Whittling 101: An Introduction to Whittling Wood

Whittling 101: An Introduction to Whittling Wood

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March 09, 2021 | 4 min read

What Is Whittling? An Introduction to Whittling Wood

Whittling is a handcraft that takes time, patience, and precision. That said, the craft is also one that anyone can start - even without any prior woodworking experience or elaborate equipment. Whittling is a versatile craft that is also a fairly inexpensive hobby for those who want to get started. For those wondering what whittling is, this article provides a primer on the craft, how to get started, and what tools are required.

What is Whittling?

Whittling is the art of carving a piece of wood, usually into a craft or object. It is done slowly and calculatingly by removing small slivers of wood with a knife. According to WoodBeeCarver, a whittling blog, whittling was born in the United States around the Civil War era. The war brought many men from different parts of the United States together. When not fighting, these men found themselves sitting around a fire, carving wood in their downtime.

Common items whittled by the soldiers included pipes, canes, spoons, crafts, and more. Now, popular whittled items also include toys and camping tools. It goes without saying that whittling is an interesting pastime. After all, it's still around after over 150 years!

Tools and Supplies Required for Whittling

Whittling is a very low-cost hobby that can yield impressive results, sometimes worth more than the tools and supplies themselves. The best part about whittling is that you'll only need a few things to get started: the wood, a knife, and cut-resistant gloves.

You can also take advantage of a handbook dedicated to the craft to learn new techniques and find instructions and inspiration for your whittling projects. With so few items required, you can create something priceless for a very small investment. Here's what you'll need to start whittling.

1. Wood

There's no limit to the types of wood that you can use for whittling. From branches and twigs found along your hiking trail or around your campsite to planks and 2x4's, wood for whittling can come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, beginners can start with twigs, branches, and other wood found in the great outdoors. According to FamilyHandyMan.com, the best type of wood for whittling is basswood, which is also suitable for sanding. However, when you're just starting, almost any wood found outside is suitable.

3. A Swiss Army Knife

Knives come in all shapes and sizes, and using a sharp, dependable one is necessary and directly impacts your carving experience. While many knives will get the trick done, using the right knife or knives directly improves your experience, as do other carving tools in your itinerary.

Swiss Army Knives are exceptional, particularly when it comes to whittling. We are often asked which Swiss Army Knife is best for whittling. While many would do the trick, Victorinox's Fieldmaster Swiss Army Knife is an ideal multi-tool for whittling, as well as accomplishing other minor tasks when camping and hiking.

The Fieldmaster includes two blades, one large, the other small, and a small wood saw - making it perfect for trimming, carving, and sculpting wood. Additional tools that come with this Swiss Army Knife include a bottle opener, tweezers, a pair of scissors, and more.

We offer full catalog of camping and hiking Swiss Army Knives suitable for whittling. In general, those two blade sizes and a wood saw make the best tools for the job. Another thing to consider is the overall thickness of the Swiss Army Knife. It's important to find one that's not too thick to hold comfortably in your hand while you work.

3. Cut-Resistant Gloves

Using gloves for whittling is an excellent safety precaution. Safety comes first and foremost, regardless of what you're doing, but especially when using a knife. A pair of cut-resistant gloves are perfect for whittling, as they protect the crafter's hands from the knife. Whittlers can use one glove at a time, specifically on the hand holding the wood. Still, it's always a good idea to be safe when using a knife, so wearing two gloves is advisable as well. Additionally, you can seek a thumb guard, which provides more control when carving.

4. Whittling Guide

Of course, if you're as serious about the art of whittling as we are, you'll find great use in Chris Lubkemann's Swiss Army Knife Whittling Book. As a world-renowned whittler, author Lubkemann claims that all you need to start carving is a Swiss Army Knife and a small piece of wood. The book features plenty of step-by-step craft guides that make beginning whittlers excited to start creating some exceptional work and guide them to becoming experienced whittlers.

Another popular option is Felix Immler's Whittling in the Wild. Immler, a Swiss naturalist and pocket knife skills instructor, starts his book with illustrated basic whittling techniques, and continues on to present many projects from toys to household items.

Whichever tools you choose to get started, you'll find whittling is a fun, cost-effective, lightweight, portable craft you can enjoy at home or in the wild.

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