a crank in her straight-timber spoons. How successful were you in picking up her techniques?

  3. Thanks for sharing this info. I’ve only just started carving spoons (after following you for a while, your visit with Roy, and your recent PWW article.) I’m still learning what to even look at when it comes to spoons, so pointing out design considerations and compare/contrasts are very helpful.

  4. Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your regular postings. They’re always interesting and have a particular flavour. I’m not a spoon maker or a carver, just a hand-tools woodworker but I enjoy very much your writtings. I hope to be able to afford a trip to Lie-Nielsen’s one day to take one of your workshops. Meanwhile, thanks, and keep up the good work.


    Julien Hardy Montreal, QC

  5. Great post about an endlessly facinating diversion. That film of the swedish carver – such speed! Even accounting for the choppy editing that fellow chops mighty confindently.
    I often muse on what I consider the ur-spoon – the cupped human hand – and how when you carve a ladle from a crook, especially hollowed from the bark side it seems to take on just that shape all by itself…
    I’d never held other folks examples in my hands until visiting Barn’s shop last year. What a revelation, to be able to twist the shapes and properly understand them, invaluable… Thanks for more inspiration Peter.

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