Carving a wooden spoon from a simple piece of freshly cut tree branch is a deeply satisfying experience. Green wood is very yielding and all of your senses are stimulated, from the smell of fresh wood shavings being carved away to the texture and feel of the bowl and handle as they emerge from the spoon blank.
Using just three tools, an axe, a knife and a hook knife, we will spend the day carving our own spoons. We’ll start by cleaving a length of branch wood in two, deciding which piece would make the best spoon blank and then with axe and chopping block hew the wood to define the bowl, stem and handle. We then move onto the use of the sloyd or craft knife to learn the basic knife holds and whittling cuts to further shape the spoon and use an elegantly curved hook knife to hollow the bowl.
There will also be informal discussion on the use of different wood species, how to sharpen your tools and finishing your spoon. There will be a range of carved spoons, books and tools on hand to inspire.
This course will be based at Hill End Outdoor Education Centre, Eynsham Road, Farmoor, Oxford, OX2 9NJ. Hill End has 67 acres of tranquil and beautiful surroundings next to the world famous Wytham Woods used as an outdoor laboratory by Oxford University. In 2020 Hill End is celebrating 100 years of outdoor education, from when the philanthropic ffennell family purchased the Wytham estate in 1920.
We’ll operate the course in a covid-safe way with appropriate physical distancing, hand sanitisation, your own tools to use for the day etc
Click on the available date in the calendar and then ‘make a booking request’ to book directly with CraftCourses.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
All tools and materials will be provided. The group size is limited to eight to ensure appropriate tuition time per participant. Appropriate physical distancing and cleansing of tools will be observed to create a covid-safe environment.
What to Bring
Please bring your own lunch and drinks and any green woodworking tools you may have. We'll be outside for much of the time so dress appropriately for the weather.
This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 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.
I really enjoyed myself on this course, it was everything I had expected and more. David and Mike were great teachers and demonstrators, always on hand to answer a question or to demonstrate a technique or give advice on the evolving spoon design. The day was informal but well run. Safety was a high priority given the sharp tools being used. There was plenty of opportunity to try out a variety of tools to help with deciding what you will want to buy afterwards when you get hooked in to spoon carving
I have asked Santa for a set of spoon knives for Christmas so hopefully I will be able to pursue my new found interest, I just need to listen out for any chain saws so that I can go and get some freshly cut wood to practice on.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Tom, thanks so much for this positive feedback. It was an absolute pleasure to tutor you and your fellow spoon carvers on Saturday and I’m so pleased we could spend much of the day outdoors. You’ll need a second mortgage for some of Mike’s axe recommendations, but they are beautiful heirloom tools made by very talented makers!
What i can say....really grate course, beautiful location, David it is such a great teacher...highly recommended.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Bogdan, you now hold the record for the furthest anyone has travelled to join one of my classes! I’m so pleased that you felt that the journey was worthwhile and thanks so much for your kind words. Keep those knives sharp and keep making shavings!
Great course. It was a cold day but I barely even noticed! Engaged from start to finish. Experienced and helpful instructors. Would highly recommended.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Helen, high praise that we managed to get you to forget the winter weather, but we were blessed with some sunshine and blue skies! I’m so pleased you had a good day and I hope that we’ve planted a seed of working green wood that will stay with you. A simple set of tools and bountiful raw materials in the natural world around us! Do stay in touch and let us know how your carving journey proceeds.
Really nice day, well worth the trip up from Brighton.
When you've done the course you will want to carve another spoon, which means you will want spend some extra cash on a couple of tools. So be careful!
However, If you can't get your own tools then David and Mike offer a regular membership where they kindly provide quality tools for you to use.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Otto, thanks so much for your review. I really appreciate the effort you took to join us from Brighton in the middle of a pandemic. You are right that carving spoons can become addictive, but it beats alcohol or tobacco, right? I wish you well on your spooncarving and green woodwork journey and please do stay in touch.
I've now been a spoon carver for just over 2 years. It all started when I went on one of David's courses. I had no idea what would be involved. I started with log of field maple and by the end of the day I walked away with a very presentable spoon. David is for starters a really nice, approachable guy. He's a great teacher, makes sure that you know what you're doing, and supports you throughout the day. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed and there is a great sense of achievement in turning a log into a spoon! David runs our local group which meets monthly in a local wood where we all sit around a log fire, carving spoons, chatting, drinking tea and sharing experiences. So in 2 years I've become part of the spoon carving community! I'm sure you'll enjoy the course!
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Andy, I really appreciate this review and your kind words. You remind me that learning to carve a wooden spoon isn’t just about learning a new craft skill but is a route through to a wider green woodworking community which is so friendly, welcoming and happy to share skills, experience and supplies of green wood!
An excellent and very enjoyable introductory day course in green woodworking, from the welcoming wood-fired kettle right through to comprehensive follow-up email and opportunities for further progress. The whole day was very well-structured and equipped, with superbly clear demonstrations and explanations from David and Mike, which enabled us to make spoon design choices, get plenty of practice with axe and knives, and produce an item of use and individual beauty.
The day was one of care and attention, in a very safety-conscious environment and wonderfully peaceful surroundings, with David enabling us all to get properly to grips with the revelation that the axe is our friend! Thoroughly recommended, as well as a spoon I ended the day with a great sense of accomplishment, and a deeper appreciation of the artistry involved in the craft.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Thanks so much for the review, Ruth, it is much appreciated, and thanks to you and your fellow participants for being such an engaged and enthused group. I do hope the day has sparked your interest in spooncarving and green woodworking- it’s a rabbit hole that’s not easy to escape from!
A great Introduction to Spooncarving excellently delivered by David and his lovely assistant 😂. The whole day was relaxed and informative we learned so much and the concentration built as our spoons took shape, I highly recommend it.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Adrian, I really appreciate your comments, as does Mike! If enjoyment is measured by the amount of shaving around your chopping block then you definitely won hands down- congratulations on managing to carve two spoons in the day and being part of such a wonderful group to tutor. I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a Saturday!
Excellent course. I had a really enjoyable day in a superb location.
David is an excellent teacher and clearly is very passionate about his craft.
He explained and demonstrated every step in a very easy to understand way and inspired confidence in using the tools needed to carve a spoon.
He also covered safety issues at the beginning of the day and how to look after and sharpen your tools.
I'd definitely recommend this course.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Linda, thanks so much for your feedback, it is really appreciated. Thank you for being part of a such an engaged and involved group of participants. I look forward to watching your skills in wood carving develop and grow.
David was excellent. I had never done anything like this before and he taught in a very clear manner. Whilst I felt I learnt heaps it was never overwhelming. I loved the vibe of the class, crafting around a fire with a pot of hot water constantly on the go. I would definitely recommend it.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Hannah, I really appreciate your feedback. Hill End did us proud as a venue and I loved the dappled shade from the birch trees at our site. Thank you for being so receptive to new ideas in developing your craft skills and I hope you’ve now caught the spooncarving bug and will be whittling away in future months and years!
Great introduction to spoon carving by David, helped by Mike. Both very knowledgeable and helpful. Ended up with spoon which actually looked like a spoon! Learnt a great deal about cuts needed and orientation of the grain etc. Also safe use of tools and sharpening. An enjoyable day in a fantastic location.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Phil it was great to meet a fellow Eynsham resident! Thank you for throwing yourself into the deep end of working green wood. I do hope I can provide continuing support as you develop your interest in spooncarving and green woodworking
A lovely way to have spend my Saturday, in such a calm, relaxed and naturally beautiful environment. David was very informative and his calm friendly approach gave me to the confidence to use tools and equipment that I'd never used before. I was so absorbed in making my spoon that I lost all sense time! I look forward to making more things out of wood in the future. Thank you David
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Thanks so much Rachel, yes the time did fly didn’t it? Thanks for being such a great group to tutor. I very much hope that you’ll develop your skills further and I’d be honoured to help you make more shavings and spoons!
It was great to learn the whole process from log to spoon. David’s tuition was excellent and I felt safe and confident using the techniques he showed us.
Highly recommend this course.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Thanks so much Angela- you were a great group to teach and as always I learned something new from the day too. Hope you’ve found the follow-up notes useful. All best David
I did one of David's courses last January, and it was absolutely great!
I was an absolute beginner, and I am not even particularly good at crafts, but David explained everything from the very start (a log of green wood) to the end (oiling the spoon, sharpening tools etc).
Each student carved their very own spoon, and there were a number of different tools to try out. David demonstrated many different techniques to use the sharp tools safely (for you and others around), while still leaving you room to figure out things on your own.
David is an excellent teacher, absolutely passionate about wood carving, I had an amazing day! After just this one class I am carving spoons on my own, and this part is particularly important to me as I very much expected that after the class I would never dare to carve anything at all ; the exact opposite happened. David even helped me afterwards with advice on tools to get, sharpening techniques and more.
I absolutely wholeheartedly recommend this class, and I am definitely considering taking another one myself.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:Hi Lucie
Having no experience of working with wood, let alone carving using sharp tools and knives I was rather hesitant about this course; but the thought of creating, through my own efforts, a useful and beautiful wooden object spurred me on to apply for a place on David's spoon-carving course in 2018.
How wrong I was to be so uncertain, from the word GO It was a most enjoyable day. There were about eight in the group and we met outdoors in very pleasant surroundings, we were all new to spoon-carving and very impressed with the examples that David had laid out before us. David himself is an inspirational teacher, it was clear from the start that not only is he a superb craftsman, but that he is also driven to share his knowledge and talents with others.
The first part of the day, much to my pleasure, dealt with safety, then armed with the knowledge of how to keep ourselves and others safe we were taken step by step through the process of carving a spoon.
I tasted an experience that day that has lasted and will last me a lifetime and that experience, quite simply, is the pleasure of working with wood by hand. The feel, the texture, the smell of freshly cut wood and the work involved to produce something so personal and individual and functional as a spoon was and still is quite wonderful.
Since that course I have joined the Oxfordshire Bodgers which is organised by David and continued to develop my skills and interest in green woodworking.
All in all, I can thoroughly recommend this course it is useful, practical and above all creative as well as being me back to nature. David, as I have said, is an inspirational teacher and mentor. Through his passion, knowledge and enthusiasm I have learned new skills and developed a new and enjoyable interest.
Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:I’m blushing! Thanks so much for the review Roger and it is wonderful to see how you’ve developed yourself as a woodcarver, exploring the properties of different wood species and incorporating that into your designs.