Alien spoon carving



My workshops are usually small groups of up to five, but often fewer so that you get the best training from a full days spoon carving and I can give everyone my attention and tips to improve techniques throughout the day. I have been training people to carve spoons for over six years and teach the safest and most efficient ways of using the tools.

Alien spoons? Well, it is a memorable name and some of the knife grasps may feel a bit alien to start with. You will soon get to grips with them and the focus of this workshop is learning to use safe and efficient carving techniques with hand tools - the axe, straight knives and hook knives... maybe also a drawknife on a shave horse.

By following good technique you will avoid injuries and with regular stretching this will help you to look after your body as well as the tools. You should leave with the knowledge and confidence to carve safely at home. The tools are relatively cheap and easy to use in a small space.

You will have access to a range of good quality tools, but primarily use the Mora wood carving knives (106/120/164s) and be shown traditional designs for optimising strength and utility. You will make a spoon from local and sustainable fresh cut green wood - starting with a log and leaving with a spoon. From the initial splitting of the log with an axe, trimming this down and on to carving finer details with the knives. Additional skills in chip carving and other green wood working can also be taught. This course is run from close to central Edinburgh and is accessible by public transport.

Depending on the weather it can be inside or outdoors in the wildlife garden. Courses can also be arranged to suit your availability! Please get in touch to discuss your requirements, discounts are available for small groups or multiple days. Course numbers are usually limited to five or less; individual training courses can also be arranged.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

Tea, coffee, light lunch of bread and soup and snacks - All vegan
Professional training in the use of a range of traditional tools.
Advice on tool care and sharpening.
Fresh cut (green) wood for carving.
Some tools available for sale at competitive rates.
Summary of course information emailed to you after the workshop.


Alan at Alien Spoons

Message the tutor More from this maker All reviews


22 Priestfield Crescent
EH16 5JQ

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Advanced/pro level
  • Children
  • Corporate days out & team building
  • Engagement, birthdays & anniversaries
  • Hearing impaired
  • Hen dos
  • Intermediate level
  • Parking provided
  • Public transport
  • Seniors
  • Stag dos
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • Tutor can travel


1 day (9:30am to 5:00pm)

Platinum Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.


Ross - - #38512

My brother and I attended Alan's spoon carving course this weekend. We both found it an awesome day. Alan was very knowledgeable and re-enforced safe carving techniques. We had both dabbled in carving but very sporadically and were both very rusty. Alan provided all the equipment which included a variety of different knives/axes.

As soon as we arrived, Alan and Sim made us very welcome with a nice pot of coffee and good chat. Sim prepared some amazing home baked goods for snacks and lunch.

All in all a very enjoyable day which seemed to finish in a flash (which shows how much fun we were having).

If you are interested in giving carving a go, I would not hesitate to recommended this day course as an introduction!

Michael - - #38346

This was a fantastic course to learn woodcarving skills. Alan is incredibly knowledgeable of safe carving techniques and great at teaching them. Sim was also very welcoming and made sure we were well fed and caffeinated. I highly recommend this course and the spoon carving addiction that brews from it.

Viviana - - #38315

Alan was a great teacher that adapts to the needs of his students. I am a complete beginner and Alan was really great at giving me confidence to try the techniques in a safe way. I Highly reccomend this day course.

Nicky - - #37092

My brother and I had a really fun and educational day with Alan. We both managed to turn a block of wood into a serviceable spoon in just 7 hours! 😂
Alan is a good teacher with lots of enthusiasm, knowledge, and patience, with a vigilant eye for safety and unceasing encouragement. Additionally his partner provided delicious food which was a much appreciated bonus!
Would definitely recommend this course to others, thank you Alan and Sim!

Sue and Edmund - - #36612

Honestly couldn’t fault Alan and his partner in either hospitality or the delivery of the course itself. Booked for my 11 year old son who Loves whittling, and went along myself. Alan was both knowledgeable and patient. We both left with serviceable spoons (albeit not to the level of Alans!), but more importantly an addiction to do more! Totally inspired - thank you so much!

Heather - - #35433

Fantastic spoon carving day! This was my first go at spoon carving so was unsure what to expect and a little apprehensive at the thought of wielding an axe, but it really couldn't have been better. Alan is a brilliant teacher, so knowledgable, patient and welcoming. The whole day flew by, with the help of wonderful food and company. Thanks, Alan!

Catherine - - #35013

My second spoon carving day with Alan. Thoroughly enjoyed it and a smaller group meant more time to focus on technique.
It was great to go over things like using the axe and amazing to start the day with a piece of tree branch and end it with a spoon even if not quite perfect. Spoon carving is quite addictive and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a day than working with the wood in the garden being fed delicious food by Alan’s lovely partner.
Totally recommend this.

Alan - - #33897

I spent a very pleasant day recently on a 1-2-1 spoon carving course. In addition to the carving itself we covered related topics such as selecting and sourcing wood, design, tool maintenance and safety (no blood was spilled). The course format importantly allows the student to follow Alan's steps closely and get instant feedback. At the end of the course, by way of inspiration and the benefits of continued practice, he produced a beautiful spoon he'd carved discretely while I was focused on my own whittling.

Steve Harvey - - #33824

This was exactly what I hoped for. Alan is a really laid back teacher who knows his stuff, explained things really clearly and worked at my pace. The time flew as I got increasingly absorbed in carving my spoon in the peaceful surroundings of the back garden. Lovely homemade soup and cake helped make for a very enjoyable day. Highly recommend.

Shirley - - #32914

We had a really interesting day learning techniques to use different types of axes and knives - it was a little intimidating at first, but we went over the safety aspects and got lots of tips. Ended up with items which actually resembled spoons, which was very satisfying. We also got information sent after the workshop going over some of the things we'd learned, which was useful. Excellent scones and banana cake! Good day and Alan was very helpful and patient.

Adriana Main - - #32548

I had a great time learning about spoon carving. Alan was a great teacher and very patient, explaining about some of the carving techniques and safety in using the tools, including an axe! Also the importance of stretching frequently to avoid painful joints. By the end of the day I had managed to create a wooden spoon, albeit a bit on the chunky side but I was very happy with what I managed to produce. In addition, the hospitality provided was excellent, I felt really well looked after by Sim, providing home made delights. Since the course Alan has provided a post workshop information sheet about tools, etc. I would recommend to give this a try!

Julie Thouy - - #31295

Amazing course, it was great to have explanations about the differents carving techniques, but also about the tools, suppliers and so on...
Thanks Allan for a great day !

Oriane - - #31000

Fantastic workshop with Alan who is an attentive teacher, giving clear and precise explanations for every step and a lot of helpful tips to sustain a good wood carving technique. In the friendly and focused atmosphere, the day pass by too quickly. Warning: very high risk of catching the spoon carving bug!

Colette Peacock - - #30772

My daughter and I joined Alan for a day of spoon carving yesterday. We spent a full day that went by in a flash, both our first experiences with wood carving. From splitting the log to our finished spoon, Alan was the perfect teacher for taking us through the whole process. Alan is very knowledgeable and attentive and provided a relaxed environment for learning. Alan and Sim were so welcoming, Sim making sure we didn't go home with an empty stomach with her gorgeous and plentiful cooking and baking! I would highly recommend for everyone to spend a day here. Thanks again, we have learned so much!

Tom Hunter - - #30055

I spent a lovely day with Alan and a couple of friends learning to spoon carve. The day had a great flow to it with lots of hands on learning and regular breaks where freshly made scones, soup and cake were served up :-)
I came away with much more than I had anticipated, having learned about wood, tools, tool care & sharpening, safety, different cuts, finishing and after care.
I'd thoroughly recommend!

Gary Reid - - #30052

My first spoon carving experience! Lots of fun and no injuries :) Allan is a great teacher and I learned a lot in one day, will be back to do more. The home baked food and coffee was amazing too.

Thanks again

Rick - - #30026

It was my first Spoon Carving Workshop and it was perfect for me as a beginner!
I could fix a lot of doubts and questions, Alan is a very nice, patient and passionate teacher!

We went through all the different steps and details about wood splitting, types of wood, setting the billett and also knife grips, axe grips, different kind of axes and knives, how to make your own handmade knife sheath, an overview on the many different spoon styles, shapes and sizes and much more!
On top of that, I could enjoy a few breaks with the delicious food and hot drinks provided by Alan's partner during the day!
I totally recommend spending a nice day with Alan, especially if you're a beginner! It's worth every penny!

Margaret Forrest - - #29709

I was delighted to attend this course with my daughter, Linda. Alan is an excellent teacher: patient, clear and encouraging. He took great care to show us how to work safely with the tools, avoiding cuts, jabs and RSI. A big thank you also to Alan's partner who provided us with delicious food throughout the day. I would highly recommend Alan's wooden spoon carving course!

Linda - - #29595

I gave this course to my Mum for her birthday this year (and then came along with her!). We had a great day and came away with a spoon each. Alan is a patient and engaging teacher, the class size was nice and small, the atmosphere relaxed and we enjoyed the tasty snacks made by Alan's partner.

Thank you Alan!

Stewart - - #29580

An excellent, enjoyable and satisfying day! As a complete novice, Alan's calm and expert tuition enabled me to turn a lump of wood into a spoon. Amazing! The pace of the day, with lovely food and drinks provided during breaks by Alan's partner, was perfect. Thank you.

Karen Bouissou - - #29577

I had never attempted any knife work before and found this one day course to be very inspiring! Alan is very knowledgeable, and very patient with novices which I appreciated. Great fun!

lis collyer - - #29573

Fantastic day ! We all produced spoons to be proud of and there were plenty of breaks with drinks and delicious food made by Alan's partner. It was a fun day for us all and Alan is a very patient teacher.

Craig - - #28713

Good paced and informative course. Fun day out. Lots of hands on carving time and advice from Alan. Good taster experience. Great food and snacks from Alan's wife during the day too. Would recommend .

Alan - - #28138

Warm welcome, and the class was informative and fun!

Niall - - #27990

A great day working from log to spoon in a relaxed environment with fantastic food. Alan takes you through axe and knife work alongside safety advice and even stretches to keep your body working, and all the while giving glimpses of what more is possible with practice and exploration. All the way through he very patiently explains and encourages and I left satisfied with a productive day, and keen to continue.

Iain Moffat - - #27658

Had a really fun and informative day with Alan.
His tutoring is patient, knowledgeable and articulate. The small group of four is an ideal size with plenty of time for personal tuition as well as group instruction.
The other three on the course added to the enjoyment and the day, unfortunately, seemed to fly by!
We all left with a spoon of some sort and an enthusiasm to have another go on our own.
The day was punctuated by tea, coffee, fabulous home baking and a cooked lunch.
To be recommended.

Denis Monks - - #27609

Had a really great time on this course today.
Alan is very knowledgeable about his craft and is clear and precise when giving out instructions on how to handle the tools in a safe manner, and, how to make the type of cuts required to carve a spoon.
We were also treated to some really tasty home cooked refreshments from Sim.
The day was made even better by the other people who attended the session.
Would highly recommend Alan’s course to anyone interested.

Colin Feesey - - #27581

This was a fantastic day, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Alan has a personable approach, and takes care to teach you skills and safety in the use of axes and knives for wood carving. We were then supported as a small group to carve our own spoons starting with a log. He really knows what he is doing and offers encouragement and guidance every step of the way. The lunch provided was delicious, and we had scones in the morning and cake in the afternoon, all homemade.

renaud barbier - - #27194

A day I really enjoyed. Small group of four that left plenty of time for Alan to answer our questions and assist us.
We learned about the tools and their maintenance, safety and technique to carve a spoon.

Looking forward to buy a few tools and improve this skill.

Thanks Alan.

Craig - - #26939

Alan provided an excellent introduction to spoon carving. He led a thoroughly enjoyable day, explaining the different tools we'd be using, and the techniques that we'd be learning to help carve efficiently, and most importantly to keep ourselves safe.

The course was a great mix of demonstrations from Alan, with loads of time to get stuck into carving our spoons. Alan was also happy to answer questions and provide more specific advice as we progressed with our carving.

We were all kept extremely well fed and watered throughout the day, with regular breaks to recharge, and a fantastic lunch provided by Alan's partner.

I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone looking to try their hand at spoon carving!

Fraser - - #26873

Really great day. Was taught about all the techniques and tools needed to carve a spoon, and by the end of day had great wee spoon. There was lots of inspiration form books and spoons Allan had made. Plenty of breaks to keep you focused and the cake and soup were excellent. Most enjoyable.

John K McGregor - - #26615

What a wonderful day that was. Working away in the conservatory with the rain battering off of the roof, the smell of the wood shavings, everyone concentrating on their own creations, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a wet Saturday. Alan’s teaching was very relaxed and informative and we were all carving away after no time at all. All the safety techniques and easy ways to carve were taught as well as looking after our bodies with rest and exercising those unused muscles. We were looked after royally by Alan’s wife who made delicious scones soup and cakes washed down with lashings of coffee, excellent. I would highly recommend this course, even for existing spoon makers there is something new to learn. I will be very interested in any other courses he teaches.

Heidi Armbrecht - - #26543

This is an excellent course. Allan is a very good teacher very experienced and patient and with a passion for his craft. I learned a lot, and at the end of the day had a beautiful cherry wood spoon. The food was excellent. Thank you

Tiago - - #25601

The day goes by fast and by the end of it I was holding in my hand something that resembled a soup spoon. I went from looking dumbfounded by the log of green wood and axe in front of me to confidently (maybe a bit too confidently) slicing the back of the spoon bowl with the guided-pull knife grasp.

Alan teaches by providing the learner with the essential types of knife cut one can do with a straight knife and a hook knife in order to get nice spoons. Towards the end he also showed us a bit of chip carving. Food is provided along the day. Alan also follows up the course by sending you some PDF files with how to finish your spoons and where to take your newly learnt craft to higher places.
I was impressed by the course. Highly recommended!

Lawrie - - #25178

Alan is a great teacher - showing us all the tools and techniques to safely start spoon carving.
He made sure everyone was getting on well, understood everything and left with a spoon and the knowledge and confidence to carry on carving. Add to that the fantastic lunch and homemade cakes, and it was a brilliant day.

Ryan - - #25167

Such a fantastic course and you'll certainly come away with the knowledge to keep crafting other things (starting by adding the finishing touches to your spoon at home like me!) using the fundamentals you learn here. It's an intensive day but there's a lot to cover, and Alan does a good job of running through it in stages whilst keeping us fed and watered with coffee and homemade treats: his wife should be doing a craft course on baking! It is tricky at first, but listen to his advice and tips and you'll be carving easily in no time. He even offered a second piece of wood for us to start something new at home ourselves, which I've put the in the freezer to keep fresh (great advice!) whilst I finish my first spoon.

So for anyone who wants to pick up a but of whittling but needs some guided lessons to build confidence, and who enjoys vegan bakes and soups, this course is certainly up your street. I hope I keep it up!

Damien - - #25128

Just finished the workshop with Alan.
Great day, intensive, insightful and delightful. Alan is a well of knowledge (we got demonstrated a lot of carving and cutting techniques in particular), time flew during those 8 hours!!! We all ended up with a nice spoon carved by our non-expert hands. Alan was always there to give the right tip at the right time.

Icing on the cake (no joke), we got amazingly fed with vegan food (great soup) and lots of homemade cakes and breads. Tea, coffee on the plenty.

Can only recommend!!!

Mags Donaldson - - #22475

I really enjoyed this course.

Alan is a great teacher - lots of information, good techniques given, but in a lovely informal way. He even provides lunch and cake!

While I am a spoon newbie and have never done knifework before, I did end up with something that actually is useable as a spoon! Really pleased with the course and great value for money.

Thanks, Alan! I look forward to a future in carving slightly better spoons.

Hannah Phelan - - #20433

I recently booked my partner on an Alien Spoons course for his birthday. I was really reassured by Alan's speedy and friendly reply to emails and all the information that he provided. I wish I could have joined!

The course was enjoyed immensely and has provided a new enthusiasm and direction for future spoon making projects.

Many thanks to Alan and I would really recommend this to anyone.

Annie Hay - - #19873

An excellent day, informative and thoroughly relaxing in Alan's lovely conservatory, looking out over the garden, alive with birds and even a fox basking on a shed roof. We all enjoyed the day and in addition to the good company, much appreciated the wonderful food and calm ambience. Great to learn a new and useful craft. Having been taught how to use the equipment safely, I can now get on and practice at home.

Wai-Lian Scannell - - #19321

For a novice spoon whittler like myself I loved this course and highly recommend it! It was thoroughly enjoyable and informative, set in a welcoming atmosphere at Alan’s home.

My greatest fear was to start with a log and return home with a twig or only one chopstick but under Alan's skilful tuition I left with something that resembled a spoon but more importantly the ‘confidence’, knowledge and tools to finish whittling at home.

To sum up this course…

Spoon whittling, scrumptious soup and scones makes for a super Saturday day out.

Thank You!

Graham Pears - - #17161

I had a really good day. Great value for money. I have no hesitation in recommending the course to anyone with even just the slightest interest in woodwork. All the tools and materials were provided and the right balance of tutoring. Nice and relaxed and most importantly great fun.

Alan and his good lady were perfect hosts and everyone on the course were well catered for.

Maggy Flynn - - #17118

This was my first experience of spoon carving, and I really enjoyed the whole experience. As a complete beginner, I found the teaching was the right pace for me, with good demonstrations followed by hands-on practice.
Alan's teaching style is excellent - he taught us how to use the different tools and demonstrated different techniques clearly. He also explained all the safety procedures.
Above all the day was fun, and has given me the confidence to continue to practice on my own. It was great to start with a piece of wood, and go home with a spoon!
Also, it was great that we were so well provided with lovely nourishing food and drinks throughout the day. Thank you.

Gianna I. - - #16697

We had such a good time! It was a present for my boyfriend and we did the course together. Alan was very patient, showed us all the techniques, we also had regular breaks with coffee - and an outstanding lunch cooked by his partner. And we did indeed create something that resembles a spoon! Such lovely people and a fantastic course we would recommend to anyone.

Greg - - #16413

Having very little experience or indeed skill in any kind of crafting, I was delighted to find Alan's teaching style provided an easy route into the spoon carving art. Under his clearly experienced tuition, I felt that the craft really came alive across a fun and productive day. It's a great feeling to take a piece of wood and see the spoon emerge, and a genuinely fascinating experience discovering an art form from such a passionate and engaging instructor. A thoroughly enjoyable day and one I would highly recommend experiencing! Thanks Alan!

Ute - - #16391

After having done a full day of carving knives before, I thought I had a good idea of what to expect and that I knew quite a few cuts already. But I learnt so much more from Alan - he's clearly extremely skilful and experienced both in carving and teaching! I had a great time learning from him and do not mind my aching fingers today (it's such a physical craft!) for I have a beautiful spoon to show for it, which Alan even finished for me since I unfortunately had to cut my day short. Five stars for skill, teaching and forthcomingness!

Adam Brewster - - #16378

Just back from spending the day carving my first spoon with Alan at Alien Spoons and wow did I enjoy myself?! I have to admit to not giving much thought to what the day would be like, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a relaxing and very satisfying, if slightly challenging pastime that's engaging and somewhat addictive. Alan is a wonderful teacher. His easy-going manner belies his obviously extensive knowledge and skilful ability to guide complete novices to a successful outcome. By the end of the day - which included a very warm welcome and great hospitality - I'm seriously considering continuing to carve spoons by myself. Thanks Alan!

Craig - - #16292

Really enjoyed the one-day spoon carving course and would highly recommend to anyone who's interested.

Alan's very knowledgeable and his passion for both the craft and the coaching is infectious.

As others have said, they're great hosts, providing good food in a relaxing atmosphere and the time flew in.

Good chance you'll have a new hobby for life after this as well.

Karen Prentice - - #14414

My husband and I both attended Alan’s spoon carving course this weekend and had a really great day. We both found Alan to be extremely enthusiastic and knowledgable about the whole process. He had a wide variety of tools for us to try and we have managed to source some on Allan’s recommendations. The course took place in Alan’s home and was a lovely welcoming environment. We were treated to a lovely lunch and tea and coffee during the breaks. I had bought my husband the course as a birthday gift and decided to go along too. Would thoroughly recommend this course and thank you Alan for being so inspirational.

Karen Prentice - - #14412

My husband and I both attended Alan’s spoon carving course this weekend and had a really great day. We both found Alan to be extremely enthusiastic and knowledgable about the whole process. He had a wide variety of tools for us to try and we have managed to source some on Allan’s recommendations. The course took place in Alan’s home and was a lovely welcoming environment. We were treated to a lovely lunch and tea and coffee during the breaks. I had bought my husband the course as a birthday gift and decided to go along too. Would thoroughly recommend this course and thank you Alan for being so inspirational.

Robert Swan - - #14397

A great course and tutor! I felt welcome straight away, at ease and relaxed with the tranquil surroundings of Alan's home, we started of with a quick talk about spoon carving and a cuppa, then into the beginnings of carving from the types of wood used through axe use then into carving, with plenty coffee breaks and a lovely dinner provided by Alan's partner, all round a really lovely way to spend a day. I now look forward to receiving my own carving equipment and continuing what I have learnt

Kate Allan - - #12987

I really enjoyed this one day course as my first experience of spoon carving.

Alan provided all materials and tools (and a nice lunch) and guided us through the process of getting started safely. His enthusiasm, knowledge, expertise and skill in demonstrating and supporting enabled me not only to start with a log and go home with a spoon, but also with the confidence to continue by myself.

Overall a very good experience - fun, challenging, informative and a great introduction to the fascinating world of spoon carving. Thanks, Alan!

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