Ask a carver – Will Priestley

☞ How long have you been into spoon carving?

I started in early 2014 but but it became more than just a hobby about 3 years ago.

☞ Why Spoons?

I wanted an excuse to buy an axe! I was working in conservation, so had lots of fresh wood available to me, and had a friend who had carved a few spoons so I thought I’d give it a go. Needless to say, I got hooked and have been doing it ever since! I still get all of my wood from local conservation projects.

☞ Social media, yes/no? Do you make use of multiple platforms or do you limit your online presence to only a few? Which ones do you find the most beneficial to what you do and offer?

I mostly use Instagram these days, it’s a great platform to share my work and connect with other people who, in the pre-social media days, I’d never know about. I also have a website from which I send out regular newsletters to keep people up to date with new products, blog posts, giveaways and lots more.

☞ How does your partner react to wood chips and your spoon carving?

She is incredibly supportive and has an excellent eye so she’s my last line in quality control! As long as I don’t leave wood chips all over the place, we don’t have a problem!

☞ Would you care to share the best pro tip you ever received with us?

There is no substitute for time and practice. Every spoon carver you admire has put in the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears (literally!) to reach that point. Also, a good axe block is a real game changer!

☞ How do you like to finish your spoons?

I like to paint some of my spoons. I use milk paint, which is really quick drying and comes in some lovely, earthy colours that match wood beautifully. Whether I paint the spoons or leave them natural, I always treat them with pure linseed oil.

☞ What are your three most favorite tools in your kit?

Every tool is equally important as they all play a vital role, but I do enjoy swinging the axe about!

☞ What is your most favorite part about carving a spoon?

I love the finishing cuts. Just a few tiny cuts and details can transform a pretty rough looking spoon in to something much more elegant and refined.

☞ How do you approach sharpening your tools?

I use wet-and-dry sandpaper for my knives (on a flat block of wood for the sloyd knife and rolled up for the hook knife) and I have a stone I use for the axe. Then I use a leather strop to finish everything.

Will is offering his scoop design as a template in flexible plastic.

☞ How/where to you get your carving wood?

My wood is all a by-product of local conservation work. Foraging my own wood and knowing exactly where it came from and the reason the trees were felled is very important to me. I’ll never cut down a tree just for the wood.

☞ Where do you like to carve?

I have a great little space at home where I do most of my work.

☞ Do you have a favorite joke that you’d like to share.

Why do the French only need one egg for breakfast? Because in France, one egg is “un oeuf”.

☞  Lessons learned from cutting yourself?

It hurts, don’t do it again!

☞ Other than just spoons do you carve other items as well?

It’s mostly spoons, but I also turn bowls on the pole lathe.

☞ One Spoon, two knives. Which ones do you choose?

My most used spoon is one of my old ones. It’s a soup spoon but I use it for all sorts of things. It’s made from apple wood, is sanded (I used to sand all of my spoons) and has a pyrography detail on the handle. The only two knives I use are the Mora 106 and a Fawcett blade made by Nic Westermann

☞ Who is/are your favorite toolmaker/s?

Unlike a lot of spoon carvers, I own very few tools! Granfors Bruks for the axe, Mora for the sloyd knife and Nic Westermann for the hook knife. I also use a folding bucksaw, made by a very handsome spoon carver by the name of Will Priestley!

☞ Do you have a philosophy about the hand carved wooden spoon?

Form follows function. A beautiful spoon quickly loses its beauty if it’s not also a pleasure to use.

☞ What are your thoughts/experience on collaborative work?

I do like a good collaboration every now and then. I’ve found that working with someone else, especially outside your own discipline, can be inspiring and influential.

☞ What do you think about making your spoon blanks available to other carvers?

I think it’s a great idea! It’s easy to forget that not everyone has as easy access to wood as I do or a space for axe work. It can also be really helpful to work off someone else’s ‘template’. I’d be really interested to see some of the spoons made from my blanks, I bet some of them end up better than my spoons!

Will's popular feather spoon. Also available as a template in flexible plastic.

☞ What’s your process for creating the crank on your spoons?

Wherever possible, I use the natural shape of the wood. But in straight-grained wood, I saw a stop-cut and axe down to it from both sides. The crank can be a bit of a daunting prospect for beginners but once you get a good method, it’s not very hard at all!

Follow Will on Instagram at @wpwoodcraft check out his work at


Via The Spoon Crank, Will is offering his spoon blanksfolding bucksaw as well as his scoop design and popular feather spoon templates in flexible and fully recyclable plastic.

Will's bucksaw and spoon blanks available for purchase via The Spoon Crank

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