Patterns & Projects

Carving a Traditional Lovespoon

Classic heart design is a great project for novice carvers

By David Western

This simple design is the pattern I use with beginner carvers in my lovespoon carving classes. Although it is a straightforward design, it contains several elements that will assist new carvers in learning important carving techniques.

Shaping the abundant curved edges will vividly illustrate the importance of following the wood’s grain. The design also contains over-under work, which will prepare you for undertaking more complicated knotwork patterns as your skills progress. The opportunity to do some cutting out (known as fretwork) will develop patience, tenacity, and motor skills. I recommend carving your first spoon from an easily worked timber such as basswood, poplar, or alder. Using pine or similar softwoods will make for easier carving, but will require razor-sharp edges on the tools for a crisp finish.


Wood of choice: ¾” x 3″ x 11″ (19mm x 76mm x 27.9cm)

• Deft clear Danish oil
• Assorted grits of sandpaper

Scroll saw

• Carving knife of choice, such as Bent knife
• Drill with bits: 1/8″ (3mm)-dia.
• Paintbrush and rags to apply Danish oil


What Makes a Good Design?


What Makes a Poor Design?

The first thing you notice about this design is the spoon bowl is not quite symmetrical. The top heart is too small and the shape is incongruent with the rest of the design. The overall design is boring and repetitious with nothing to grab a viewer’s interest. The scrolls are too thick and feel too big. The elements, stacked on top of each other, have no flow. Your eye stops each time it encounters a new design element.


Balance and Symmetry

The design presented here is symmetrical and balanced. The elements are connected and there is a flow between the sections. The eye travels freely up and down the handle. The central heart breaks up the repitition of the scrolled designs and gives the spoon a strong focal point. The scrolls are unobtrusive and don’t feel contrived or forced. The overall spoon feels natural and cohesive.


CLICK HERE to download the Carving a Lovespoon Pattern.


Carving-a-Traditional-LovespoonLearn to create beautiful lovespoons—handcarved symbols of love and deep affection that have been popular for centuries—in the Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons by David Western. With three step-by-step projects and 15 original patterns, this book will help you enjoy the craft no matter what your carving skill level. The book is available for purchase from for $24.99 plus S&H.


CLICK HERE to read more great articles from Woodcarving Illustrated Holiday 2008 (Issue 45).




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