Great article from a member of the Knol plaform

How to Make A Spoon Carving Knife

Make a blade, a handle (scales) and get to work making useful things for the kitchen

We have generally lost so many very basic skills and making a simple knife to work wood is beyond the technological capacity of most people in the western world. Sad, but too true. And yet it is fun, it offers a sense of tactile satisfaction. The use of this knife is therapeutic, leading to feelings of accomplishment. And knives are tools. Sadly, most have come to regard knives as weapons, forgetting the simple pleasure that can arise from whittling on a stick or making something useful for the kitchen.

Making a simple spoon knife

You can't buy anything as effective as this in a store, so you will need to make your own. It is is designed for carving the bowl shape at the working end of a spoon. With this knife and a sloyd knife you can make anything you want. In fact, you can remake yourself into a craftsman. It just takes a little carving. But, I will remind you that you won't find everything you need in this knol. It takes practice to actually get good at something. Your first efforts may not result in what you see here, but things are made more meaningful and useful by the effort we have invested in them.

Supply List

  • Steel for blade, approximately 3/32  in. thick, x 1/2 in. wide by 5  in. long
  • 1/2 pint oil
  • Walnut for scales:
  • 1 piece 1/4 in. x 1 in. x 18 in. long
  • 1 piece 1/8 in. x 1 in. x 18 in. long
  • Brass pins: 2 pieces 3/16 in. diameter x 7/8 in. long
  • epoxy glue
  • 600 grit extra fine sandpaper


  • grinder
  • pliers
  • drill press(preferred) or electric drill
  • propane torch
  • oven
  • sander
  • dowel
  • 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper

PicasaWeb Slideshow

Step-by-step instructions

1. Step One- grind blade

Use a grinder to shape the steel and begin forming the edge. For a right handed knife hold the steel from the right side of the wheel. For a left handed knife, work from the other side.

2. Step Two- bend blade to shape

Use pliers to bend the end of the sharped steel blank. The degree of curvature in the blade determines how deep you can go into the bowl end of the spoon. First study spoons in your kitchen and see the level of curvature you will need. It should be curved slightly more than is required to conform to the shape.

3. Step Three- drill holes for pins and scales

Use a 3/16" diameter drill bit in the drill press to drill for the brass pins to fit. Having a fence on the drill press is important. If the drill were to catch and the blade to spin accidentally, you could be cut.

4. Step Four- heat treat the blade

Use a propane torch to heat the end of the knife blank to cherry red. This is best done in the dark. You will see the steel turn a variety of colors as it heats up. When it is cherry red, quench it quickly in oil. This hardens the steel so the knife will hold an edge, but it also makes the steel brittle requiring the next step.

Step 5- temper the steel

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place metal cookie sheet inside. When the oven has reached temp, put the heat treated knife blades on cookie sheet inside for 20 minutes. then remove and allow to cool to room temp.

6. Step Six- make scale stock

Rip stock as shown to form the scales or handle of the knife. A ripping cut in one side, only partially through provides a secure housing for the knife blank on three sides as shown. Next cut to length to fit blade.

7. Step Seven- glue scale on one side

Use epoxy glue to hold the knife blank in the groove. Then use the drill press to finish the holes through the first side.

8. Step Eight- glue other side

Glue on the other side using epoxy and then drill to finish the holes through to both sides. Whether you are making a left or right handed knife yours should look like one or the other of these.

9. Step Nine- begin shaping the handle

Use a sander to shape the edges of your knife to be comfortable to your hand. Of course another carving knife could be used for this! But either way, this is a job that requires skill and attention.

10. Step Ten- install brass pins

Cut 3/16" brass rod into short pieces and glue them in the holes using epoxy glue.

11. Step Eleven- finish

After sanding and sanding Iapply a hand rubbed Danish oil finish to the knives to protect the wood and bring out its  beauty.

12. Step Twelve- sharpen

Use a dowel wrapped in 600 grit extra fine sandpaper to sharpen the cutting edge. Use a flat sheet or sharpening stone to hone the back side of the blade. Now you are ready to carve a spoon.

Advanced Techniques

Now you can use your knife to carve spoons. You will also need a sloyd knife or other type of whittling knife as shown in the photo above. You will find that green wood works best for carving spoons. So cut a stick, use an axe to split it in two and then begin carving. The wood in the spoon above is basswood. Many other woods will work as well. I will post a knol on spoon carving at a later date.

Also, if you can make a spoon knife, there is no reason you couldn't make a sloyd knife as well. The technology is the same except that traditional sloyd knives like this one from Mora, Sweden are made with many laminations of steel... a technique hard to duplicate outside the blacksmith shop.


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