Whittling…..an age old pastime that goes back to the time of our distant ancestors. If you are feeling creative but have little space, no tools, no budget and little time, then whittling could be for you.
The craft of whittling, the baby brother of carving, involves shaping a small piece of wood into an attractive design using a pocket or craft knife.
I have selected some unique, hand crafted toys, featured in Etsy’s catalogue, you might like to give to the younger members of your family.
So what do you need to explore the wonderful world of whittling? Your one and only tool is a knife.
Choosing a Knife
The traditional tool is a pocket knife,,,,the one you used to take to Boy Scouts which has a choice of a couple of sharp blades and a comfortable handle.
A pocket knife is like an old friend…..always around when you want him and you know all of his idiosyncrasies.
If you want to progress to the next level, you can buy a purpose made whittling knife with a fixed blade. You will find it sturdier and more versatile than a pocket knife.
This whittling knife from Flexcut has two blades and an ergonomically designed handle for ease of use. Now you can keep your pocket knife for field trips and the special knife for home use.
Do remember to keep your knives sharp. It will make your whittling more pleasurable as well as ensuring an outstanding creation.
You may like to look at this short video which shows you……………………….. How to sharpen a pocket knife
Choosing The Best Wood
The scrap wood you’ve stored in the roof space of the garage for all those years may not be the best wood to whittle. Ideally the wood should have a straight grain and be free of knots.
Here is a list of the best whittling woods with their pros and cons…..
Basswood It may not surprise you to learn that Basswood is the wood of choice for whittlers and carvers.
It has been used in church decoration for millenia, due to it being comparatively soft and having little or no grain. Many craft stores have a range of blocks to choose from.
Balsa Balsa is great for those of you starting out on your whittling journey. It’s soft, has no grain, is inexpensive and is readily available from most craft stores.
Pine Although its soft and cuts relatively easily, pine does have several drawbacks. You cannot achieve fine detail and branches of freshly cut pine leave sap on your knife, which can be annoying.
Here are some golden rules to ensure you don’t have a nasty accident.
Take your time…..make whittling a relaxing hobby
Keep your knife sharp. You will find that a dull blade slips off the surface of the wood, which could have disastrous consequences.
Wear Kevlar gloves to begin with. They may feel cumbersome at first but you will soon get used to them
If you decide not to wear gloves, do use a thumb pad. A simple DIY way of forming a thumb pad is to use duct tape. Wrap your thumb with two layers with the sticky side facing outwards. Repeat with the third and fourth layers having their sticky side facing inwards.
There are five basic cut strokes…..the push cut, the sharp angle cut, the paring cut, the V cut and the curved cut.
These strokes are illustrated most clearly using a video….
Here are the timings so you can find the right place on the video as quickly as possible.
6.10 Push Cut
7.52 Stop Cut
8.47 Paring Cut
10.20 V Cut
Some people like to refer to books, so here is a small selection…..
All of these books are available through Amazon.
52 simple whittling projects from owls to tobacco pipes.
Covers a review of tools, shaping and safety.
24 easy projects with step by step instructions
Host of tips and ready to carve patterns.
Excellent selection of whittling knives
20 easy and fun whittling ideas and design patterns with step by step instructions and pictures.
Covers everything from the best knives to suitable timber, safety to sharpening.
Here are some whittling projects to inspire you…..
You may like to read some of my other posts…..you will find a summary on my Home Page