How to Satin Finish a Spoon

One of the aims in my spoon carving to to strive to achieve a “satin smooth” finish. Indeed many folk ask me about this. The answer in a nutshell is patience and lots of sanding!


Walnut scoop

Walnut is a case in point – has a rather brittle grain that easily lifts when carving. Your knife therefore, must be very sharp! You must also pay close attention to the angle of each cut and the direction of the grain. More about this in a later post.

When you have achieved your spoon as far as the knife will take you, then it is time to start sanding. I usually start with an 80 grit just for a very few light passes over any “difficult areas. Then we move straight on to a 120 or 150 grit. I try to always ensure I sand in the same direction as the grain flows. Another rule of thumb for me is that the higher the number of the grit the longer I am going to spend sanding.


Walnut spoon “bowl”

The bowl area is usually the most interesting and never be tempted to sand in a circular motion – stay with the direction of the grain. In a later post I shall show you a tool to help.

If all marks have now been removed, then we move on to a 220 grit remembering this is the longest time you now spend with the sandpaper. I usually have a new piece and several older pieces of sandpaper  that are somewhat worn out. Those I use to get a nice fine finish.

Now the water treatment. I dip the spoon very briefly in water and then let it dry. This lifts the grain that is not set and you start sanding it again when the spoon is dry – using the 220 grit. This process is repeated a few times until the water treatment leaves the spoon still quite smooth.

Now I jump right up to a 400 grit finishing paper – I have lots of “old” pieces which are really smooth and they help me get a satin smooth finish. Rub, rub, and rub some more! Then when your think it is done – rub some more!

Then it is time to finish the spoon in an oil based finish of your choice. Another later blog will deal with what I use. A final burnish with clean cloth does it for me.


Spalted Birch

Enjoy your hobby!

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