Back in the pioneering days, a boy’s pastime and hobby was much simpler than it is today (a whole lot healthier, too). They ran through meadows, swam in rivers, caught raccoons and small birds, and learned how to survive in (and enjoy) the wild outdoors. However, if there is one pastime that most (if not all) pioneer boys indulged in, that would be whittling, or the hobby of turning a lifeless tree branch into a marvelous (albeit crude) "work of art."
Although the art and science of whittling has seem to go down in popularity through the years, some of today’s scouting programs still teach young scouts this art and craft, and so don’t be surprised when one day your young un’ barges through the door and says, "Somebody gimme a knife! Dad, can you buy me a knife?"
Buying Your Kid a Whittling Knife
Buying a whittling knife sounds a simple enough thing to do – after all, there is only one knife that all young boys are allowed to handle – the good ol’ pocket knife. If it worked for children back then, it should work fine for children of today.
Wish it were that easy.
Contrary to popular belief that a pocket knife should do all the trick, a whittler actually needs several knives to get the job done. No, we don’t recommend that you get your kid all kinds of whittling knives (there are perhaps 20 or more of those), but it does help to have some factual knowledge about which whittling knives does what – fun facts which your kid can share around the campfire and be everybody’s whittling “go to guy.”
Kinds of Whittling Knives
As mentioned earlier, there are about 20 or so different kinds of whittling knives, but since you don’t need to get them all, we’ll just list here the must haves, namely:
- Pen Blade. A thin, small knife which works great at doing the small work and smoothing the wood’s surface.
- B Clip. Whittling knives with rounded or curved blade with a long pointed tip, which is great for getting into places where the pen knife can’t.
- Sheepsfoot. This is somewhat a modification of the pen blade with the tip cut-off, resulting in a very sharp point. This blade is used for finishing corners, chip carving and point work.
- Spey. This has a convex curved blade and used for cutting round bottomed grooves.
A true blue whittler will have more than these and several variations of it, too (there’s an A Clip, B Clip, Long, Clip, Turkish Clip, etc.) but for a young child just learning, these should be enough to help them get their whittling badge.
One more thing, if you’re buying your child a whittling knife, get them a sharp one, probably made from carbon steel and not stainless. It may sound dangerous for a child to be handling a sharp blade, but if they are old enough to do whittling in camp, then perhaps they are old enough to be entrusted with sharp knives. See, a dull knife requires more pressure to use, and exerting too much force can cause cuts and wounds on your kid’s fingers. And while you’re at it, why don’t you get yourself your own custom pocket knives and try a little whittling yourself, too? Who knows, you may suddenly find that young pioneering spirit that’s been hiding there all along.
Come find out more and see some handmade whittling knives at: JustCustomKnives.com.