Cedar is well known for its aromatic scent and excellent rot resistance, making it a great choice for wood carvings that will be in and around water. But if you wish to use Cedar for carving spoons you have to be a little more careful.
Cedar is not usually used for carving spoons as the wood is considered to be an irritant, and in some cases will cause skin irritation. Ceder sawdust is also known to cause various respiratory issues like runny nose, asthma-like symptoms and in some rare cases kidney problems.
There are many different verities of cedar, but only western red cedar is used for plank cooking. Other types of ceder, like eastern cedar, can contain resins that can release when used for cooking.
If you are using an unsealed spoon made from cedar and dip it into hot water or food, it can release the oils and resins inside of the wood and contaminate the food you are touching with the spoon. While small doses of these oils and resins are normally harmless, large amounts from certain species of cedar can irritate the skin.
The act of carving cedar can also be harmful to the craftsman if they don’t take the proper precautions. It is highly recommended to wear some sort of respiratory protection when carving wood with a saw or are in some way creating sawdust as some verities of ceder are known to cause asthma.
What Can You Carve and Whittle With Cedar?
Even if you shouldn’t use cedar for eating utensils, it is a good wood to carve and craft with. The wood is resilient and somewhat easy to carve with.
Cedar excels at being rot resistant and durable enough for outdoor use. Many common uses are duck decoys, paddles, outdoor figurines, and even canoes.
You can essentially carve anything from cedar that you could with basswood or even pine. The only real things you have to worry about is if someone who is going to be handling or using the wood may have an allergic reaction.
Is Cedar Easy to Carve?
Cedar is easy enough to carve if you use the right type. The different species of cedar all have different properies that make them easier or harder to carve.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that cedar easily splits down the wood grain and it is beneficial to use lots of stop cuts to prevent accidentally stripping off wood you wanted to keep.
Some of the easier types of cedar to carve is Eastern Red Cedar and yellow Cedar. If you are just starting out, don’t use Western Red Cedar as it will be harder to carve and may give you a bad experience.
What Wood Should You Use to Carve Spoons?
If you are going to carve a spoon, some woods work better than others and will result in some nicely finished spoons.
Some of the best woods for spoon carving are easy to carve hardwoods like black walnut, soft maple, cherry, or poplar. These make for an enjoyable wood carving experience and have beautiful results.
Eventually, you can use harder woods like beech, maple, olive, or bamboo but it would be best to carve these types of woods after you have some experience making a few spoons. The wood will be harder to carve and you may run into difficulty cutting into the wood.
Ideally, you want to use a hardwood to prevent the spoon from cracking over time. Softer woods may be more likely to warp and crack with constant temperature change and moisture levels.
If you want to buy some great quality wood for spoon carving, click here to check out Butternut Spoon Carver’s Etsy Store as he specializes is spoon blanks to get you started.
For more carving tips and tricks, check out my one stop whittling resource for more information: