Wood whittling is a term used to describe a type of wood carving. Whittling is simpler than carving because it usually involves a handheld piece of wood and a simple metal knife. There are additional tools, but the rudimentary knife tool is what creates the folk art-look of whittled wood. The decorative possibilities are endless with this type of woodwork. Household utensils are also common projects.
Some of the simplest to some of the most intricate wood whittling projects are figurines. You can carve people, animals, buildings, plants or just about anything from a small block of wood. “The Bird Whittler” reminds beginners not to be too ambitious when starting a statue. Aim for a simple shape and get the feel of your blade on the wood before trying to accomplish detailed work.
A wooden spoon is a utilitarian tool that is found in almost every house, ancient or modern. This simple utensil can be whittled by the most untrained of hands. Practicing this project teaches how to carve a bowl-like curved surface in the wood. Once you get the shape down, practice putting slats in the spoon. Serving forks and knives are other common wooden utensils. If you have a large block of wood, whittle it into a bowl and create a matching kitchen set.
While large chain links are a typical beginner’s project, detailed wooden chains are works of skilled craftsmen. There is little practical application for a wooden chain but it serves as a skill builder and work of art. Whittling link after link is a test of consistency. They are made from long pieces of wood and require a lot of patience. Artisans will often combine the chain technique with others such as the ball in cage or ball in chain to create intricate pieces like the works of 20th century artist, Adolph Vandertie.
The ball-in-cage is as it sounds, a lose ball trapped inside a cage of four or more wooden bars. The technique of learning to whittle this classic trick toy is a common step in the skill-building process. Whittling a ball-in-cage involves some simple measuring, planning and marking. It involves carving a round surface and introduces the idea of creating a separate piece inside an outer cage. Once this is mastered, the technique can be used to whittle even more creative pieces.