How to Whittle

By Contributor
Whittle

How to Whittle. Whittling is wood carving of a sort - dedicated whittlers make all kinds of creations, and some of them have become quite valuable. But whittling, like traveling, is more about the journey than about the destination.

Choose a piece of wood. It should be big enough to whittle down, yet small enough to hold comfortably.

Choose a knife. It should be sharp and a comfortable size to hold in your hand.

Look at the wood and decide what you want to whittle - making sure to take into consideration what the wood wants. (Many whittlers believe that a piece of wood will speak to you - that the piece already exists, imprisoned deep within the wood - and that the whittler's job is to let it out.)

Hold the knife in your right hand and the wood in your left (if you're left-handed, reverse this).

Clear your mind. Whittling is a meditative process, good for quiet contemplation.

Begin gradually shaving away the wood.

Quit when you're done - or when you want to take a break. The great thing about whittling is that the wood will wait for you.

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Tip

If you're a beginner, start with a stick. Shave a point so that you can use it as a skewer for toasting marshmallows or hot dogs over a campfire. See if you can peel the bark off the whole stick (like peeling a carrot). Now that you've gotten the feel of it, you can choose a more challenging project.

Warning

Always cut away from your hand and fingers. This means that the entire hand, including the first finger (it's so tempting to extend this finger as a stabilizer - please don't) should be behind the blade of the knife as you whittle. If you have kids around, put your knife someplace out of reach.