How to whittle (or carve).
I wrote this when I was, like, 15.
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I can’t tell you how to whittle because everyone does it in different ways depending on the
result they want to get, but I can suggest a few tips I can give you to start you off.
- Know what you want. Have a clear-ish idea of the finished product in your mind
before you work, or at least early in the whittling stage.
- Make small cuts. It’s important that you don’t go crazy with deep cuts. You might
take off more than you wanted. This is especially important if you want to even up
- Go slowly. If you work too fast you could make a cut too deep, or cut yourself
- Use a very sharp knife. It might sound strange, but a dull knife is what will cut
you. A dull knife needs to have more force behind it to cut, and if you slip it will bite
into your hand.
- Relax your grip. Gripping your wood or your knife too tightly does give you a
better grip, but it also tires your hands out much quicker. If your hand starts to hurt you
should take a break, because it can escalate into a stress injury if you persist.
- Settle for second-best. Sometimes you’ll be trying to make one side of the work
an equal length to the other. Once you get to a length that’s close enough, stop. If you
want to make it perfect and keep cutting, chances are the new cut will make you
think you should’ve left it alone.
And here are some whittling techniques you’ll find handy.
This is the one you’ll use most, of course. Just cut a little chunk of wood away to rough out a design.
This is like the cut, but involves using the knife as a kind of plane to take small shavings away. This is used after you’ve roughed out the work and are working it to the desired shape.
Make a deep cut along the wood with the point of your knife, then make another one parallel to it, so that it slants into the first cut. This should take off a sliver of wood and leave a channel.
Hold the knife perpendicular to the wood and drag the edge (the unsharpened back of the blade if possible) over the wood. This will smooth and polish it.
A good project for a beginner is a ball. Just grab a bit of wood and whittle the end into a dome before forming the other half of the ball.