I’m really excited to share this interview with luthier, chairmaker, and spoon carver Richard Platt.
Tell us a little about yourself:
A bit about me, since a child I’ve always been a hands on person, like most spoon carvers, and as such I wanted to be in a creative career. So throughout my early days I dabbled in as many things I could being woodwork, computers, airfix kits and music in the form of a few instruments but prominently classical guitar.
When the time came I went to the University of Manchester where I studied music, and it was here that I decided that I could put this hobby together with another and become an instrument maker: a luthier. So a little after I graduated in 2016 I enrolled in Totnes school of Guitar Making and learned how. This is a little off topic though and luthiery has taken a hobby stance in my life as I have also always been into greenwood working.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I first was introduced to greenwood when I volunteered with Mike Abbott (around when I realized I wanted to include woodwork in my career path) who is a chairmaker. I guess this is where I was introduced to spoon carving but never took is seriously until I got a job with Lawrence Neal as a chairmaker myself, along side Sam Cooper who you may know is a prominent member of the spoon carving community. On our lunch breaks, he would carve and teach me to carve too, so basically I’ve just got more and more into it. So to answer the question of how long I’ve been carving, I guess 4 years would be about right, but I’ve only gotten better in the last year!
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
In my tool box at the moment is a Mora 106 and a Robin Wood compound curve right handed hook knife. I’ve also just gotten myself a Robin Wood carving axe which is superb compared to my old eBay purchase I got when I started.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I have no recommendations for spoon carving beyond Barn’s book: Spōn. However I would recommend Mike Abbott’s books for chairmaking and if you fancy something really different, a couple of luthiery books I adore are Ervin Somogyi’s “the responsive guitar” and Roy Courtnall’s “Making Master Guitars”.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
Sam Cooper absolutely inspires me, his design are modern and his lines are crisp and he makes me want to be a better craftsman everyday.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
I think my technique has changed only in the way that I’m now a better carver. I’m more controlled and deliberate in every knife stroke I take, and I also take my blanks a lot further with the axe that I used to.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
I enjoy all new techniques as long as they’re done tastefully. Too much is often the downfall (of my own spoons too) and toeing the line is crucial. I am always thinking of other methods I can draw from my other crafts to incorporate into spoon carving too. I just haven’t found a good one yet!
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
Greenwood culture to me means taking as many steps as possible back to natural power. So using a handsaw and axe, rather than a bandsaw where possible. And taking careful consideration of each piece you make. It results in each piece being unique, no matter whether you do batch work or not because you take the wood grain and natural characteristic variations much more seriously, even compared to using a handplane to flatten a piece of wood. Quite often wood doesn’t want to be flat!
If you had to pick few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I actually really enjoy podcasts while I do any work that doesn’t require me to either concentrate very hard, or need my ears while I do it. At the moment I’m into The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince. Otherwise I like “natural” music like folk or acoustically music. Laura Marling, Tallest Man on Earth, and The Gloaming are in my currently played tracks right now though.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
I carve spoons because I can, and I’m blessed to be in that position so I may as well make the most of it!
Thanks Richard! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @richardjamesguitars.
As I have said previously, my goals with this website are to learn more about spoon carving and connect with the great community of spoon carvers out there. I welcome carvers to contact me if you would like to be interviewed to share your thoughts on the craft of spoon carving.