Sunday 17 November 2013

Spoon carving. With a pinch of bushcraft.

  Now we've settled into our new home and filled every nook and cranny with our belongings I thought it was about time I went out for a look round, I was looking for a spot where I can sit quietly and carve in the outdoors, preferably with a view.
Well, I found such a spot last week.
The day started chilly, with a frost, but that didn't last long.
At the moment the temperature here is around the 8 to 10  C mark.
However, we've been promised snow later in the week.

Dartmoor. Devon. Jon Mac.

I climbed up through the woodland that skirts our home and eventually came across a Tor overlooking the valley with a view toward Haytor.
I carried a small Bergen with a bite to eat, a drink, some spoon blanks and tools.

spoon carving

When I first started writing this blog back in 2010, I wanted to share with folk how to make useful and beautiful folk art with only the minimum of tools.
An art that could be carried out at camp or on the trail.
I carry my carving tools in a small bag so they dont rattle around my Bergen.
They are either sheathed or wrapped with material for safeties sake.
I usually carry some sort of first aid kit, to cover any nicks and scratches one may collect on the way.
I also make room for my trusty camera.

Jon mac. Lumix G3

The thing about sitting quietly in the wilds is quite often the animals you disturbed making your way in, will return over time. 
Much like dropping a pebble into a bucket of water, the rings move out then bounce back from the lip of the bucket. 
Everything settles again after a while.
The reason I mentioned this is because a small band of deer visited whilst I was whittling.
Along with a gang of Long tailed tits and birds small various.
I'm pretty sure I saw a Goss hawk as well.
Quartering the woodland, fast, looking for lunch.

The tools I take with me are pretty much the ones I use in the studio.
From left to right.
One of my MiniMac knives. A two sided water stone 1200/6000 grit, cut down for easy packing.
A piece of non slip matting.
A small bundle of silicon carbide paper, grits various. A thin dowel covered in leather along with a piece of polishing compound.
A hook knife. A Leuku knife. Spoon blanks and a leather belt, cut in half with cord loops each end.

spoon carving tools

You'll no doubt recognise these tools from earlier posts here at First Steps.
I've noticed there has been some chat about the efficacy of stropping on forums and the like.
I like a bit of a strop on my knives, nice and light, it works for me just fine.
I don't over do it, and I make sure the bevels are flattened out regularly on a stone.

spoon carving tools

For my camping strop, I loop one end over my boot, or something suitable, pull taught and strop.
You can see where I've rubbed a little compound on the strop.

spoon carving tools

 Replace the Leuku with an axe if you prefer.
I've taken to carrying the Leuku due to it's light weight.


My friend Mark Baigent from Mark Baigent Photography sent a Manfrotto tripod down to me last week.
I'll need to buy a head for it, then I will be spending more time out on the tops, carving and practicing low light photography at sunset.
I may even try it at sun rise.
Those that know me are laughing just now. 

Dartmoor. Jon Mac

By the way.
I'd like to thank all the folk who follow this little enterprise.
I appreciate your support.
The visitor counter is ticking away nicely and I hope a new carver starts his or her journey every turn of the ticker.



  1. Another wonderful share of the moments of your life..we can all learn from you message of quiet minimal effort...allow the creative and inspirational of our center to thrive.

  2. Thank you La G.
    I'll keep you in my pocket on future trips.

  3. I've been dabbling with all sorts of woodcraft for a while, but I alway's go back to spoon's and wooden cups . I like to look in to Spoon Carving First Steps as you always seem to make quite remarkable spoons, and those ale hens I love :)

  4. Hi Brian.
    Thank you for coming by.
    It's funny isn't it ? Perhaps it's the technical challenge of carving a spoon that brings us back to it. So many changes of direction, especially round the bowl. I'm glad to read you are having fun with it... J

  5. Hi Jon, I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing. ATB, Paul

  6. Hi Paul.
    Thanks for stopping by.
    I love what I do, I have to share it with others.
    It's a challenge and good fun rolled into one.

  7. Thanks for the great post Jon, amazing countryside to live. Enjoy the outdoor carving wish I had such a great view.


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