Sunday, April 22, 2012

Whittling = KNIVES!

When it comes to whittling, you will need a knife.
After my first experience making something out of wood, I began to beg for a real knife, and when I turned ten, this is the knife I was given. It is a fine all-purpose knife but not such a great whittling knife. Unlike knives today, it holds a good sharp edge and is a handy tool.  That I have kept it over 65 years, shows the importance it had in my life.

One does not think of little girls and knives going together but my other passion was dolls. My dolls were my best friends but the ones they sold in the stores were made of china, (cold and breakable) or celluloid (not as strong as today's plastics) With a knife and some wood,you can have a doll the size and look you want.
 If you think it through, you can even get the parts to move ... an improvement over those rigid models found in the five and dime.
Unless you are left-handed, you may not have noticed that almost all knives are designed to be used by right-handers. Chopping vegetables with a kitchen knife is even a challenge  if you want nice even slices.

These two lock-blade knives are made by Gerber-Sakai. I have heard that Sakai was a sword-maker. I don't know the connection with Gerber but this is an excellent knife and I was able to buy a left-handed model. (the lower one with the dark blade) These knives hold a good keen edge.

I had never used anything but a commercial knife until I went to my first BSA Jamboree. There I first met "Whittling Jim" Hill at the Boy's Life whittling display.

I was not a stranger to Boy's Life or to Whittling Jim. When I was small, I joined Brownies and then Girl Scouts, but, my twin brother was a Cub and then Boy Scout and my Dad, a leader.They met in our basement and I sat on the top step and ate my heart out. Every month, into our post box came a copy of "American Girl" and "Boy's Life". My goal was to beat my brother to the post and check out the "Slide of the Month".
First, Ben Hunt, and then Jim Hill, were my heroes. I was always keen to try out the latest design. That collection has been lost over the years. Some I have done again but there are many more I remember having made when I see them in collections.

For two National Jamborees, I had other staff jobs and spent any free time I could grab in the whittler's tent. I was able to find a nice set of Japanese gouges for Jim and the above three knives were made by him, just for me, using German straight razors. The lower one is my favorite but the small horn handle fits so comfortably into my hand and all three keep such a nice sharp edge.

The past three Jamborees, I have been lucky enough to be admitted into this elite group of whittlers, as their token woman. What a wonderful place that is and what an inspiring group of people!

 These days, many knife companies are going to China for tools but to my thinking, Japan still makes some of the best cutting tools. Above is a set of hand-made tools, Each tool is made from one piece and the reed is woven to make a comfortable grip.

Even a commercial set of gouges for making block prints is quite good quality and not too expensive.

The last set of knives is what I use most. This craft knife is made by "Olfa". The blades can be reversed so that you have two blades in the same handle, but actually, they hold an edge so well, there is not much need to change them around. One set comes with two spare blades and the blades can be purchased separately. There are two styles of blades. The black handle has a pointed blade and the blue has a rounded tip. (I prefer the rounded tip for teaching beginners).

I use this craft knife to teach the "whittling chip" to Cub Scouts and the Woodcarving Merit Badge to Scouts. Besides having replaceable blades, this blade is friendly to either right or left handers. The round yellow knife is a small blade for details. It breaks  from time to time but comes with many spare blades. The silver craft knife is also made by Olfa but I would not recommend it for kids. These blades are easy to keep sharp. At the end of the day of use, I polish them up on a leather strop as I put them back in the box. They are always ready for use.

So ... what is your favorite knife?  What is your criteria for selecting a tool?

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, I've seen you use all these at one point or another in my life, but I've never seen em all laid out and explained that way. Keep em coming Mom, I'm looking forward to seeing some of your work :-)