I know a lot of parents agonize over their babies learning to use utensils. I've heard people use that as an argument against baby-led solids. I, however, have no such qualms. Having said that, we have started letting Buttercup experiment with a little metal fork and spoon in the past month (she's 15 months now, by the way). I think metal is better than plastic, since the fork tines tend to be more effective at picking up food. Plus, I am not crazy about plastics.
At first, it's best to offer your baby a pre-loaded spoon or fork. Forks seem to work better, for several reasons. Firstly, stabbing is an easier motion for babies than scooping. Also, babies tend to turn utensils upside-down when they get to their mouths, so if you offer a loaded spoon, it's going to get messy without your guidance.
From there, Buttercup has transitioned into trying to load her own utensils. Because babies are little sponges, they observe how mom and dad do things, and want to copy. Buttercup will pick food up with her left hand and put it on the utensil in her right (dominant) hand. I've found that stickier foods (like starchy or cheesy foods) are easier to manage than other foods (fruits and veggies). Sometimes, especially with runny foods (think soups), Buttercup still needs us to guide the spoon to her mouth.
At this point, utensils are mainly for exploration and fun. Most of the time Buttercup still eats with her hands. Sometimes she'll play with her empty fork/spoon. But, if she isn't interested in a food on her tray, she might suddenly want to eat lots of it if we put it on her fork. That is a helpful trick!