Whittling


Jan 23, 2015
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Choa chu kang
#1
Hi Clubsnappers.
Leo here.
Past 2 days had my attention on whittling(chipping away at wood with a simple knife.
NOT CARVING). Never done that before, so would like some advice from the more experienced.
Done a bit of woodwork back in secondary school. But its done with power tools(mostly Jelutong
and Meranti wood).
Hopefully one day can use it as a side hobby combined with photography.

Only basic preliminary research has been done. So i think i'll probably need these:
[1]Pocket Knife(With blade lock)
[2]Soft, fine grain wood without knots and growth rings(basswood??)
[3]Whetstone of atleast 2 different grits(rough and not-so-rough)
[4]Some form of finish??Wax spray??Organic oil??(Something like Krylon Perserve It Spray?
used that before but on paper)
[5]Work gloves
[6]Work glasses
[7]Sand paper

What i want to know(but not limited to, so please add in the comments if you think
there are things i should put into consideration but have not):
[A]Where can i get above listed items [1]-[4]?(As cheap & reliable as possible)
(preferably non-online purchase)
How detailed can it get using just a single pocket knife(examples needed)
(assuming some experience has been accumulated)(I am particularly interested
in small objects and micro details. Think homemade 'danbo' figure for macro
photography. Also other decorative and utility objects)
[C]How long did it take for YOU to obtain results deemed acceptable to YOU?
[D]For those who've worked with Jelutong/Meranti before, which is more similar to
whittling wood?(Meranti gave me hell with the splintering, loved the Jelutong)

All help/advice is appreciated
-Leo
 

#2
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=whittling+projects+for+beginners

Tons of information thanks to youtube. I have not done wood carving with pen knife since my sea scout days heh. Using local wood you might have to experiment to get one you can carve easy and move up progressively to the hard wood which last longer, better for more delicate cuts. Have fun. I did not carry this after my sea scouts day though heh. My best remember one was a carved wooden knife handle for my 8 inches blade. Just itchy fingers to give the knife I carry in camp looking like some jungle tribal thingy. Careful though, I had a few cuts when I slip making too fast strokes and lots of wood splinters.

This was common in my Tai Sing kampung days.. but almost a lost art now till you brought it up heh
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
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0
Choa chu kang
#4
Thanks for your replies!
@catchlights
Made a trip down to artfriend clementi yesterday actually.
Forgot to add in the list. I'll probably need an axe? The basswood artfriend sells comes in circular/oval shape cuts with the outermost layer of the trunk, seems really thick. Doubt i can remove that with a knife.
Any trustable online supply sources to recommend? I scared kena some shaddy seller.

@sammy888
You mean the finished product loses definition over time? =O how does that work?
No worries anyways, im pretty confident with knife handling as long as it is of the right sturdiness, weight and dimension. That said, what is a good length to look for? Blade length and handle length? I noticed most dedicated single-edge whittling knives have small, slightly curved front edge, with wave shape handle. Hows that different in whittling experience from common single-edge pocket knife?
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
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0
Choa chu kang
#5
Heading down to dhoby now for Art Friend/Spotlight/Daiso. Shall look for a reliable wood supply first before i even start buying into anything else. Wish me luck!
 

#6
Thanks for your replies!
@catchlights
Made a trip down to artfriend clementi yesterday actually.
Forgot to add in the list. I'll probably need an axe? The basswood artfriend sells comes in circular/oval shape cuts with the outermost layer of the trunk, seems really thick. Doubt i can remove that with a knife.
Any trustable online supply sources to recommend? I scared kena some shaddy seller.

@sammy888
You mean the finished product loses definition over time? =O how does that work?
No worries anyways, im pretty confident with knife handling as long as it is of the right sturdiness, weight and dimension. That said, what is a good length to look for? Blade length and handle length? I noticed most dedicated single-edge whittling knives have small, slightly curved front edge, with wave shape handle. Hows that different in whittling experience from common single-edge pocket knife?

I had a few knives actually back then being a avid scout. from small ones, art cutting blades to one actual buck knife look alike cheap knockoff. My time where got specialist whittling knife. heh but you need difference blade sizes and shape for different carving size or style. You can not use a parang size to make small curvy detailing like a flower design the size of a coin. heh. For fine work I used those snap off blades for detailing. Each time the tip is blunt, I snap off the tip to get another sharp edge. It is the same for those who use chisel set to carve statues. If you are really going to get serious with it and would to be doing this to the point where the finish product is very well detailed, smooth without looking rough like, then you have to invest a lot of time to do it and have a set of relevant tools for it. I never got that far heh.

And wood snap off and too quick worn down? That will depend on the type of wood you use. Some wood flex more, some snap easy, some are tough to carve, fiberous, some just give way too easily as it all depend on how the wood fiber binds to form wood..etc So you got to learn to know your trees. A good carpenter before he learns to do woodwork will need to know his wood. I use to just go into patches of wild trees near a kampung estate and saw off branches to use heh Problem with that is, those are from live trees which mean there are more moisture in the wood depending again on the type of tree. So you fine sometime, over a few months the texture and parts you cut might give way...etc.

If all you have is 1 whittling knife or whatever knife, a lot depend on how skillful you are with the knife, what you can creatively imagine you can carve on that given wood shape or size and because all you want is use one knife for the entire production? Then it will limit how much detailing you can get with each nick or cut for finer detailing. Have you seen a person carve some with an axe?!! It is amazing but of course the final result is a large carving with very cruet rough finishing which is also part of the whole unique look.

Don't worry too much I say. Just go at it on some wood. Get a feel for the cutting strokes long and short, slicing, making notches, shape indentation..etc. Learning how to hold the knife in various manner for different cut pattern. how to control your strength as you carve..etc. If you only just starting out, it is too early for you to be thinking what you need to get or try to go overboard anticipating and buying as much gear as you could heh It is just like someone buying too much photographic gear due to their excitement and be totally overwhelmed by it and kill the interest. Remember in my case I did not have many knives because I love to carve. I just love knives for fun as some boys do growing up in the kampun times before computer games, social media and even to some extend TV !! LOL
 

Last edited:
Jan 23, 2015
114
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Choa chu kang
#7
Just came back from the trip down town. Small returns. Only goggles and gloves covered. It would seem that it is hard to get basswood in blocks. There is some in planks and square sticks, didnt buy. Tho i found lots of balsa wood in various dimensions, i found it too light for my liking. Weights like styrofoam... Think i'll have to get it online no choice.

Have to agree on the overwhelming gear acquisition part initially. My 1 knife policy is brought over from photography's 1 camera 1 lens policy. Goes without saying it cannot do everything. But i want it to be generalist and master just that 1 knife. Straight blade with curved front seems promising. Not going to try penknife though. Not so confident with controlling a thin wobbly blade.

Caesar sells surprisingly cheap(starting from 3x sgd)yet durable looking pocket knives. Can handle it in shop also. Any experience with buying from them? Im 20 so can i buy by myself? Hadnt enquired when i was there since i want to secure the wood source first, knowing my new side hobby has a direction. Would have no use for a pocket knife if i cant start whittling due to lack of base material.
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
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Choa chu kang
#8
And so...my first project broke when near completion...Mr whale fell off the shelf...1 minute of silence for Mr Whale :(

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kklee

New Member
Aug 13, 2004
403
1
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#9
What wood did you managed to get ?
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
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0
Choa chu kang
#10
What wood did you managed to get ?
Basswood. As shown in pic. So far its the only place i can find basswood at. Its the art shop across the road(in an old building) from la salle art institute. Comes nicely packed and with label. Patronize them and keep our local timber source up and running! They sell various sizes basswood/balsa blocks, balsa/pine rods, fibreboards.

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Jan 23, 2015
114
0
0
Choa chu kang
#11
Anyone have an idea whr to get a small pen sized&shaped drill? Need it to poke a stick through my work, use as handle while i apply the finishing oil/wax/polish.

Another thing is, i shifted to using a craft pen from daiso, since i cant get the bought-unsharpened specialty whittling knife sharp enough. Any tips on sharpening using fine grit sandpaper?(much more affordable than whetstones)
 

daredevil123

Moderator
Staff member
Oct 25, 2005
21,645
63
48
lil red dot
#12
Anyone have an idea whr to get a small pen sized&shaped drill? Need it to poke a stick through my work, use as handle while i apply the finishing oil/wax/polish.

Another thing is, i shifted to using a craft pen from daiso, since i cant get the bought-unsharpened specialty whittling knife sharp enough. Any tips on sharpening using fine grit sandpaper?(much more affordable than whetstones)
Look for dremel. Available in many hardware stores in sg.

As for sharpening, look for lansky sharpening system. Can get from urbantoolhaus
 

G-man

Senior Member
Mar 2, 2006
2,280
6
38
My House
#13
What you need is a pin-vise. You can get them at scale hobby shops. There are 2 shops at sunshine plaza. One is inside opposite victors kitchen dim sum and the other is outside, facing Selegie.

As for sanding, look at 3M sanding sponges. They can be wet or dry sanded. After use can wash to clear the grit. Can also be cut into smaller pieces to use for smaller areas.

http://solutions.3m.com.sg/wps/port...0000_nid=GSNP8DBF4Mgs12CCNSL5QPglGC6RPD21Q1bl
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
0
0
Choa chu kang
#15
Look for dremel. Available in many hardware stores in sg.

As for sharpening, look for lansky sharpening system. Can get from urbantoolhaus
The dremel system seems a little too elaborate and expensive. As for the sharpening system, on lansky's websitrle theres a 'pocket' set that would seem to occupy less space in my small room. Seems like its not as receded as similar ones meant for kitchen use, hence i can put the short blade through. What worries me though is the sharpening angle of these things. Will that be of concern? Or am i thinking too far?
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
0
0
Choa chu kang
#16
What you need is a pin-vise. You can get them at scale hobby shops. There are 2 shops at sunshine plaza. One is inside opposite victors kitchen dim sum and the other is outside, facing Selegie.

As for sanding, look at 3M sanding sponges. They can be wet or dry sanded. After use can wash to clear the grit. Can also be cut into smaller pieces to use for smaller areas.

http://solutions.3m.com.sg/wps/portal/3M/en_SG/SG-CarCare/CarCare/Car-Professional/Product-Catalog/?PC_Z7_RJH9U52308QVF0IU4MO7SI10L1000000_nid=GSNP8DBF4Mgs12CCNSL5QPglGC6RPD21Q1bl
Thanks for the pin vise suggestion, the location greatly helps too!
As for the sanding sponge, what grit should i be looking for?(assuming it is not much more expensive compared to general use sand paper)
 

Jan 23, 2015
114
0
0
Choa chu kang
#19
Maybe. I've got some pinewood(I think) lying around so now looking at whether I have the necessary "inventory" to do it.
I hope you enjoy it then! Cant offer you any advise since im also new. From what i've read though, try to revolve your design around areas of the timber without knots.
The pine's texture and color might prove to be of use. Some instances while i was working on the whale, i had to shift to face to/away/diagonal to the light. Since the uniform light color of the basswood makes it difficult to check angle and symmetry without some shadows.
Wish you best of luck!
 

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