I would like to say thanks a lot to my American friend
Wendy Rome for her invaluable assistance in editing this article.
I make spoons from beautiful wood and these spoons help people and make them happy — a lot happier than the meager few BTUs someone might have had from burning that wood. In fact, that’s how I got started in wood carving — I saw all these wonderful pieces of material going to waste. I knew they could be useful and give people pleasure so I began carving. I take unwanted wood that was doomed to burn or rot and I turn it into spoons that are both functional and beautiful.
But every time I clean up my work area where I make blanks for my future spoons, I am amazed at the wood shavings and chips that have piled up. As I split logs and form blocks, my wood chip and shaving pile continues to grow. I plan to write an article on how I split logs into pieces and how I make blanks. But right now, I’m focused on all these shavings!
I would love to use every scrap of wood that I find, but spoon blanks require me to cut out spoon shapes, which leaves behind those chips and shavings. Unless I figure out a use for these small pieces, this part of the wood will go to waste — it will just be kindling for the wood stove.
If you imagine the process of making a blank for a future spoon, you can understand what kind of waste I’m talking about. I don’t have a band saw, so I can’t salvage the discarded areas as intact pieces of wood that might be used for a smaller item like a hair stick. This frustrates me.
In this photo, for example, the red areas usually end up in the trash. I use an axe to remove these sections in layers, leaving the center piece, the spoon blank, which I then carve.
Isn’t that a bit much? It seems like a lot of waste to me.
I’m all about saving as much wood as possible from rotting or being burned. The chips and shavings in the pile are usually too small to be carved into something useful. Discarding even these small pieces bothers me. I believe we need to protect the environment and wasting more than tiny shavings seems counter to my goal of reducing waste. I would love to figure out a way to use these small scraps and I’m open to ideas if you’d like to offer some suggestions.
Here’s an example of some wood I’ve salvaged. This piece of mulberry came from that ‘red’ area of the blank. So, one blank can give me two pieces of wood to make something else. Here is one of those spoons. Mulberry is not only beautiful but highly durable. It’s perfect for such uses.
Although mulberry wood is quite durable, the procedure of baking the finished product in the oven adds additional resistance to external influences such as moisture and bacteria.
When finishing my products, I use only natural food-safe compounds. I mix some of these by hand. This wonderful mulberry scoop is finished with linseed oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax. It can be used for many items: ground coffee, tea, grains, sugar, salt or other bulk products. And it feels wonderful. The finish is so smooth that it’s a joy to use — a delight every time you hold it in your hands.
Wood is a marvelous resource — an important resource — but too many people tend to be rather cavalier about it and relegate it to a lower than optimum use. This is a resource we should consume more carefully. Even the smallest piece of wood can become something beautiful and functional. I won’t get tired of saying this. I might get tired trying to figure out ways to use the tiny pieces. But I’m in no hurry. I’ll figure it out. Be sure to watch for some of my tiny creations!
Yours in carving,