Just plain ‘whittlin’ - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 12-01-2018, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Just plain ‘whittlin’

that’s fun for me,, usually with a stout knife,,, some years ago I picked up several ‘jack knives’ with unusual shape blades,,,sharpen them up real nice, and find a piece of pine, and I go at it....just making a pile of shavings while enjoying my pipe.....some time I might actually make something,,,,,, but mostly just ‘shavins’. Enjoy the smell of the fresh pine too.
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-01-2018, 11:50 PM
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Whittlin is especially a lot of fun sitting around a campfire with friends and loved ones, it is so relaxing. I like to whittle spirit faces and mountain men, also twisted stick walking sticks and hiking sticks.

I broke the blade out of my favorite knife a few years back and bought a different brand this time. My main knife now is a carbon steel German made Boker Tree Brand, love that knife. I have several other good knives that are razor sharp also.

What kinda knives do you have?

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post #3 of 22 Old 12-02-2018, 11:59 AM
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We would enjoy photos. That reminded me when I was about 6 years old, my older brother and I were spending the weekend at my grandparents house. My grandmother was out shopping and my grandfather wanted us out of the house so he gave us each a paring knife from the kitchen and told us to go whittle something. After trying unsuccessfully we both decided the knives must be dull and needed sharpening...and we commenced to rubbing the knives on the concrete porch to sharpen them. Well needless to say, we ruined 2 of my grandmothers paring knives...and my grandfather was the one that got yelled at. Looking back...it was a different time then.
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post #4 of 22 Old 12-04-2018, 03:14 PM
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I used to carve with mallets and regular gouges.
Then I shifted to the tools which are used in the Pacific Northwest native community.
They are far better for western red cedar and yellow cedar.
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-04-2018, 04:18 PM
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I used to carve with mallets and regular gouges.
Then I shifted to the tools which are used in the Pacific Northwest native community.
They are far better for western red cedar and yellow cedar.
Thats quite the setup!!! Nice! I've been looking to get into whittlin'...mind if I ask what brand of tools you are working with and how you like them?
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post #6 of 22 Old 12-04-2018, 06:04 PM
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If you want to do knife work, there's no better source that the top quality American bladesmiths.
Big names like Flexcut and Drake. One man shows like Old Stump (BrandantR).



Almost all of my european-style gouge carving tools are made by Pfeil (Switzerland).


The Pacific NW style tools are blades that I buy and make up my own handles for the adzes and many of the knives.
Lots of the knives are new or used farrier's hoof trimming knives.
The striped handles are 1/8" rosewood and mahogany that I had lots of. The adze handles are birch.


It's still tradition for young carvers to make their own tools from such material as truck leaf spring, etc.
I've got too many things to play with so I buy the blades.
I give the local farrier $5 each for his worn out knives ( new, that brand is $50 each.)
Mora 171 & 188, Diamond 271,(Taiwan) and Ukal Supervet (France) must be about $35+ by now.


Really good PacNW blades are made by Kestrel. You get what you pay for so don't blink at the prices.
Everybody needs to make their own handles to get the grip size correct (Kestrel Constant)
http://kestreltool.com/index.html
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post #7 of 22 Old 12-04-2018, 09:17 PM
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that’s fun for me,, usually with a stout knife,,, some years ago I picked up several ‘jack knives’ with unusual shape blades,,,sharpen them up real nice, and find a piece of pine, and I go at it....just making a pile of shavings while enjoying my pipe.....some time I might actually make something,,,,,, but mostly just ‘shavins’. Enjoy the smell of the fresh pine too.
When I lived in the country I bought feed from a man and his wife. The man would sit by the barn door while his wife loaded the feed and whittle. He let the cedar shaving fall between his feet and he would make a pile in the shape of a bale of hay except smaller. I don't know how he made the sides so straight and square.

PS- The woman was smart and worked as an RN. She could also throw #50 bags of feed around like a man.
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post #8 of 22 Old 12-05-2018, 12:54 PM
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If you want to do knife work, there's no better source that the top quality American bladesmiths.
Big names like Flexcut and Drake. One man shows like Old Stump (BrandantR).



Almost all of my european-style gouge carving tools are made by Pfeil (Switzerland).
Hmmm those recommendations seem to be on par from others as well. After some recent googling I landed on a pretty good resource in this best whittling knife guide but it left me wondering whether I wanted a pocket folder of a fixed blade set like the Flexcut you mentioned.

So many choices but I suppose I just need to decide if I want one to carry on me to whittle on the fly (leaning toward this) or something I have to go to fetch from the tool box. Have any experience with Boker pocket knives? They are listed in that guide and seem pretty nice?

I dont really have the bladesmith knowledge but I definitely like your idea of making up your own knifes from recycled blades! Curious, are you on bladeforums.com a lot of guys on there are into reshaping and recylcing blades and what not. Anyway, thanks again for your reply, it was definitely helpful and seemed to echo what others say of Flexcut and Pfeil for spoon carving.
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post #9 of 22 Old 12-05-2018, 01:06 PM
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I broke the blade out of my favorite knife a few years back and bought a different brand this time. My main knife now is a carbon steel German made Boker Tree Brand, love that knife. I have several other good knives that are razor sharp also.

What kinda knives do you have?
Hey Jim, I just realized you mentioned you have a Boker that you seem to love, any complaints at all? What other knives are you working with?
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post #10 of 22 Old 12-05-2018, 01:20 PM
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The tools you buy, make and use depend a lot on the style of wood carving that you want to do.
Wood Carving Illustrated magazine has a forum site 100% devoted to all styles of wood carving.
That place is worth looking over to see if there's a style that interests you more than others.



I wanted to explore the sizes and shapes of the crooked knives which are popular

in the First Nations wood carving community of the Pacific Northwest.
Lots of carvers just make a few changes to farrier's hoof-trimming knives for wood carving.


Mostly what you see in my pictures above are blades that I have made up into carving tools with all my own handles.
Blade forums usually INSIST on center hafting and very conventional, non-carving handles.
Those are all OK but not in the direction that I have gone.


I spent a day in the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology.
I went there to study the old knives and old carvings (kerf-bent box corners, etc).


Actually, I had a little box of PacNW crooked knife blades in my pocket that day!
I went outside and quickly carved some simple cedar handles to get the shapes and sizes right.
= = =

If you want to carve spoons with canoe-paddle scoops, look at the Mora (Sweden) #162, #163 ad #164 knife shapes.
Is there a wood carving club in your district? You can figure this out far, far faster with their help.
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post #11 of 22 Old 12-05-2018, 01:30 PM
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Hey Jim, I just realized you mentioned you have a Boker that you seem to love, any complaints at all? What other knives are you working with?
No complaints on the Boker. There are Boker knives out there that are pretty cheap, the reason being they are made in China. Be sure the Boker you buy is made in Solingen Germany. Also make sure it is good carbon steel not stainless, stainless just won't hold an edge like the good carbon steel will.

I have a lot of different brand knives, Case, Puma, Buck, Gerber, Old Timer, Schrade, Uncle Henry, Ward, American Blade, Swiss Army and others I can't think of right now. My carving knives are different brands also and several I have made myself.
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post #12 of 22 Old 12-05-2018, 04:43 PM
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Many Thanks Brian and Jim...all good info to consider!!! I'm leaning toward a Boker to start with to see where it takes me. I can always buy more specialized fixed blades in the future if a need arises.
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post #13 of 22 Old 12-08-2018, 12:04 AM
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Never got into that, I've tried to carve a few times but not much came of it. Wouldn't mind trying again though.


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post #14 of 22 Old 12-08-2018, 12:14 PM
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Maybe there's a style of wood carving that you would like to do. Flat-plane, caricature, relief., animals and so on.
Hindsight tells me that it takes carving quality wood and you learn the wood.
Good tools and 50% of the work is keeping them all "carving sharp."
Buy the tools or buy blades and make them up as I do.


Find out if there's a carving club in your area.

Take lessons just for something fun and very different to do this winter.

There's no faster way to get past the basics.
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post #15 of 22 Old 12-08-2018, 01:29 PM
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Make sure your tools are scary sharp, you might get discouraged if trying to carve with not so sharp tools or hard wood.
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post #16 of 22 Old 12-08-2018, 02:19 PM
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Look at the row of knives in my third picture.
Those are all farrier's hoof-trimming knives, most of them in their original handles
except for the long-handled left/right pair in the middle. Bash off the factory wood and make your own.



On the right are two new Hall brand knives, $50 each.

Next to them are 2 skinny worn down Hall knives that I buy from the local farrier for $5 each.
Not much money to get started.

Use a Dremel with cut-off wheels to shape the hook tip any way you want.

Very hard steel which holds a wonderful edge for carving in soft woods (cedars).
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post #17 of 22 Old 12-11-2018, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Well, this thread has certainly gone in a different direction. I just enjoy finding a piece of soft pine, using a jack knife which I keep razor sharp, and try to make my shavings match,,,Yes, the knife guide is very informative,,, but it sets a lot of’rules’ which I don’t really need.

I t is relaxation for me, whittling’ and smokin’ my pipe....If I have to follow a bunch of ‘rules’ it will kill it for me.....So thanks for all the info, now I am going to go have fun.
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post #18 of 22 Old 12-11-2018, 08:02 PM
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Well, this thread has certainly gone in a different direction. I just enjoy finding a piece of soft pine, using a jack knife which I keep razor sharp, and try to make my shavings match,,,Yes, the knife guide is very informative,,, but it sets a lot of’rules’ which I don’t really need.

I t is relaxation for me, whittling’ and smokin’ my pipe....If I have to follow a bunch of ‘rules’ it will kill it for me.....So thanks for all the info, now I am going to go have fun.
Back home years back I would go down to the old country store and several old timers would be sitting around just making shavings. Never gave it much thought back then it just seemed natural to see a bunch of fellows whittlin up a storm.

I am one of those old timers now and see how relaxing and how much fun it is to just sit and let the shavings fly. Every once in a while see how small and long I can make a shaving. I even like to make a very small shaving on the edge of a piece of paper.

What is your favorite knife Tex?

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post #19 of 22 Old 12-12-2018, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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At last, someone showed up that understands what I am talking about,,Thank you BigJim,,, I like to do those kind of things ‘just whittlin’, don’t need a bunch of rules,,, just make shavings. I have several jackknifes,,,,different blade shapes, I don’t know the names of them,, just like the looks of them and the feel..they were made in Pakistan and I got them over 20 years ago,,they are nice and heavy, and so easy to keep sharp.
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post #20 of 22 Old 12-13-2018, 12:40 PM
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I don't see any rules in wood carving at all. Cramps creativity.

Over the last thousand years, many different styles have come and gone.
Here are my best French tools.
I like the top one the most.
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