There are plenty of different styles of cutting used by whittlers, to start you off though we’re simply going to cover the basics. We’re going to take a look at three simple styles to get you going with a first simple project.
The Straightaway Rough Cut – To start out with you’ll want to begin with what’s called straightaway rough cutting. This is how you will begin to carve out your woods general shape to start with. It’s a simple technique, simply hold the block or piece of wood firmly with your offhand and grip the knife securely in your main hand. Now, make long and sweeping cuts with the grain of the wood but make sure not to cut too deep, shallow shavings will do. Deeper cuts can be damaging and may cause the wood to split. Do this until you’ve whittled your wood to the desired size and shape.
The Pull Cut – It’s around here that your protective hand gear will likely come in very handily (pun intended). Chance are that if you’ve ever seen an old seasoned pro whittling away by their campfire or on their porch you’ve seen then using this technique. This time you want to hold the knife in your main hand facing towards you, press your thumb against the wood and squeeze your fingers, drawing the knife towards you. Your strokes should be short and well controlled and make sure that you keep your thumb out of the blades path to avoid injury. Imagine peeling an apple and that is essentially what this cut is, it gives you plenty of control over you’re your knife and is good for precise cuts.
The Push Stroke – The push stroke is another cut designed to allow you to make more detailed cuts to your project and is used for when you simply cannot apply the pull cut. It’s not as simple to perform however nor is it over complicated. To perform the push stroke, you’ll want to turn the knife so it’s once again facing away from you. This time though when you cut into the wood, you’ll want to place both thumbs onto the back of the knife, with the thumb on your offhand apply pressure to the blade whilst guiding the direction of your cut using your main hand.
Where to Start?
Now that you have your tools, your safety gear and a basic knowledge of the craft you’ll likely be wondering where you should start. What will be your first project? Well according to experts one of the best things you can make in order to get to grips with the craft is an egg. Now, I know that may not sound thrilling but think about it. It’s a simple shape that you can make using a block of wood that will get you used to shaping the wood in different sizes at each and help you get to grips with wood grains. Once you’ve mastered the egg you can move on to other simple designs that may be more entertaining like animals or cowboy boots but for now give the egg a go and see how much you enjoy the art of whittling.