clock menu more-arrow no yes

Build It | Hand-carved Utensils

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor hand carve wooden serving utensils using leftover pine from a previous Build It project

Steps for building hand-carved wooden utensils:

  1. Trace out an outline of the utensils on a piece of paper and cut it out to use as a template on the wood.
  2. Place the paper template on the scrap wood being used for the utensils. Trace the outline over a decent section of the wood with straight grain and no knots.
  3. Cut the scrap wood into a workable piece using the cross-cutting side of a Japanese pull saw.
  4. While still using the Japanese pull saw, make relief cuts along the outline of the utensils. This will make the wood easier to cut later on.
  5. Make a rough thickness cut using the Japanese pull saw so that the utensils are roughly the desired depth. This can be fine-tuned later.
  6. Use the coping saw to cut out the outline of the utensil. The relief cuts should make this step easier.
  7. Start fine-tuning the shape of each utensil, using a variety of hand tools. The spoke shave is good for the handle, and the rasp is a little better for the head of the utensil.
  8. Scoop out the heads of each utensil using a curved gouge. Using the gouge, work your way to the lowest point of the utensil in the center and then come back up. Work all the way around the head of each utensil to give the curve a unified look.
  9. Sand the utensils smooth using 80-, 120-, and 240-grit sandpaper.
  10. Wipe down the utensils with a tack cloth.
  11. Apply a food grade wood finish using a rag.


Tom and Kevin carved the utensils out of some leftover southern white pine that they used for Build It | Wine Rack, which can be viewed here.

To cut and carve the spoon and fork, Tom picked out a variety of hand carving tools, including a carving gouge, spoke shave, a couple different rasps, a coping saw, a Japanese pull saw, and a hand plane. Some of these tools can be found at home centers, but it will be easier to locate them all at specialty woodworking shops.

The sandpaper Tom and Kevin used to smooth down the utensils can be found at home centers.

To finish the utensils, Tom and Kevin applied a Butcher Block Conditioner, which is manufactured by Howard Products and can be found at home centers.