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9 Tips for Whittling and Pocket Knife Safety

My First Pocket Knife

My first pocket knife was from my great grandfather. He gave it to me as a Christmas gift. It was a multi-purpose knife. I had to do a little pocket knife training with my dad before I could use it to prove that I was mature enough to not hurt anyone, including myself.

Finnian's first pocket knife was a Christmas gift from his great grandfather.
Finnian’s first pocket knife was a Christmas gift from his great grandfather, Papaw Louie.

Learning to Whittle

I learned to whittle from Cub Scouts. My dad taught me and let me use his jack knife. My first project was to carve a bar of soap into a fish. The first step is to let the bar of soap sit out all day so that it can soften up a little bit from the moisture in the air. The second step is to put a drop cloth on floor to protect it from the shavings. The third step is to use a stick to make an outline on the soap. And then, the final step is to carve it. On my first try, I started to make a fish, but it didn’t work out so I decided to make a bear.

Bear Carved out of Soap
Finnian’s First Whittling Project: A Bear Carved Out of Soap

9 Tips for Whittling and Pocket Knife Safety

  1. I recommend a jack knife. It has one big blade that locks so you have to push down a button to close it. It keeps the blade immovable so that when you are guiding the knife you don’t have to be afraid of chopping off your fingers.
  2. I find it easier to use your thumb to guide the knife. Push your thumb down on the back of the knife so you can put more force into some strokes and less into others. You are shaving the wood, not cutting it.
  3. Keep your knife closed when you are not using it.
  4. Always keep it in its case if you have a case.
  5. Never cut toward you because one slip could stab you.
  6. Don’t whittle near other people.
  7. Take your arms out and spin in a circle. If your arms touch anyone, then you need to move. This is called a “Safety Circle.”
  8. Always sit down.
  9. Stay in one spot when working unless you close your knife, then you can move.

Every Boy Should Whittle

If you cut wood with one stroke, it counts as whittling. Out of a stick, I made a spear which I used as a fork on a Cub Scout camping trip. My friend made a wooden knife, but I don’t recommend it because it is really hard to make. If you want to make a spear, then you need a stick about as thick as a pencil. Scrape off the bark and then you can carve the wood into a point.

Whittling is a good way to pass the time on a camping trip. Every boy should know how to whittle and know about pocket knife safety.

This is a fish carved out of a bar of soap my dad did - he is really good at whittling!
This is a fish carved out of a bar of soap my dad did – he has had more practice and he is really good at whittling!

10 Tips for Your First Cub Scout Camping Trip