Carving Salad Servers
Thursday 15 December 2011
Peter Benson shows you how to carve a simple spoon and adapt the pattern to make a salad server set
This project can be modified to produce several other similar pieces. We will start with a simple spoon and then look at how this design can be used as a basic shape from which a pair of salad servers or a kitchen spatula can be made. You could also personalise any of these with added carved decoration.
I’ll start by carving a simple spoon shape to get the idea of the process and then will elaborate on it.
The timber must be quite hard and it must be non-toxic. A surprising number of timbers are not recommended for culinary or general kitchen use as they can have unhealthy consequences. Also the dust from many of these is actually
very harmful so should be avoided.
In general you will be alright with lime (Tilia spp), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), beech (Fagus spp) and the fruitwoods - apple (Malus sylvestris), pear (Pyrus communis), cherry (Prunus spp) etc.
The wood doesn’t even need to be dry - it can be cut from green logs if necessary and often it is better to carve it this way.
Sketch out a rough shape, draw a centreline along its full length, then carefully draw half of your design and cut it out from a piece of card. Transfer this pattern onto your block of wood, fold it over - keeping the centreline in the same place - and draw the other side to give the whole symmetrical outline of the spoon
Using your bandsaw or coping saw, cut round the outline, keeping as close to the line as you can to maintain the symmetry
Use the waste material to make a jig in which to hold the spoon while you carve it. There are many other ways that you can stop the spoon from moving but this is probably the easiest
Carve out the bowl hollow first, using a 1/2in gouge with a fairly deep sweep, say a 5, 6 or 7
Making the salad server spoon
Carving the bowl first keeps the block flat on the supporting board. If you carve the back first this is not the case and you could have problems.
Work across the direction of the grain to avoid splitting out and undercutting what you have already carved. With any hollow shapes or difficult grain patterns, it is always better to work across the grain. Don’t try to carve too deeply on this first spoon; it is not really necessary and can only cause problems.
When using a coping saw, the blade needs to be fitted so that the teeth point towards the handle. This means that the cutting stroke is a pull stroke either towards you if the spoon is vertical, or downwards if the spoon is held flat. If the blade is pointing the other way there is a danger of it springing out of the saw because you will be cutting with a push stroke.
Once happy with the bowl shape, start to carve the outside using gouges or knife. I tend to rough-out with a gouge and then do the bulk of the shaping with my knife. Don’t try to make the bowl too thin - it can always be refined later
Next, draw the line of the spoon handle onto the underneath in a flowing shape, then saw off the waste from underneath
Once happy with the line, shape the underside of the handle
Now shape the hook end
When the desired lines are achieved mark in the top profile, shape this with your knife and then sand and refine the surface as necessary
The finished spoon sanded and treated with three coats of olive oil
Making the salad server fork
This time cut out the front and side views from a square-edged piece of wood. Leave a short length of each side uncut so the waste remains attached until all the cutting is complete
Salad server cut out and end marked
Drill the bottom of the prongs
Holes drilled ready for cutting out
Carefully cut out the waste with your bandsaw or coping saw and trim with a knife, finally sanding smooth
Sand and finish the salad server fork to match the spoon
If you wish to carve different patterns to match the original, suitable patterns can be made from the finished spoon. With careful trimming of the inside of the hook, any pieces that you hang on the rack can be made to hang level
(PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PETER BENSON)