making spoon knives

For carving spoons you need a bent knife to hollow the bowl. Over the years I have been carving and teaching I have struggled to get good knives. For a while I was buying them from Bo Helgesson in Sweden and they were excellent but he does not seem to be making them now. There are various folk making them but none that I liked as much as Bo’s. I have forged all my own bowl turning hooks for 20 years so it seemed I would have to bring that knowledge to making my own spoon knives. I have also been able to draw on the considerable accumulated expertise of the Sheffield knife industry.

Yesterday and this morning were spent in Sheffield putting the bend into my current batch of knives, there is a lot going on with a spoon knife, many different variables that can be tweaked and if you get them all spot on a knife is sublime to use. It has taken a while to get to this stage but I am confident these are going to be great knives.

IMG_8428 IMG_8433 IMG_8434

I love Sheffield workshops, the smell, the history, the hard grimy work, the efficiency.


I just wish I had some of these great machines in my workshop. This buffer makes short work of gently rounding the back of the knife.IMG_8437

This is Peter who has been helping me with the project, he has vast experience of the cutlery industry and an eye for precision and quality.IMG_8440 IMG_8447

So the knives are now off to another Sheffield specialist for heat treatment. With simple steels you can achieve good results and reasonable consistency heat treating in a home furnace but I am using a complex alloy steel and want to get the very best out of it, Sheffield can do that. Then it’s back home for final sharpening.

12 Responses to making spoon knives

  1. David Fisher December 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    The curve looks very good, indeed, Robin. I wish you well on this project. Many will benefit from it.

  2. Baz December 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Will these be on sale via your shop?

    • Robin Wood December 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      yes they will late next week I expect

  3. Darren December 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    That’s exciting!!! Just in time for Solstice/Christmas.

  4. Bill December 7, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Are bowl turning hooks next on the list for production I hope?

    • Robin Wood December 7, 2013 at 12:31 am #

      not imminent but maybe eventually

      • Jason December 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

        Perhaps you could put a few close-ups of your hooks and a description of how you forge them. I’ve been making curved knives for a while. I have a lot more to learn, but get better and better results. Would like to try turning hooks, both in the forge and on the lathe.

  5. Joe Jerrard-Adams December 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Any idea on the price ??? looking forward to getting one for Christmas

    thanks Joe

  6. Bear A Limvere December 9, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Hi Robin!

    I’m interested in getting one, blade-only. How much with postage to the USA?

    Bear ;-D

    • Robin Wood December 9, 2013 at 12:23 am #

      Price not confirmed until I have all the costs in but hopefully will be on website next week.

  7. Mike December 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Can you give more detail on how to fit a handle? Got one on its way and I’m keen to use it but never fitted handles to anything other than an axe and some turning tools.

    • Robin Wood December 20, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      Hi Mike did you read this bit? “I carve a handle out of any dry hardwood scrap I have to hand, drill an 8mm hole then hold the blade in a pair of mole grips tap it gently into the hole. The corners of the tang with bite into the wood and hold it firm but you can add glue for extra security if you like.”

      It really is very simple. I guess the only detail I could add is when I tap the tang into the hole I do it by poking the end 1mm in then tapping the end of the handle down on a table top whilst holding the blade lightly with Mole grips, the tang will go down several mm with each tap. It’s probably a good idea to wrap the edge of the blade with insulation tape before you start this partly yo protect the fragile blade edge and partly to protect you if anything slips, they are very sharp.