Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born and raised in the Detroit, Michigan area and have lived in Metro Detroit my whole life. I’m married, for 25 years this year, and have 3 sons, one who still lives at home. I spent my formative years as a nerd, but in high school my dad decided to build a log cabin on our vacation property. this was my first real exposure to woodworking, and even though I hated it at the time it is one of my best memories from my teenage years. After I moved out and got a job I fell off the woodworking bandwagon and didn’t really think about building anything until after my kids were teenagers and I was looking for a hobby to occupy my newly found free time.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I starting doing some small woodworking projects 4 or 5 years ago and was digging around on YouTube for videos to watch about different types of woodworking. The algorithm recommended a spooncarving video to me. I had no idea that people carved spoons with knives and axes and was instantly fascinated and intrigued. I think the video was Lee Stoffer. I went to the local Woodcraft store and picked up a tiny right-handed Flexcut spoon knife and carved a terrible spoon from a walnut branch in my backyard. I am a lefty, which made it even harder, but I was totally addicted after just one terrible spoon.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
I have a lot of hobbies and a short attention span, so I never have a ton to spend on spooncarving tools. I started with a Mora 106 and some budget wrong handed knives, again from the Woodcraft store because they were impulse buys. Last year I asked my wife to get me a Deepwoods Ventures large hook knife and this year she got me a straight sloyd from Paul as well and I love them both and they are by far my favorite.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I bought Barn’s spoon book and enjoyed it, but I’m not much of a non-fiction reader. I read a ton of Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels, but that is and interview for another website! I subscribed to the first 3 or 4 issues of Spoonesaurus magazine and enjoyed them as well. Matt and Emmet make an awesome magazine and they are so full of knowledge that it leaks out and has to be mopped up occasionally.
I’ve become somewhat infamous as the spork guy on Instagram with separate account (@sporkesaurus) and two issues of my own fake newsletter magazine. It was enjoyed and praised by nearly 10’s of people on Instagram, so I guess I’m probably almost half as funny as I think I am.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
Emmet Van Driesche was the first Instagram carver I followed and idolized. I’m also a huge fan of Pat Diette, and nearby carver Cale Stoker. It sounds cheesy but my biggest inspiration comes from the spoon nerds I carve with almost every day on the @riseupandcarve channel on Zoom. Infamous super-genius Chuck Trella had the idea last February to start on online carving group on zoom for all the folks who couldn’t meet face to face regularly. These folks keep me honest and laughing every morning, and I have carved 3-4 times as many spoons in the last year than I did the 3 years of carving before that, and they are better spoons.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
My biggest spoon-carving challenge is patience. I don’t have any. Short attention span coupled with a desire to learn and try any craft I encounter makes it hard for me to get genuinely good at any of the crafts I tinker with. I think I have changed most since the beginning by slowing down ad trying to focus on following the grain and finishing cuts. I don’t use templates and draw out each spoon only once after I axe in the crank. This means my spoons are often crooked and irregular, but I like them that way, and I wouldn’t enjoy the hobby as much if I changed my style to make cleaner and more regular spoons.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
I have used milk paint on a few spoons and I love the look. Kolrosing and chipcarving are beautiful and I love to see them, but I would not try them myself. I’m weirdly an imperfect perfectionist. I think if I tried these detailed techniques I would get mad at myself for not being very good at them, and it would spoil the experience for me a bit. Is that odd?
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
I’m not a deep thinker. I live in the moment, bouncing from hobby to hobby and not spending a lot of time thinking and analyzing the craft. For me personally, I love the connection to history that it makes me feel, and I am fascinated by the fact that this ancient craft has made a comeback in a weird, modern, digital age. I am a computer nerd in my day job, and since I started spoon carving I barley touch my PC at night, spending most of my time watching and talking to other carvers. I think the connection to doing something with your hands is missing from a lot of people’s lives right now, and carving spoons gives you that outlet, and some cool sporks when you are done!
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s. I listen to a lot of classic rock and 80’s and 90’s alternative rock, but lately I have gotten into americana artists and old 70’s country music like Jerry Reed and Bobby Bare. If you have even a passing interest in country or americana check out the album by Bobby Bare Great American Saturday night. It was written with the goofy author Shel Silverstein and performed in front of a live audience back in 1978, but just released this year. It is funny, profane, (oh no, some swears!!!!) and touching.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
I carve spoons because it is fun and relaxing. I have sold a few here and there, given away and traded a few more, and had so much fun doing both. The people are great, the tools are awesome, and I get to make people laugh on @riseupandcarve every morning with bad jokes and sporks.
Thanks Ron! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @nerdron or on his website at nerdron.com.