Carving Wooden Spoons

Here are a couple of spoons I carved from a single chunk of white ash (fraxinus americana) I gathered from the park behind where I live in Toronto. The already-dead tree had collapsed in a windstorm last year. To finish them, I soaked them in olive oil for a day.

It wasn't until I had oiled them that I realized the the bowls are translucent. They're not so thin that they are too delicate to use, but the wood just seems to have that certain quality that transmits light so beautifully. I used 120 grit sandpaper, and you can see the abrasive marks on the bowl. Next time I'll go up to 220, and even consider using a curved scraper to remove any of those marks.

The tree was likely the victim of the Emerald Ash Borer. This is the beetle devastating the Ash population across North America, killing tens of millions of trees. A native of Asia, this beetle was first detected in Toronto in 2007. Ash makes up 8 percent of the tree canopy in Toronto. All of them will be attacked by next year, and all untreated trees will die. Toronto's municipal policy is to basically remove the ash trees, using the wood for fuel and lumber, and replanting with different species.

I used my Gransfors-Bruks Small Forest Axe to cut up the log, and my Mora 'Classic Original 1' knife with a wonderful laminated steel blade to shape it. I also used a Mora Erik Frost hook knife to carve out the bowls- not the double-edged knife shown in the picture, but the singled-edged carbon steel blade #164 which I have in my tool kit.

I can't understand why someone would want to use the double-edged one. I don't use mine at all. To use it effectively, I have to choke up on the blade, and that means grasping it to use small cutting motions, and pushing/pulling it with my thumb. If I use the double-edged blade, I'm having to place my thumb against a blade. Which is rather dangerous.

I bought the birch-handled knife from eBay 8 years ago, and it is my second favourite Mora. I got my favourite Mora from Tim Smith at Jack Mountain when I was taking a course down there a few years back. It is a Mora 510. It has a 3 1/2 inch blade, a perfect size, and practically no finger guard which allows me to choke up on the blade as needed. At the time, Tim very gravely reminded me that the 510 had been discontinued by Mora for incomprehensible reasons, and that I should get one from him ASAP. I handed him $10 in the shadows of his barn doors, and the transaction was complete.

Well, I've just discovered that Mora has restarted making and is selling the Mora 510. Instead of the orange-red slightly garish coloured handle which I have, they've replaced it with a black handle. Nice. I wonder if they figured the black handle would be more popular... that folks didn't want something looking so bright and - well - plastic. The benefit of a red handled bushcraft / outdoors knife is that if you drop it in the forest litter or in the snow it will be easier to spot. At the very least, in case you don't want to paint a beautiful knife handle bright red, you can tie a red string or ribbon through the lanyard hole.

Mors Kochanski was the instructor down at Jack Mountain, and here describes what he considers to be the perfect bushcraft knife (like his Skookum design). In the following 45 minute long video, Mors builds a knife from an old saw blade. I thoroughly enjoyed getting training from him.


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