Tools for Spoon Carving

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Carol-Russell-carving-spoons2.jpgWords: Carol Russell
Photos: Linda Nathan

Spoon carving has established itself as a very popular woodworking project for beginners and experienced woodworkers. It’s got all the elements you need to enjoy the beauty of timber and stretch yourself creatively, with the added bonus of having a practical application as well.

Most carvers in Europe and America are using a curved hook knife for the bowls of the spoon and a straight knife for the back of the bowl and the handle. Spoons are generally carved hand-held using a protective glove on the hand that holds the workpiece.
Up until recently there have been no hook knives available in Australia, now there are three brands on the market – Mora from Sweden, M-Stein from the Slovakia, and Pfeil, the well-known Swiss carving chisel brand. All brands have a range of whittling knives as well.

All brands have a range of different radiuses and also left and right-handed versions for pushing and pulling cuts. Mora also have some double-sided ones that mean you only need to buy one knife. I use these often but you do need to be careful not to push with the back of the knife but rotate it from the handle only.


The key thing you want in a hook knife is for it to be razor sharp and ready to go; they are a bit trickier to hone than standard knives and it’s an inconvenience to have to work on them when you take them out of the packet. The only hook knives that seemed totally work-ready to me were the M-Stein. I only had the right-handed ones to try but I found them very comfortable to use and we became friends very quickly. They cut cleanly on both green and dry timber and held an edge well. The straight whittling knife seemed a little short in the blade and the handle was a bit cumbersome, but the blade was lovely and sharp and I liked it more once I got the feel of it. I’m used to using Flexcut whittling knives with a very compact handle.


Above left to right: Flexcut, M Stein and Mora tools with a selection of spoons carved by Carol Russell.

I have been using the double-sided Mora knives for a while now. They did need a little bit of a hone at the beginning, but I’m very happy with them now. They have a very comfortable handle and will hold an edge very well once you’ve tuned them a little. The single-sided hook knife (#164) is tapered to a fine point and has a 13mm radius. Mora also make two sloyd knives with laminated blades, one 50mm and one 75mm. The Mora knives are beautiful and sharp, and the steel quality is excellent. I liked these knives a lot.

It’s nice to see that we have some options to buy these knives locally now. Spoon carving is here to stay and hopefully we will see more cool tools available here soon. It’s a very good start.

M-Stein from Vesper Tools, phone (03) 5977 8901,
Pfeil and Flexcut tools from Carbatec 1800 658 111,
Mora knives from Timbecon, phone 1300 880 996

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