Crank: Archaic. a bend; turn.
Spoons can be straight but they are a lot more interesting from a design standpoint if they have “crank.” You can create a crank with an axe as in this photo from Silva Spoon.
Or, you can find a branch with a natural curve and take advantage of this turning of the grain which will make a very strong spoon (or in the case of the following photos—a ladle). I mistakenly thought a branch angling off was the curve I was looking for. What I discovered was that all the grain on the short side was going in a completely different direction and made a weak connection to the larger piece. As I whacked on it with a hatchet the short side busted off a chunk at a time.
But the bend to the crotch was enough, given some crank, that I was able to make it work. (Note to self: this crotch angle is too severe to be useful).
First, here’s a drawing by master carver David Fisher that explains this principle more vividly.
Now take a look at a soup spoon from our silverware drawer. I’d never noticed the “crank” before. But it’s definitely there. This makes an eating spoon ergonomic. Stirring spoons or serving spoons don’t really need crank although it can make them more interesting.
You can get that angle into the piece a couple different ways. You can freehand it with the hatchet (which all the big boy/big girl carvers seem to always call an axe). You can also take a saw and make a stop cut to reduce the possibility of making a mistake.
In this photo you can see a slight bend in the wood. Using the axe I created more crank.
You can see the kerf line which was my stop cut so I didn’t go too far.
The finished ladle has a nice bend in it. Enough to make it useful.
According to the experienced spoon guys using the natural grain will make the piece last longer.