When I began carving, ca.1977, my aim was to make high-quality wooden tools for the kitchen. Each tool needed to be well balanced, to fit the hand and serve the task. Although my repertoire has expanded, I’ve never stopped making utensils for preparing and serving food: my “Table Tools™.”
I use hard maple, select wood appropriate for the utensil, and draw my pattern on the wood. Because each utensil is shaped by hand and eye, there is always subtle variation. As I create a piece I’m holding it in my hand and I simulate the intended use, checking how it feels. I intentionally adjust handle heft and configuration for visual variety and to accommodate a range of hand sizes. Just as the figure (the visible surface of the wood) varies within each tree, it will vary among the completed utensils.
Almost all Table Tools™ are made from figured hard maple. Just as the figure (patterns and flecks) varies within each tree, it will vary among the completed utensils.
I have selected some of the most popular styles for this season’s Virtual Plowshares. Your choices include tools for various tasks, some in different sizes, and most specifically for right-handed or left-handed use. Whatever your selection, it will be a unique piece from a large, harmonious family of carefully created implements.
Approximate length: 13″ / $32
I’ve been making this prosaically-named, rugged tool for at least three decades, with modifications incorporated along the way. It has many uses in mixing, stirring, sauteing, etc. Behind the straight leading edge of the blade, the tool is moderately thin, somewhat like a spatula. This makes it possible to slip under some foods or to lightly scrape, though it is not a substitute for an actual spatula. It is typically held in a “hammer” grip, but of course, not as tightly.
Approximate length: 11″ / $25
This slim utensil is my wife Barb’s favorite and she insists on using one of the very early versions no matter how often I’ve offered an updated replacement. It is quite versatile being almost the only wooden utensil she uses. It can be held in a modified “pencil” grip (same as holding a pencil but closer to the end of the handle) or, for more vigorous stirring, it can also be rotated and held similarly to the aforementioned hammer grip, as preferred by Barbara. It, too, is an excellent sauteing tool.
Approximate length: Short – 5″ to 6″, Medium – >6″ to 8″ / $15
This is perhaps my favorite utensil to make as each is drawn freehand on the wood, they often resemble the knife shapes that I favor, and they provide a use for small fancy pieces of wood that would have no other purpose. The spreaders have a multitude of uses, somewhat dependent on length and blade shape. A short, wide-bladed configuration can be used to serve pate or dip, substituting for a spoon but easier to wipe clean on the edge of the bowl. Frosting cakes is another application. All but the very shortest can be used as mini-cooking utensils for stirring or sauteing in small pots or pans.
Note: The spreaders are typically right-handed because, with their relatively small size, the handedness is not as pronounced and most can be used comfortably in either hand. If you wish to purchase a spreader that is specifically left-handed let me know in the “special instructions” on the order form and I will carve one. There is no extra charge for this.
Approximate length: 9″ / $18
I use one of these every morning to spread peanut butter onto toast or a muffin. The long, flat, straight-edge blade is perfect for this. They reach deeply into a bottle of mayonnaise, mustard or jam, deftly scooping up the last tasty bits. The Long-blade Spreader is also a serviceable mini-cooking tool.
Salad Server Sets
Three sizes: Small (10″) $75, Medium (11″) $85 and Long (13″) $95
Salad Servers have been a mainstay of my work. They are often given as gifts, sometimes with a potter’s beautiful serving bowl. Each set includes a curved paddle shape for the right-hand and a notched fork for the left. The two pieces for each set are taken from the wood in an arrangement so they match in color and figure, and then I take pains to have them match in shape and detail as well. I also make a few sets that have a spoon rather than a paddle for the right-handed piece. This provides marginally better performance and allows the right hand utensil to also be used independently as a serving spoon. There is an additional cost of $40 per set.
When time allows, I am happy to make additional styles and sizes as special order items. If you have something in mind please let me know.