When you think of whittling, you might imagine an old man on a front porch in a rocking chair with wood shavings scattered at his feet, but whittling is a hobby that spans generations, genders, and skill levels. With relaxing motions and meditative effects, every day new people are discovering just what is so addictive about putting a blade to a block of wood. Whether you’re an avid carver or just curious about wood working, here are some whittling techniques and tips to keep in mind.
Paring Cut - Also called the pull stroke or thumb cut, the paring cut looks similar to peeling a potato. This cut is the most used cut when whittling.
Levering Cut - Also called the push stroke or push-away cut, the levering cut is useful for those awkward positions that don’t allow for a paring cut.
V-Cut - This cut is great for adding detail to your wood, often used when creating the look of fur or hair. The V-Cut is also useful when cutting distinct lines to distinguish features.
-If you are having trouble achieving good detail because your wood is either too hard or too soft, try applying a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water.
-Consider wearing carving gloves to prevent injury and avoid getting blood on your creation. If you refuse to wear carving gloves, think about wearing a thumb pad. If you don’t want to wear a thumb pad, at least protect your thumb under some layers of duct tape.
-Don’t rush. Make controlled cuts and remove wood in thin layers or risk tearing the wood and leaving ugly marks behind.
-If you want to keep your hands free when whittling, use a device like a clamp or vice to affix the wood to a solid surface.
-Sharpen your knife regularly. If you notice that it is becoming more and more of a challenge to make your cuts, the problem is most likely that your blade needs to be honed.
-If you get a sliver, they can often be removed simply by placing a piece of duct tape over the area and gently pulling it off.
Don’t expect to pick this skill up overnight. Wood carving requires a lot of practice and patience. Good carving comes from experience and persistence, so don’t get discouraged if whittling doesn't come to you as easily as you’d hoped. Continue working on your skills and before you know it, you too will be disappointed when it's time to put down your knife and walk away from the wood.