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The Earlywood Guide to Handmade Wooden Kitchen Utensils

April 07, 2021 0 Comments

Earlywood founder creating handmade wooden cooking tools

It’s amazing what you can make from some blanks of hardwood and a creative set of hands. From a versatile spatula, to a classic soup ladle, or even a gorgeous rolling pin, the options are endless! A hand crafted wooden utensil should be a family heirloom and a joy to use. 

This love for craftsmanship and passion for cooking is what inspired Brad Bernhart to create Earlywood in 2010. Coming from an engineering background, he always enjoyed woodworking and crafting with his hands. Brad was making wooden spoons to take his mind off engineering work and wanted to try selling a few online. Earlywood was born! 

In this post, we want to dig deeper into the how’s and why’s of handmade wooden kitchen utensils. As you can tell, we are passionate about this stuff (a little nerdy, right?) but we think you will be too after learning more!

Why Hardwoods?

Hardwoods we use for cooking tools

Before we get to the fun stuff, first let’s go back to the beginning - the source, or put simply, the woods we use for our kitchen utensils. We use 4 kinds of hardwoods for all our products: jatoba, Mexican ebony, hard maple and bloodwood. If you want to learn about these hardwoods, you can read more details about them here.

So… why hardwoods? It’s very simple… we want to make the best utensils possible. We want your grandkids to pass your old Earlywood utensils on to their grandkids! It’s the unique properties of hardwoods that will allow this to happen! Hardwoods are durable and tough , but most importantly, they are dense. That means they don’t soak up water, flavors or smells. Some hardwoods grow in the US (cherry, walnut), but those woods are like sponges compared to the woods we use. So where do we get our woods?

Where Do Our Hardwoods Come From?

Logs for making hand crafted kitchen tools

Three of the four hardwoods we use are considered “exotic” and can only be sourced from tropical regions outside the US. We only want the highest quality woods for our products so this was non-negotiable for us. However, we did do a lot of research before choosing sources for our hardwoods and these are the features that we considered:

1. Responsible Harvesting - How are their woods harvested? It’s very important that the woods we’re using were obtained through legal means. Unfortunately, purchasing from a popular, name-brand store does not guarantee that you’re actually getting sustainably logged lumber.

2. Sustainable Forestry - Along with responsible harvesting, we also wanted to work with a company who does sustainable forestry. How do they manage the forests where the woods come from? Do they implement sustainable forestry practices such as replanting or selective logging?

3. Local Supporting - Local communities play a huge role in preserving the natural biodiversity of tropical rainforests. We wanted a company that is truly local supporting and ensures that there is work for the locals who live where the woods are harvested. 

Some of our hardwoods come from a US based company called World Timber Corp. They source their woods from particular mills around Mexico, Central America and South America. The owners are very hands on, visiting the sawmills where the woods are harvested each year to make sure that the production quality is up to their high standards.

Hardwoods for creating handmade cooking tools

If you want to learn more about how we source our woods, please read this  post.

Why Buy Handmade Wooden Kitchen Utensils?

In a world where you can easily buy cheap, mass-produced goods, why bother purchasing handmade? We can give you a hundred reasons but let’s keep it short with our top 10:

1. Superior Quality - Each Earlywood product is guaranteed high quality and we never cut corners. From the premium hardwoods we use, to the meticulously designed products and craftsmanship, we make sure that we give only our best! This is what makes our wooden utensils superior quality. We make  “buy-me-once products” that aren’t just stunning to look at but are also durable and perform well in the kitchen.

Elegant handcrafted wooden cooking tools

2. Inspiring - If a wooden utensil doesn’t inspire you to cook more, we don’t know what will. Imagine just how much history goes into making one wooden spoon, from the years-old tree it came from, to the hard work the artist did to create the piece. As you continue to use a wooden utensil over the years, it gains personality and character making it that much more satisfying to use.

3. One-of-a-Kind - Because of differences in wood grain and the process of making each utensil. Each wooden utensil is quite unique. That wooden ladle or wooden spatula in your kitchen is a one of a kind!

Earlywood wooden server spoons in different hardwoods

4. For the Love of Small - When you buy a handmade product (not necessarily wooden utensils), you’re supporting small businesses. Purchasing from Earlywood helps us employ a team of 9 people (currently) in our small mountain town of Red Lodge, Montana.

5. Personal Service - You’re not just another customer to us. We take pride in what we do and want to provide you the most personal, hands-on customer service because you matter to us. We are fully aware that without you… there would be no us! Our motto is “We will make it right” and we will.

Earlywood cute personal, unique packaging for orders

6. The Feel - Hold a handcrafted wooden spoon in one hand and hold a mass produced, stamped out steel spoon in your other. The wood just feels better!

7. Timeless - Why go disposable when you can get forever? Our handmade wooden utensils are really sturdy and can last a long, long time (with proper care and oiling). Whether it’s a wooden spoon, spatula or ladle, its beauty is timeless and perfect for any kitchen! Our lifetime warranty is always there too if yours doesn’t last longer than you do!

Beautiful handcrafted French, tapered rolling pins

8. Unique Gift Idea - Handcrafted kitchen utensils are the best gifts because they’re special, thoughtful and most importantly, made with love. Some of our most popular gift sets are The Trifecta (perfect for new cooks) and The Newlywood Set (perfect for newlyweds).

9. More Eco-Friendly - We make our products out of a small, local workshop in Red Lodge, Montana (not a large factory in the middle of nowhere). We try to salvage every last bit of wood we use and we also do our part to help restore the rainforest in Brazil. You can read about our Sustainability Efforts here.

Our wood scraps to be turned into pen blanks

10. Minimalist in design, not function  - Take a good look at some of our products here. What comes to your mind? We want our products to stand out because of their functionality so we designed them exactly that way. Our utensils are solid, practical and minimalist! Our goal is to give you versatile cooking tools that can do most (if not all) jobs in your kitchen.

Fan Favorites: Earlywood’s Handmade Wooden Utensils

Excited to try out handmade cooking implements? We rounded up our most popular handcrafted kitchen sets to help you get started + some customer stories to get you even more stirred up!  

Flat Sauté Set - This three-piece set of flat wooden utensils is all you need to create some magic in your kitchen. It includes our three different sized spatulas: large, medium and small. Perfect for sautéing, stirring, flipping, tasting and a whole lot more!

Beautiful flat wooden handcrafted spatulas in hard maple

Flat Saute Set in Ebony, Jatoba and Bloodwood

These amazingly crafted pieces are like art. They exude a quality unmatched in the marketplace. I clean them and leave them out on top of my Staub cocotte, rather than putting them in a drawer. They deserve to be seen. Who knew something as mundane as a saute spatula can be turned into something much greater? I commend Brad, the founder, for making such fine products. This was my first purchase of Earlywood products, it certainly will not be my last!

- Michael

The Trifecta - The ideal trio for just about any cooking task! The Trifecta brings together our large flat sauté tool, scraper and spreader into one awesome bundle. You can’t go wrong with this combo! It is the original Earlywood set and thousands and thousands of customers can’t be wrong!

Handmade wooden spatulas in hardwoods

Trifecta in Jatoba, Hard Maple and Ebony

I absolutely love my Earlywood set of tools! The flat sauté is perfect for making stir fry dishes or scrambled eggs, the scraper always comes in handy when making creamy sauces, and the spreader is always the star of my charcuterie boards. These are always my go-to for gifts for friends and family and the customer service could not be better. I've owned my set for over a year now and they are still as beautiful as they were the day I got them. Don't hesitate to scoop these up for yourself!

- Erin L.

The Essentials - This set takes The Trifecta up a notch with an extra large flat sauté tool. Such a simple addition but it makes a huge difference! Perfect to pair with your delicate cookware. Once you cook with a large flat saute in each hand… you will NEVER go back to cooking with just one saute at a time.

These were the first set of wooden utensils that I actually bought for my cookware. As I had made an investment on high quality cookware, having the necessary tools that would maintain the longevity of said pots was very important to me. These tools age like a well cared for cutting board, with the proper oils and cream, they become beautiful additions to any kitchen.

- Christopher H.

Wood Tasting Spoon Set - These versatile wooden spoons are must haves for any kitchen. You can use them for stirring (thanks to the long handle), tasting and scraping. This four-piece set is the perfect gift for avid cooks and entertainers as well.

I love these tasting spoons. They feel light, yet strong. They allow me to reach into a pot of bubbling sauce for a taste without fear of getting burned. They are also perfect for mixing a jar of natural peanut butter - reaching down to the very bottom of the jar without displacing too much oil. A set is a great way to get one for your own kitchen and leave several stashed for the perfect hostess gift. Unless you're so excited about them that you end up giving them away to the next 3 people who visit.

- Morgan

Serving Spoon Set - This set will take care of all your serving needs! It includes our classic ladle, long server and short server. Each piece in this bundle is beautifully crafted, functional and classy.

Handcrafted serving spoon set of three
Serving Spoon Set in Jatoba

Have used these now for the last month and can say I love them all. Love the big bowl sizes with just the right depth for each to properly scoop out and serve perfect amounts. I've always found that other wooden serving spoons have bowls that are too small to easily serve one amount. Highly recommend the full set!

- Carlos R

Here at Earlywood, we are very proud to be crafting premium quality kitchen utensils. We do our utmost to provide excellence in every step of the crafting process. We source only the best materials, design with the user in mind and create each piece with unparalleled craftsmanship. Truly grateful to be doing what we love! If you’re ready to make the switch to handmade wooden cooking tools, do check out our collection here. 

- The Earlywood Team
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