Introduction to spooncarving at Hill End

Spoons on a reindeer skin
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Description

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.

What's included in the price?

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.

Maker

David Knight at David Knight Woodland Crafts

Venue

Hill End Centre
Eynsham Road, Farmoor
Oxford
Oxfordshire
OX2 9NJ

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Parking provided
  • Suitable for beginners

Duration

1 day (10:00am to 5:00pm)

Gold Badge
What does this mean?

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.


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Reviews

In-person course
Adele - - #35332

I had a lovely day carving my wooden spoon at Hill End. The venue is wonderful and David is an excellent and knowledgeable teacher. He showed us lots of different techniques and tools, and was extremely patient and helpful in guiding us with our creations. The day flew by! I highly recommend this course. Thank you, David!

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Adele, thanks so much for the positive review. Your group was a pleasure to teach and it also helped that the sun came out! I do hope you'll continue to wield a sharp knife and axe in the cause of green woodworking and shape more wood into beautiful and functional objects. All best David

In-person course
Sarah - - #35314

Loved this course - green wood carving is my new favourite thing. David was really helpful and knowledgeable. I came away having learnt loads about wood, tools and techniques. And with my own carved spoon. I would definitely recommend this course. The site at Hill End is lovely, and all covid safe. A fab day!

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your review. It was a pleasure to teach you and your fellow participants and the sun shone on us as well, which was an added bonus. I hope you’ve found the follow-up notes useful and happy to provide any further guidance on tools or techniques. If you are able to join a green woodworking group via the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers I’m sure that will enhance your enjoyment of working green wood. All best David

In-person course
Rachel - - #35277

An excellent day of learning all about spoon making. Lovely venue and really well presented with distancing measures. Lots of hands on help and guidance and amazing how we turned a log into a spoon. Used a saw horse, variety of hand tools, teaching on tools sharpening, style, uses and what to look for if purchasing tools. Nothing was too much trouble.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Rachel, thanks so much for the positive review. You were an excellent group of students too, attentive and keen to learn- it was a pleasure to spend a day in your company. The sunshine helped also! I do hope you’ll continue to invest in your skills and enjoy the calm, mindfulness and satisfaction that comes from working green wood. Regards, David

In-person course
Neil - - #34563

An excellent course which more than met my expectations. David has extensive knowledge and his enthusiasm is infectious. Highly recommended.

In-person course
Peter Wood - - #34249

Excellent course: the tutor, David, is very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and helpful. The course was held in beautiful surroundings, in woodland, which made for a wonderful day. As a beginner in wood carving I did not know how I would get on, but David's help and encouragement enabled me to turn a log into a spoon by the end of the day.

His enthusiasm for green wood carving was not only motivating, it also meant that we learned about the history of the craft and the wider possibilities that the course can lead to.

I would definitely recommend this course.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Peter

Thanks so much for being such a willing and enthusiastic student! I do hope you’ll wish to invest in some tools and keep on with spoon carving and perhaps explore the wider world of green woodworking- and do let me know if you’d like to attend a follow-on session.

In-person course
Amanda Miles - - #34051

A fantastic day. Setting beautiful and tutor brilliant.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Thanks so much for your review, Amanda. I do hope you’ll continue to take up a sharp knife and continue carving!

In-person course
Dan Connors - - #33580

David was really knowledgeable and his teaching experience, matched with his experience of green woodworking meant that throughout the day we learnt at a good pace. The low numbers of participants meant that we had lots of individual support and coaching. After the course David provided a number of recources via email that will help me build on what I learnt on the day.

In-person course
Sophie Cotmore - - #33100

A great introduction to green wood carving at a beautiful outdoor venue (with an indoor option and roaring fire to warm up if need be !). The day was friendly and relaxed, but packed full of demonstrations, instruction, advice and tips, history of the craft, inspiration, and of course, lots of hands on practice on a piece of wood we could select ourselves from hazel, apple or birch (amongst others).
The tutors were attentive, friendly, and clearly very skilled and passionate about their craft.
The tools we used were really in fabulous condition, and beautiful in themselves. I was very impressed and am keen to get my own set of tools.
The group was small enough to get plenty of 121 time with the tutors, who clearly have a vast knowledge of working with wood.
This day is a great experience, and great value for money. Highly recommend it!

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Sophie

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and considered review! I’m so pleased you enjoyed your day and are ready for a journey into woodcarving and spoon making. Teaching is such a reciprocal activity so thanks also for being such an attentive and engaged student. Keep making shavings.

In-person course
Tom Dale - - #33038

This is a brilliant course. All four of us came away with our own spoons and with big smiles on our faces. David and Mike are the perfect mix of hands-on and hands-off, giving help where needed while always encouraging you to try the techniques and the tools yourself. I highly recommend the course!

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Thanks so much for your positive review, Tom. It was an absolute pleasure to work with you over the day and I do hope you’ll be able to continue to carve and continue to smile!

In-person course
William Locke - - #33027

This was a great course that my 22 year old son and I really enjoyed - lots of really useful instruction on the basics, from tree to (nearly) completed spoon. David and Mike were extremely helpful and friendly - showing us many useful techniques, but giving us plenty of hands-on experience too. The setting was perfect.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Bill, I’m so glad you and your son enjoyed the day. Despite the weather Mike and I had a great time tutoring you and it was gratifying to see your spoons emerge from a chunk of wood over the course of a day. I hope you feel inspired to continue carving and invest in a toolset to keep making shavings!

In-person course
Lux - - #32710

This is a fantastic course! David and Mike are experienced tutors. They are passionate about woodcraft, they are knowledgeable and professional. They paid attention to each student in the class. My boyfriend and I are absolute beginners for woodcraft, we learnt a lot on the day, with the help from the tutors, we both managed to get a spoon done. It was a happy learning experience and a great fun day! The workshop is located at Hill End such a beautiful place in Oxford. Thank you so much, David and Mike! :) All the best!

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Lux it was a real pleasure to introduce you and Eccles to the joys of wood carving. I’m so glad you enjoyed the day and I do hope it has triggered a continuing interest in wood crafts. I look forward to seeing you on further courses, perhaps?

In-person course
Evgenia Woodward - - #32677

I really enjoyed the day. It was a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. David and his assistant Mike are both wonderful teachers, passionate about green woodworking and ready to share their knowledge and experience. Their teaching manner is very encouraging and inspiring, helping their students to discover a talent for spoon carving.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Thanks so much for the review, Evgenia. It is really helpful to get positive feedback to keep us motivated for the next course and group of students. Take care, David

In-person course
Andrew Woodward - - #32663

This course was a gift from my wife and it was a very enjoyable day. David and Mike are knowledgeable, friendly and are never far away when you need help or advice. The spoon making experience involves a set of skills few of us possess from log splitting to carving with both axe and knives. These skills keep you busy all day and are well demonstrated and explained. There is also a good array of tools to try to suit individual preferences for weights, blade lengths etc. The follow up notes are also excellent for anyone who wants to put the finishing touches to their creation or for those who are inspired to pick up a new hobby. Highly recommended.

Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Thanks so much for your review, Andrew. It was rather exciting that you didn’t know quite what your birthday present was- I’m so pleased that your wife chose something you enjoyed. I look forward to hearing how your new-found craft skills progress.

In-person course
Tom Dixon - - #31915

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.
Highly recommended!

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!

I do hope Santa isn’t grounded by covid and brings you some nice sharp things to play with in the months ahead. Do stay in touch and let me know if you need a supply of green wood- I’m sure we can help! All best David

In-person course
Bogdan Iovanovici - - #31893

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!

In-person course
Helen McCuaig-Finlay - - #31891

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.

In-person course
Otto Frohmader - - #31879

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.
100% recommend

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.

In-person course
Andrew Braund - - #30841

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!

In-person course
Ruth Stavris - - #30719

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!

In-person course
adrian bird - - #30707

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!

In-person course
Linda W - - #30701

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.

In-person course
Hannah Hart-George - - #30692

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!

In-person course
Philip Hodsdon - - #30690

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

In-person course
Rachel - - #30683

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!

In-person course
Angela Edward - - #30679

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

In-person course
Lucie - - #30561

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Response from David Knight Woodland Crafts:

Hi Lucie

Thanks so much for the review. The course I taught with you will be unforgettable, not so much for Storm Brendan that hit us, nor feeding the goats in the rain but because you were a great group of students! Keep making shavings!

In-person course
Roger H - - #30458

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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.

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