What is Whittling?

Whittling is the art and style of woodcarving performed using a carving knife. Opposed to relief carving and other techniques whittling typically produces a sculpture oppose to adding detail to a piece (such as furniture). A trademark of whittling is that the knife strokes are clearly visible on the final piece giving it a rugged natural feel. Below are some examples of pieces created through whittling.

What Type of Wood Should I Use?

Simply put.. that depends!

Woods can be separated into two categories, softwoods and hardwoods. Both can be carved or whittled but starting out you are going to want to stick with a soft wood and probably something with a finer grain. The following are the most popular choices:

Basswood: Soft and easy to carve with a fine grain. The wood has a creamy tint and is an excellent choice for beginners as it can be found at most local craft shops for a reasonable price.

BalsaBalsa: Another soft wood with a fine grain. Balsa is often used in the creation of model airplanes so like Basswood can likely be found at your local craft / hobby shop.

basswoodPine: Pine is very soft but has a bit of a coarser grain than the previously mentioned 2. You can get pine that is very white or slightly yellow and is another great choice. Some would say the pine is slightly less distinctive than the Basswood or Balsa.

butternutButternut: The most difficult of the “beginner” whittling woods but will also give you the most distinctive piece of the 4 Butternut will have a courser grain which will make it a bit more difficult to avoid chipping during the whittling process but it’s soft and easy enough to carve through that it still is a viable beginner piece. You will likely need to go to a lumber yard to get Butternut.

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