The age-old craft of carving wood, or whittling, may seem daunting, but it requires only a few tools and a bit of patience to start carving your own useful items and decorations. Whistles are one of the easiest items to start with. Figures and flowers can be achieved with more time.
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To begin whittling, purchase a small, sharp knife that fits comfortably in your hand. It should be about the shape of a paring knife and need not be expensive. Specific whittling tools can also be used if you wish, but they are not necessary for beginning projects. Choose a wood appropriate to your project. Soft wood is best for items requiring less detail, as a sharp knife easily slices through the wood and could ruin detailed work. Hardwoods are more difficult to cut but show detail better. Collect your wood from anywhere you see fit, out on a hike or bought at a store or online.
Whistles are composed of a hollowed cylinder shape, and a notch removed from the upper half to allow airflow, creating a pleasing sound. A willow branch makes for an easy whistle project. For complete instructions on a willow whistle project, see resources.
A man or woman figure can have as little or as much detail as you would like to add, according to your skill level. It's best to start with a small figure from a piece of wood no larger than a few inches tall. A marking tool is required for symmetry, and an afternoon, or a short time over a few days should be all you need to design your own piece of art. See resources for full instructions on making a "little man."
Flower petals can be achieved with the carvings of a softwood, such as elder wood. A small knife is used repeatedly to pull thin strips of wood off toward the bottom the branch until the dozens of "petals" surround the remaining centre of the wood, representing the stem. The wood can by dyed any colour. Red and pink will make for beautiful flowers that last much longer than any florist's stock. A full project is available in resources.
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