Whether you’re looking at starting a new Etsy venture, hoping to make some unique gifts for loved ones or simply looking for a new hobby to help you to unwind of an evening, whittling can be an excellent craft to take part in. As with any artistic craft it can be hard to know how to get started, obviously you won’t be chipping away at Michelangelo’s ‘David’ on your first attempt (unless you really are that gifted in the art) but it is easy enough to get started. The materials are relatively inexpensive and you’ll no doubt find it therapeutic and meditative too so let’s have a look at how you can take your first steps towards becoming a master whittler.
What You’ll Need
Wood – To start out with, you’re best to have a go at carving into softwoods, you can move onto harder woods once you’ve got to grips with the art but for now the best way to learn is by using a wood that is nice and easy to cut into. No matter the hardness of your wood you’ll want to be looking at something with a nice straight grain, it’s much more difficult if you have a piece with varying grains in it. Also try to avoid picking up wood with knots in it as these can be a real struggle to work with and even cause accidents. Good woods to start out with are Balsa, Pine and Basswood, these are all soft woods with easy to handle grains and each have their advantages and disadvantages. Balsa is a great pick for the beginner as it’s also very inexpensive and available from most craft stores, that way if you don’t get on with it you won’t have to worry too much about how much you’ve spent to start out with. If you really don’t wish to be break the bank though and are just looking to pass the time why not just have a go with and broken twigs or branches that you find lying around.
Knife – There are two kinds of knife to look at when whittling, the pocketknife and the speciality whittling knife. On first glance the latter would seem like the only one with talking about, but whittlers have used the pocketknife to craft wonderful little sculptures for generations. In fact, there are whittling purists out there (yes that’s apparently a thing) that believe that the pocketknife is the only knife that should be used in the art. The benefits of the pocket knife are pretty good too, first of all it’s portable, you can simply carry it around with you in the great outdoors and when you find your wood or just fancy a bit of whittling with a block you already have you can simply whip it out and get to work. It also has the bonus of multiple blade sizes which means you can use the larger blades to make bigger cuts and unfold the smaller blades when you’re looking to create the more intricate details.