Whittling

Photo of a Paleolithic carving of a woman's head, the Venus_of_BrassempouyWhittling at the fireside of your campsite or sitting on the porch, methodically removing tiny bits of wood from a stick with a pocket knife.    

Nothing apparently useful going on here.  No work getting done.  No networking, e-mailing, web browsing, TV watching, or animated conversation.  

Just whittling on a stick with the slightest of movement, piling up a tiny pile of curled translucent whisps of what was once a tree.  

Perhaps making a notch or a point or a spiral groove, and then erasing it with the next pass of the blade.  

Watching the wood give way to sharpened steel, revealing the grain, the layered rings, the beauty that a tree unknowingly laid down during years in the sun. 

Maybe seeing a little figure emerge from inside the wood and carving around it to set it free.  Or making a wooden tool or a walking stick.  

Or just whittling, letting the fine wood shavings pile up.

Whittling looks very much like just sitting and thinking.  Not much difference really.

People used to spend more time engaged in whittling and undistracted thinking.  Cave people carved ivory figurines, sailors whittled scrimshaw tusks, country folk have always whittled.  

If you’ve never whittled or just haven’t done it in awhile, here are a few books on whittling that might kindle your interest.  

Whittling techniques can be enjoyable to learn and practice, even if you don’t plan to carve anything. There is satisfaction in mastering the use of different blades and pocket knife tools.  Have you ever tried whittling?

About AstroGremlin

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13 Responses to Whittling

  1. Mike says:

    Yep, this is so true, I’ve been whittling for 35+ years – sometimes a light pull taking a couple of hours sometimes a miniature nude taking 200 hours, it doesn’t matter.
    One thing always remains constant regardless is the meditative mindset – that’s why I do it, to reconnect with that primeval quiet inner place which is so very elusive in modern day life

  2. Rose (aka sousababy) says:

    Yes, I’ve whittled and ended up with one of the worst cuts in my life – but that was okay. Whittling is the cool-man’s knitting. Creating something with our hands helps to expand our thoughts and deepen our thought processes, imo. I’ve felt a sense of closure when I whittled something (except for that cut which required 5 stitches on my left thumb).

    My latest for your insightful and humorous commentary: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Craves Power (at all costs)

  3. Marcus Wilson says:

    That sounds great! I can’t wait to try whittling out, it seems like a fun way to just drift away from everyday’s problems. And then I get to keep the end result on my desk and remind of the great experience.

  4. Cley says:

    Whittling is like a sculpture.. Great job! Thanks for sharing.. Keep up the good work! :)
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  5. Michael Belk says:

    Hey Astro I got relaxed reading this article, it sure sounds relaxing. I thought we were too busy today for us to whittle.
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  6. Mirana says:

    I want to try this whittling.. I that an art of just plain thinking and whittling?
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  7. Lyka Ricks says:

    This is a Great Diversion and it’s interesting. Your artistic skills will be honed and the finish product is your masterpiece.

  8. Sheila says:

    Using this kind of tools is a great experience..I want to buy to experience this kind of whittling..
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  9. Chezzianne says:

    I want to try whittling and I think it is really exciting…I have never tried it before so for sure, it will be very interesting…Thanks for the idea!
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  10. Jennifer says:

    I have never tried whittling. I have seen the results, and it’s simply amazing. It’s almost like a form of meditation, with the end result being a piece of art.
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