Repurposing Leftover Lumber into a Handmade Spatula
As a woodworker, I often find myself with small leftover pieces of lumber from various projects. While some scraps inevitably end up as kindling or in the recycling bin, I like to repurpose as much of my leftover wood as possible. One fun way I’ve found to make use of small wood offcuts is by transforming them into handmade kitchen utensils, like spatulas. With just a few simple tools and a little bit of time, you can give new life to leftover lumber and create a unique, homemade spatula.
Selecting and Preparing the Wood
The first step is choosing a suitable piece of leftover wood. I prefer using hardwoods like maple, walnut, oak, or cherry for spatulas, as they are durable and food-safe. The wood should be free of defects and at least 1/4 inch thick. I like to use pieces that are approximately 8 inches long by 2 inches wide, but the size can vary depending on the scrap wood available.
Once I’ve selected a suitable wood piece, I sand it smooth, making sure to remove any rough edges. I also round over the corners slightly with sandpaper to prevent splintering. This prep work ensures the wood will be comfortable to handle when made into a spatula.
Shaping the Spatula
With the wood blank prepared, it’s time to shape it into a spatula. I first draw the spatula profile onto the wood using a pencil. A standard spatula has a long, narrow neck that flares outwards into a wide, rounded head. The handle end remains rectangular.
I then use a bandsaw to cut out the spatula profile following my layout lines. Make sure to leave the edges slightly oversized so they can be sanded smooth later on. I wear safety glasses and hearing protection when using power tools like the bandsaw to prevent injuries.
Once the rough shaping is complete, I use a disc sander to refine the curves and smooth all the edges. The rounded edges prevent food from sticking and make the spatula more comfortable to use. I frequently check the fit and feel of the spatula in my hand as I sand to ensure it will be ergonomic.
Finishing the Wood
With the spatula sanded and shaped, I’m ready to apply a food-safe finish. My go-to is food-grade mineral oil, which protects the wood, enhances the natural grain, and is completely harmless. I soak the sanded spatula in mineral oil and allow it to penetrate the wood fully. Then I rub off any excess oil with a clean cloth. I like to apply 2-3 coats, letting the oil soak in between applications.
As an optional decorative touch, I sometimes lightly burn the edges of the spatula using a wood burning pen before oiling. This darkens the end grain and gives some visual interest. I wear a respirator mask when wood burning to avoid inhaling any fumes.
Enjoying Your Handmade Spatula
Once the mineral oil finish has cured, the repurposed wood spatula is ready to be put to use in the kitchen! I like to hang my homemade spatulas near the stove so they are always at the ready when cooking. The handmade quality and unique wood grain pattern make these spatulas far more interesting than store-bought ones.
Giving leftover lumber new life as a spatula is a satisfying woodworking project. With some basic tools and a scrap piece of wood, you can make a useful kitchen utensil that looks handcrafted. Try repurposing your woodshop scraps the next time you need a new spatula!