Baptism by Fire: Professional Advice From an Amateur

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As a middle school coach and teacher I like to evaluate the knowledge and ability of students before, during, and after a lesson in order to fully understand where they were, how they progress, and how far they come in the learning process.  I will use volleyball to explain what I mean.  If we are beginning a volleyball unit in class I will give students just enough information to play the game in a fashion that resembles the actual game being taught and let them go at it.  We will do this for a few days before we slow down drastically to discuss proper mechanics, form, technique, terms, and strategy.  We will play the game very slowly for a week or more as I teach fundamentals and make corrections where needed.  When I feel that the kids are ready to resume full on competitive volleyball we will do so.  I find that allowing the kids to play before getting too technical helps them to be more receptive and understanding of my critiques.  This strategy has worked so well with my students that I almost always employ it in any new skill or task that I attempt to learn or further my knowledge in.

When I decided that I wanted to try my hand at spoon carving I watched a few videos on the internet and saw people making awesome utensils using tools that I was thoroughly unfamiliar with.  I was a little discouraged afterwards because I not only lacked what the experts deemed “necessary”, but was totally inexperienced in the craft as well.  As I priced the “must have” tools that I saw being used online and realized that I was probably just smart enough to make a spoon my way and I would attempt to do so before I spent any money on the hobby.  I often get hung up spending too much time and effort on researching what I need and want and lose opportunities to just do and learn through experience.  I regret it every time.

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Above is one of the first spoons that I created.  I used only a chisel, hammer, pocket knife, and sander to make it.  I did not use a stencil, nor did I draw on the wood that I used in order to get a basic shape.  It is made from a piece of pecan that I found floating in the bayou behind my shop.  I know that it is fairly rough, but it is one of my favorite spoons that I have made because it is so oddly shaped, unique, and made from such a pretty piece of wood.  Below is the chisel that I used to make the spoon pictured above.

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There are people in the woodworking community that act as if using “incorrect” or even power tools to complete a project are the project equivalent to committing a felony but I often find that making what you have work can sometimes be even more rewarding.  I now use many of the “necessary” tools when making spoons these days and the correct tools for the job do streamline the process quite a bit.  Some of them such as the draw knife, hook knives, gouges, and hatchet can be seen in the first picture in this post.  I will elaborate on and demonstrate these tools in depth in a later article.

The goal of this post is definitely to encourage people to try their hand at a very fun, simple, and rewarding hobby like spoon carving, but the moral is that no matter what hobby or project you would like to try, do not allow yourself to get caught up in researching tools, techniques, and what to and not to do.  Sometimes it may be more beneficial and even enjoyable to just get creative and accomplish a project with the knowledge and equipment you already have instead of dwelling on what you don’t.  Worst case scenario you only learn what will not work, lose a little time, and end up with a piece of crap result.  I have been there in the past and will surely be there again someday.  I have fortunately found a sector of the population that loves my spoons whether they come out flawless or like nothing more than sanded fire wood, so every one I finish feels like success to me.

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Thanks for checking out my site, below are links to a few carving tools that I have and are a lot more affordable than many of the big brands with similar quality.  If you found this article informative or entertaining please like, comment, and subscribe.  Thank you!

Husqvarna Axe

Wood Gouge Set

Spoon Carving Knife

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6 Comments

  1. Kelsey says:

    This is great advice!!! I always get caught up on trying to do something perfectly and end up never doing it at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your “goal of this post” can be applied to blogging and writing, as well. I’m sure there are right and wrong ways to create posts, but most of us just kind of do our own thing, and that seems to work out just fine. BTW, your last photo reminds me of my 3 girls when they were that age. They’re adorable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert Williams says:

    Very good scoop on making spoons.

    Liked by 1 person

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