Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tooled or Sanded?

When finishing off something like a spoon, do you opt for a traditional tooled finish or do you opt for the more 'modern' sanded finish?

Me?, well i use both finishes and can see the merits of both, in my mind there is nothing wrong with opting to go for a sanded finish or a tooled finish, it's your spoon, finish it how you like, although some will try to convince you that sanding is the stuff of the Devil and is to be avoided at all costs, even to the point of charging their customers more for a sanded finish on wooden-ware, because they really do hate sanding that much.

You know what?, there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, they are the maker and it's their choice of what finish they wish to apply, fair play to them for taking the extra time and effort to get a tooled finish on their products, likewise with those who take the time to sand their wooden-ware by hand, going through the grits from coarse to fine and sometimes to extra fine, it's their product and therefore their choice as to how it's finished, what really gets my goat, is when self proclaimed 'guru's' publicly bemoan those who choose to sand their products, because 'they' don't like it, so what?, perhaps those who sand, don't like a tooled finish, to my mind there is no right or wrong way to finish an item, surely, it's the choice of the individual making the thing and if they like it, then it's correct by default?.

Rough Tooled Finish
When i finish my spoons, spatulas, bowls etc., i use a finish that suits the style and design of the product, i.e., not a single one of my Medieval Spoons has ever, or will ever, have a sanded finish as it's out of context, but, some spoons & bowls, in my opinion, just look better with a sanded finish, ive made things before and taken ages to give it a tooled finish and when ive finished it, it just looks, well, wrong basically, so ive attacked it with sandpaper and indeed vice versa, tooled a sanded finish, as long as the maker of the item is happy, i personally don't see a problem with the way an item is finished, be that tooled, sanded or even scraped smooth with a piece of broken glass or cabinet scraper.

Of course both finishes have their benefits and indeed drawbacks, both finishes are time consuming and yes, going down through all of those grits to get a fine finish can be very boring and of course everything, including you, gets covered in dust, a tooled finish, probably takes longer to do than carving the spoon itself, as you are making hundreds, if not, thousands of tiny cuts to achieve a smooth finish that can, if done correctly and with care, rival a sanded finish, as i see it, both finishes have their merits and to my mind, neither are wrong, although some of the 'self proclaimed' will try to convince you otherwise.

So what finish do i use the most for things like spoons?, well, it's a tooled finish, but i do sand as well and to further complicate matters, i also use both finishes on some of my wooden-ware, so a bowl might have a sanded exterior, but the inner surface will be tooled.


  1. This is a great post Kepis. I've watched videos and read blog posts on how the ONLY way to finish an item is with a tooled finish. I feel very much the same way as you do. If you make it, finish it like you want to finish it. If someone else doesn't finish it the way you do, that's perfectly fine too.