Complete Starter Guide To Whittling

This makes for an easier whittling experience and preferred by many woodworkers. Most wood from stores is already dried, and can be harder to work with. You will want to use a high carbon steel blade or a knife with a Rockwell Hardness between 58 and 62. Knives in this range have a perfect balance of edge sharpness retention without being too brittle.

Next, holding one arm out with your knife closed or no knife at all slowly rotate in a circle. If you hit something, move out of reach and spin again, repeat as necessary before you start to whittle. This is called your blood circle or, if you’d rather, your safety zone. A thumb guard – safety is paramount whenever blades are involved. An inexpensive thumb guard could save you some possible cuts – it’s not if, it’s when. Looking to make spoons, bowls, cups, and other items with indents?

However, you may feel more comfortable starting out with something protecting your digits.This is the safety gear every DIYer needs. The easiest way to start whittling wood is to find a stick or piece of wood and start slicing away. If you want to start with pre-cut wood, buy blocks and stick to softwoods. Other good wood types include pine and cedar.Wood blocks can be helpful in sanding your work as well. And as your whittling projects get more ambitious, you may want to add the shorter (2.4 inch blade) Mora 120 to your tool kit.

There are a ton of specialist whittling knife options out there and many whittlers have multiple knives for different jobs. Here are some of the best whittling knives out there, that are also ideal for beginner whittlers. After you’ve mastered the egg, you can move on to some simple patterns.Cowboy boots are a popular whittling project as well as animals. All you have to do is simply transfer the pattern to your wood and start whittling. After a few strokes on the sharpening stone and strop, I started carving again. If you’re a new whittler, we highly recommend that you wear a pair of gloves when you start out.

whittling guide

Others – like balsa – are just too soft and won’t allow you to make fine details without deforming the block itself. One of the things I like about this knife is how sturdy it feels, even when applying a lot of pressure. I have no worries when carving away at larger pieces of wood and feel like I can put some force behind the blade as needed.

Although the handle feels great in your hand, you’ve got to double-check that the blade is facing away from your thumb every time you pick it up. The rust-prone blade is a minor annoyance that can be solved with a regular coat of oil or beeswax, but these materials can be hard to find in the field. A sharp blade is vital, so consider picking up one of these knives for when you’re learning how to whittle. “It’s just like peeling a very woody potato”​The trick here is to squeeze your fingers on the knife hand, slowly and with the right amount of tension.

What Exactly Is Whittling?

It even became known as “soldier art” and was particularly popular among American soldiers. Europeans noted that the American habit of whittling was practiced throughout the ranks from the commanding officers down to the enlisted men. Civil War soldiers whittled a great deal, and many examples of their handiwork remain in museums throughout the country. The second version of the v-cut is sometimes called a gouge cut, but all you are doing is making a small v shaped trench along the side of the wood. It is very similar to chip carving and relies on the same principles.

The Whittling Knife

I know you’ve been drawing for hours now, so I wouldn’t want you to forget! Hold the wood in your hand with a little more grip than when you were removing the bark, with the other hand hold your knife with the blade facing away from you. Press more gently into the wood and hold the knife at an angle so that you can achieve thinner shavings.

It is a very solid and durable wood, that still remains quite comfortable to the hand. Any time you step outdoors, free whittling materials are all around you. Once you’re done with the bowl, use push-strokes to finish the handle. Trust your instincts and use different whittling strokes until you’re satisfied with the shape. A bird sitting on a branch is a classic whittling project. It’s one of those low-effort, big effect projects—it really looks great in the end.

If you find your scavenged wood is too hard to work with, click here to see how to make it softer and easier to whittle. Because your knife is the most important tool in your whittling toolkit, it pays off to invest in a quality blade. A low-quality knife will make it harder to produce clean cuts and carvings as the blade edge dulls faster. As long as it isn’t a hunk of something poisonous or pokey, just about any piece of wood can theoretically be whittled. Remember that you’re looking for something easy to work with, with a straight grain and as few knots as possible.

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