When I started spoon carving in 2012, you were basically on your own. There were a few people blogging about carving spoons, but good books were not available. The only book I could find was by the Swedish Wille Sundqvist, Tälja med kniv och yxa / Swedish Carving Techniques. It was released in 1990 and was only for sale second-hand. At extortionate prices, because those books were for sale for hundreds of dollars. I considered myself lucky when I was able to get the book for a reasonable price.
This standard work was reprinted about six years ago. As a result, good information about this age-old craft became available to a wide audience again. There are now many good English books on the available about carving spoons such as E.J. Osborne’s The Book of Spoon Carving and Wooden Spoon Carving by Niklas Karlsson. But a Dutch how-to book about spoon carving was not yet available. Sjors van der Meer and Job Suijker have remedied this with Lepelhout.
A Dutch how-to book about spoon carving was not yet available
Your feet in wood shavings
Sjors and Job, the guys of Vershout, have provided a real addition to the Dutch-language library with their beautiful book Lepelhout. With a lot of passion and enthousiasm they take you along into the world of trees, wood and craft. I met Job and Sjors when they just started their current company Vershout. I went to them to craft myself a shavehorse for making canoe paddles.
Later I saw them again during a wood working weekend at Midgaard and later of course also at the Dutch Spoon Festival called Lepelfeest. They organize this festival together with other spoon carvers. It is a source of inspiration for and by spoon carvers. With your feet in wood shavings, a sharp knife in hand and a good conversation around the campfire in the evening. And now there is a book called Lepelhout (translates into Spoon Wood).
What to expect from Lepelhout
After their first captivating and practical book Vershout (translated into English under the title The Forest Woodworker -soon also to German), I had high expectations. Just as we may expect from Sjors and Job, they start off by placing the spoon in a broader context: the wood, the tree and the forest. Then they zoom in on types of wood and wood properties. Extensive attention is paid to the tools and also safety through the use of axe and knife techniques.
From there on, it’s about spoons. Aspects such as the anatomy of the spoon, chopping your blank and determining the shape. Are you going to free-carve, draw auxiliary lines, draw the whole spoon or use a template?
Then the book discusses a number of spoons. The spoon with knife only, the straight eatingspoon, the cooking spoon, the spatula, the eating spoon and finally the spoon made out of a forked branch. These spoons are explained step by step, with a clear photo with each step.
Just like their first book, Lepelhout is also packed with good photos to help you through the process. What makes this book unique is the numbering of the steps, along with numbered photos. Instructions for making a chopping block is marks the end of the section about spoon carving. Then Job and Sjors help you with the oh so important sharpening and stropping of your knives. As an encore, there are a number of spoon templates at the back of the book to help you on your way.
Spoon carvers have their say
It is great that Sjors and Job also let a number of other spoon carvers have their say. In that select group of 8 you will find, among others, the Dutch godfather of spoon carving Jan Harm ter Brugge from Hout van Bomen. Maurits Senger from Eemlepel and Martijn van Gerwen from Het Noeste Leven, for example, also receive a few pages.
The book Lepelhout offers an excellent overview of everything you want to know as a starting spoon carver. Besides the explanations you will find so many beautiful pictures that you can almost smell the forest. My conclusion? Lepelhout is an absolute must for the novice spoon carver and a wonderful reference book for advanced carvers at a very reasonable price. Let’s hope there will be an English translation…
Want to know more? Take a look at the site www.vers-hout.nl. You will also find a look-inside copy there. The book can be ordered from Vershout, but also from the www.baptist.nl tool shop for woodworkers and the (Dutch) well-known booksellers.