Sylva Spoon

Spatula Testing

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” 
― Leonardo da Vinci

 One of the many great things Jarrod has taught me so far during the apprenticeship is to sketch out designs before making them. I did a little sketching before the apprenticeship, but more is certainly better. Sketching is an extremely quick way to get an idea out of your head and into the real world. Only then can you start to critique and improve it. 

While sketches are good, a three dimensional item has to be made to be truly appreciated. So I recently went out and made a few variations of spatulas based on some of my sketches. 

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The centre one is similar to a design Jarrod made, and quite a classic spatula shape. The four outside it are variations of the same sketch. The rightmost spatula was my favourite shape, while the other three felt kind of 'samey'.

Aesthetics should be considered. It's important to own things we believe to be beautiful.  However, my motivation behind these was to make a minimalist cooking utensil. So first and foremost it has to work well. There are lots of pretty wooden spoons and spatulas out there. I wonder how many of them actually work well. The only way to find out is to use them.

So I used these to cook a breakfast staple. Scrambled eggs. I quickly discovered a small problem with that plan. Eggs cook rather quickly. In the end I overcooked them. So I suffered through rubbery eggs to bring you all this vital information. You're welcome.

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While I liked the look of this guy, the handle shape wasn't very comfortable. The way it transitions from thick to thin in both planes looks great. The way you hold it when scraping the pan isn't very comfortable though. It could be improved simply by making the whole thing flat.

 Remove the widening of the end of the handle

Remove the widening of the end of the handle

 Make the handle wider in this plane

Make the handle wider in this plane

The other two asymmetrical spatulas performed well. I was surprised that the angle of the scraping edge didn't make much of a difference. I found myself holding all of these at quite a low angle, so having the edge perpendicular to the handle or offset didn't change performance much. I think if the angle of the leading edge goes much past 45 degrees in relation to the handle it might have an impact. For these utensils, anywhere between 45 and 90 degrees works fine. 

 Either thicken the top handle, or add a flare to it, like the bottom handle

Either thicken the top handle, or add a flare to it, like the bottom handle

Most of these spatulas have handles with a square cross-section. I found that a slight flaring of the handle towards its end makes it more comfortable to hold. I also think the handles diameters were a little small. My hands aren't particularly large and these felt undersized. I'd also like the handles to be a couple of centimeters longer.  

Another surprising discovery came with using the symmetrical spatula. I added a slight crank to this one. I find that cooking spoons benefit from having a little crank to them. However for stirring and scraping the eggs, the crank didn't add any benefits. It wasn't more comfortable to use, nor did it make the cooking any easier. 

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I'm going to take what I've learned from this and make some more spatulas. I think I'm going to stick with the asymmetric design with an angled edge. I'll try and few different handle shapes and see which work best. Only through this repeated cycle of planning, making, testing and reviewing can we hope to improve the design and function of the things we make.