Spoon of the Season: Summer
Hello from your favorite American Kitchenware designers! As summer winds down we realize we must share our summer spoon of the season. Hot days call for light, flavorful foods, so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make some pickle forks. Using food safe milk paint allowed us to capture the playful, summery look, contrasting with light maple wood that seems ideal for the hottest, brightest season. Each fork will age and distress in a unique way due to varying grain, and hand painting and finishing.
This pickle fork is handmade from FSC certified hard sugar maple. Like all of my wood products, the process begins with selecting sturdy wood with straight grain. Wood with a lot of figure or character can be attractive in some applications, but simple is best for a tool where strength is important, like the pickle fork with its thin tines. I cut each blank vertically from the lumber so that the flattest most visible faces of the fork would show the best grain.
Using a template, I traced my selected pickle fork shape with a pencil and then cut the profiles with a bandsaw, which left me with twenty rough cut fork-shaped objects. The primary tool I use for shaping is a stationary belt sander with a very heavy grit belt. All of the lines and curves are accomplished by hand and eye. Once all the shapes were defined, I switched sanding belts to a higher grit and further refined and corrected the handle lines and the taper until they were close to the finished shape.
From here, the wetting and sanding process began. Submerging the untreated wood in water causes the grain to act like a sponge and swell. After leaving it to dry in the sun, the swollen grain remains raised and leaves the surface rough. I do this process three times, and sand the wood in between each cycle with increasingly fine grit paper. Once I had all forks to the final cycle, I panted from the handle end down with a beautiful blue milk paint. After allowing the milk paint to dry, I did my final hand sanding of each fork with 320 grit paper. The final sanding is my opportunity to visually ensure that an item is perfect, and correct any potential small flaws in evenness. I sanded back the border between the milk paint and maple, and distressed the paint edges and surface until I was satisfied with the look. Each pickle fork was done by hand and is completely unique.