Whittling: Whittling vs. Wood Carving
Whittling is the most basic form of wood carving but it is not actually the art of wood carving, as it is done today. If you have no care to rush, you want to take your time and see what happens, whittling could be for you. But if you'd like to see just how skilled you can be, how good you are at bringing out details, wood carving may be just what you're looking for.
Whittling is the removal of pare shavings or the cutting of small bits from a piece of wood. It is the most basic form of wood carving but it is not actually the art of wood carving, as it is done today. Wood carving requires a number of tools, even power tools at that. So it could get complicated pretty fast. But this is not how it is when one whittles. All you need to whittle are two things: a piece of wood and a knife.
True whittling has always been very simple. Details in the wood aren't very refined but rather pretty coarse. When you are holding a whittled object in your hand, you know it. You can plainly see each knife stroke. Using sand paper isn't an option. This is the exact opposite of wood carving, which typically excels in details. When you're holding a wood carving of the same object, you usually won't see even one knife stroke. It's very interesting. Whittling a little girl could take a week when all you're using is a knife. Wood carving the same little girl requires more tools but it takes just a fraction of the time. She'll also have many details that couldn't be produced with just a knife.
Whittling requires no special tools, no special circumstance or any specific type of working environment. Just you, a piece of wood and your knife are all it takes. You can whittle anywhere inside or outside your home, in a car, at a picnic, in a parknearly anywhere. This is not so with detailed wood carving.
There are quite a number of special tools that you'll likely be using when you wood carve. There are detail knives and carving knives, wood rasps and wood files, wood gouges and wood chisels. And these aren't all of them. (Ever heard of a sanding stick?) There's a very good chance that you'll probably have a handful of power tools as part of your wood carving tool kit. Then you'll also need to concern yourself with how to supply electric power. It isn't so simple.
You really do need a designated work area when you're wood carving. You usually aren't even holding the wood you're working on. Many times it'd be a vise doing that for you so you'll need a good work bench or platform. And with all those valuable tools around, you don't want anyone fiddling with them. Besides the possibility of losing them, many of them are dangerously sharp and no one should touch them but you. And what about that special creation that you've been working on for so long? You surely don't want any spectators scoping it out when you're not around. Who knows what'll happen? (Hey, where'd the nose go?)
The act of whittling is considered to be a contemplative, meditative process. It isn't so much what you're whittling but the process itself. Wood carving, on the other hand, is more of an end result process. You strive to create what you see in your mind with all the details that come with it. You've a product to produce and so you may not care to spare any time.
It comes down to a matter of taste and how you feel. If you have no care to rush, you want to take your time and see what happens, whittling is for you. If you'd like to see just how skilled you can be, how good you are at bringing out details, wood carving may be just what you're looking for. Hey, try them both. You might surprise yourself.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Q. is a master blade sharpener and an adventurer who strives to protect the natural world. If you would like to learn about ª Knife Sharpening: How to Sharpen Knives, Maintain and Store Them ª Sharpening Other Edges (e.g. Chain Saws, Gardening Tools, Axes) ª Or maybe you could use a Free Guide on Sharpening Lawn Mower Blades Find it here at http://www.MakeKnivesSharp.com .