Help to make a budget spoon carving kit

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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
Hi all, I was asked by a friend the other day whether I used my spoon carving kit or whether she could borrow it. Rather than lend my knives, I’d prefer to recommend her a couple of cheapish carvers and a crook knife.

My kit consists of a Frost, a Brusletto Balder, a Mora crook knife (the pointy one, not the double edge), and a nice crook knife made by Dunc (FGYT) of this forum. However, she doesn’t want to spend too much on something she may not take up as a hobby so has anyone got any recommendations for simple set up to get her started? Preferably a crook knife that doesn’t need fettling before it’s usable for example?

I have a few Moras, so I can give her a Robust or Triflex to do some of the heavier work. Here’s my lot, in need of some use and a good sharpen.

58CD1706-5958-4492-A70E-45E0074208DE.jpeg
 
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gra_farmer

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Hi all, I was asked by a friend the other day whether I used my spoon carving kit or whether she could borrow it. Rather than lend my knives, I’d prefer to recommend her a couple of cheapish carvers and a crook knife.

My kit consists of a Frost, a Brusletto Balder, a Mora crook knife (the pointy one, not the double edge), and a nice crook knife made by Dunc (FGYT) of this forum. However, she doesn’t want to spend too much on something she may not take up as a hobby so has anyone got any recommendations for simple set up to get her started? Preferably a crook knife that doesn’t need fettling before it’s usable for example?

I have a few Moras, so I can give her a Robust or Triflex to do some of the heavier work. Here’s my lot, in need of some use and a good sharpen.

View attachment 66129
Be prepared to put a true edge on most spoon knives, but what you have is pretty good and does not break the bank.

I need to sort out a few bits, I'll see what I have
 
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crosslandkelly

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Jun 9, 2009
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These certainly won't be the best, but as as a starter kit they get decent reviews.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
These certainly won't be the best, but as as a starter kit they get decent reviews.

Aha, cut resistant gloves too. Nice one, thanks..
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Bedfordshire
I would go with Hultafors for the straight knife. Its a tiny bit longer than the Mora, but it is cheaper and just as good. The guard arangement can be filed off, but I think it can benefit a beginner.
£7.95
I also like their double knife sheath, which has both a Craftsman, which is a good carver, and a Heavy, which one can use for baton splitting.

Mora 164 is probably the cheapest spoon knife, at around £24. For £36 one can get Ashley Isles and some others. I never liked the double edged type and would stick with a single edge.
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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These certainly won't be the best, but as as a starter kit they get decent reviews.
Some time in the late 80s I got a set of little wood carving tools that looked exactly like the chisel/gouge things in that add. Could not get some of them sharp. One day I pushed a little too hard and the skew chisel snapped. The grain in the steel looked like casters sugar! The box looks all Japanese, says they were "quality steel".

Since that whole set sells for what a single Mora hook knife sells for, I cannot but think they have been made in China by the lowest bidder. I have always preferred to get fewer tools of better quality. They take up less space, last longer and I get to gain some experience between purchases.

If anyone here buys them, it would be good to know what the quality is actually like.
 

Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
Some time in the late 80s I got a set of little wood carving tools that looked exactly like the chisel/gouge things in that add. Could not get some of them sharp. One day I pushed a little too hard and the skew chisel snapped. The grain in the steel looked like casters sugar! The box looks all Japanese, says they were "quality steel".

Since that whole set sells for what a single Mora hook knife sells for, I cannot but think they have been made in China by the lowest bidder. I have always preferred to get fewer tools of better quality. They take up less space, last longer and I get to gain some experience between purchases.

If anyone here buys them, it would be good to know what the quality is actually like.
I suspect you’re right, these kits are all over Amazon with different branding. Some of the reviews agree the steel is not up to much, others say the hidden tang blades can fall out.

I’m still tempted to put this forward as a recommendation for her. For one thing she has only seen and used my own tools once, and not very well though it wasn‘t a bad attempt, but secondly because she is fairly gentle on tools and won’t overtax her secateurs if the job requires loppers or a saw.

On the other hand, I started with the Mora hook knife and Frosts carver and was fine to make a spoon with them and some abrasives. I only added the Balder because I fancied a detail blade, and the FGYT because I happened to be in his garage chatting and noticed about 20 of them hanging up with their glue drying. Rude not to nab one really, I think it cost me less than the Mora ;)
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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England has lots of horses, I believe. That means lots of farriers. Worn down farrier's hoof trimming knives are single-edged and still have a lifetime of wood carving steel in them. Mora #171 would be an example.

Probably better steel than most of the so-called spoon knives. Mostly, you will find the RH models, very useful to have the LH model. That's the advantage of the double-edged blades. It's all in what you get used to. If you don't like the double-edged blades, that's because you are holding it and using it incorrectly.
Mora makes a double edged blade, I build planer knives from them (#188?).

When you develop some dedication to carving spoons and dishes of many sizes, I suggest that you look for the traditional crooked knife blades from the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada.
From these blade smiths, what you need is a classic 'J'-shaped blade.
Look at the Kestrel 'C' blade. You really need a big one and a little one.

Lee Valley markets a very useful selection of blades. I use all of them.

Jamie makes very good small blades.

I know there's all sorts of "brand loyalty" out there.
I suggest the options above just to let you know that they exist. Don't ever buy a tool so dedicated to spoon carving that it has no versatility to do any other sorts of carving.
 
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Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
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W.Sussex
England has lots of horses, I believe. That means lots of farriers. Worn down farrier's hoof trimming knives are single-edged and still have a lifetime of wood carving steel in them. Mora #171 would be an example.

Probably better steel than most of the so-called spoon knives. Mostly, you will find the RH models, very useful to have the LH model. That's the advantage of the double-edged blades. It's all in what you get used to. If you don't like the double-edged blades, that's because you are holding it and using it incorrectly.

When you develop some dedication to carving spoons and dishes of many sizes, I suggest that you look for the traditional crooked knife blades from the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada.
From these blade smiths, what you need is a classic 'J'-shaped blade.
Look at the Kestrel 'C' blade. You really need a big one and a little one.

Lee Valley markets a very useful selection of blades. I use all of them.

Jamie makes very good small blades.

I know there's all sorts of "brand loyalty" out there.
I suggest the options above just to let you know that they exist. Don't ever buy a tool so dedicated to spoon carving that it has no versatility to do any other sorts of carving.
Cheers Bri, knew you’d be in. To be honest I’d thought of getting mine all sharp and shiny again and lending her those, but the habit of lending tools, especially sharp ones is something many of us have become frustrated about upon their return. If they return.

Certainly her interest at the moment is to whittle a spoon or two, then see where it goes. If she wants to get into carving, then she can do her own research as to what she needs. The more I think about it I realise I was perfectly happy with an Opinel 8 and the Mora hook knife and got some decent spoons from them. I’m gonna keep it simple I think.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Keep it simple. Can't be said any better. Surface-hafting a blade, building a knife, is sort of a traditional approach here. I agree = don't lend tools as fine as those for wood carving.

Better to do a little carving first then the questions pop up.

I talked to a First Nations carver who was using farrier's hoof trimming knives. Bit of a revelation there. I'm using 4 different brands. That is such a commonly overlooked ( and cheap) resource.

Over the past 2 years, I have been able to add a dozen crooked knives to my tool box. Proved the point to myself that having a variety of shapes and sizes is an advantage.
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Another idea. Ebay, used wood carving gouges. If she can clamp her blank down, she can use a wood working gouge to make the bowl, then use the knife to carve the spoon shape around it. I suggest this because wood working gouges can be had cheaper than spoon knives, which don't seem to come up second hand all that much. Not much good for wandering and whittling, but can work.

 
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Robson Valley

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Funny that you should mention that. There's an entire category of wood carving gouges listed in the London Pattern Book, the shape of which is called "spoon-bent". I wonder how they got that name.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Yes. Terrible picture. The bevel goes right up into and around the little hook at the end. What you can't see is that the entire blade has a sweep, a curve to it.

Here are some examples of my knives. I think the sweeps are easier to see.
I cut the tips off some with a Dremel to get a blade shape that I needed.
The factory handles have no whipping.
 

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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Bear this in mind: You need to revise the entire bevel from 25 degrees down to a useful carving knife bevel of 12 degrees. I always begin with a 7/16" Oregon chainsaw file to open the hooked tip (usually too tight) and to rough the entire bevel to 12 degrees. I'm very good at freehand sharpening. I'm confident so it doesn't take me long. Then to work up through the abrasive grits 600, 800, 1,000, 1,200, and 1,500 then hone on a strop stick.

This is not the beginner's path. With a used knife, a farrier could help you through the worst of it.
 

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