What makes a whittler>

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by rmangu, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. rmangu


    Feb 2, 2005
    I have not been here in years, just started to have the time and money to get back. I still have my striders and sebenzas, but really getting into quality barlows, stockman, and would like a nice "whittler" course you can whittle with any knife. What makes a real whittler? I am also very interested in D2, tool steel, Ats34, S35VN in the classic bone/stag styles I would appreciate any guidance.
  2. Basp2005


    Dec 6, 2015
    A rocking chair and a porch. Can't whittle without them.
    onekerf likes this.
  3. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Gotta be wearing your favorite hat, listening to your favorite music, and sipping your favorite beverage as well.
    I'm serious about that, the relaxing mindset both improves the whittling experience and is improved by it, and for me that's exactly why I pick up a stick and make a pile out of it.

    I dabble in whittling here and there to pass the time mostly making random little things , and I personally like a stockman or the case 6208 half whittler.
    The 6208 is just one I like, but a stockman of some kind works great.
    The deep belly of the spey is great for dished type cuts and the sheep's foot or coping blade I use for most things.
    I'm not into the pattern based on looks, but the Congress is a popular choice and the 3 blader I used to have had a great blade selection.

    Can't help with the blade steel since the basic old school stuff is what I love in a knife but I'd bet GEC is probably where to look.
  4. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Check out the case/bose lock back whittler. Cpm154 with a big wharncliff and a small pen and small clip blade.
  5. kwackster


    Dec 23, 2005
    See if you can locate an older Puma stockman or comparable in their proprietary "New Stainless Super Keen Cutting Steel".
    This older steel takes & holds highly polished edges with thinner edge angles very well, and is also very stainless.
  6. Rykjeklut

    Rykjeklut Basic Member Basic Member

    May 23, 2018
  7. marcinek

    marcinek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Are you asking 'what determines a whittler pattern slipjoint?' or 'what determines a knife that whittles well?'
  8. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    I find different blade shapes work better for different things, so I like multi-blade knives for whittling. I generally prefer thin blades over thick ones, and a little flex doesn't bother me, either. I've thinned them out now, but at one time I had over thirty knives in my whittling kit so I could grab whatever I wanted for what I was doing at the time.

    https://bladeforums.com/threads/carving-knife-and-chat-thread.1046919/ has some pretty good discussion on the subject.
  9. Stumpy72

    Stumpy72 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 5, 2018
    What makes a good "whittler” (i.e: wood carving/sculpture knive) IMO is a combination of how comfortable the knife is to use and how well the blade takes and holds an edge. Slipjoint pattern knives are the historical, traditional go-to blades for “whittling.” Tradition notwithstanding, dedicated fixed blade knives designed specifically for wood carving are far more comfortable to use and are far better designed for effective, detailed carving. Those knives have large, well-shaped, ergo handles (and usually small blades) and they’re a lot more comfortable to use than slipjoint pattern knives. The carving knives offered by Pfeil, Flexcut and Helvie are good examples but there are lots of other good ones available.

    You could probably do most carving projects with most knives, but if you want to choose a knife for wood carving your first decision has to be whether to go with tradition (a slipjoint pattern knife) or function (a fixed blade dedicated carving knife). If your carving activity will be limited, almost anything will do. If you’re going to tackle larger or more serious carving projects, you may find the traditional slipjoints are uncomfortable for extended use and that the dedicated fixed blade carving knives are the way to go.

    Good luck with whichever way you decide to go.
    evilgreg likes this.
  10. evilgreg

    evilgreg Why so serious? Gold Member

    Dec 25, 2012
    I'm with @Stumpy72 on this one. The longer you're planning to carve the more you're going to want a small, thin blade with a big, comfortable handle.

    I whittle a bit with every knife I carry, and anything is fine for a half hour here or there. I mean, some cut better than others, but you can whittle with anything if you're motivated. If I whittle for hours, though, as I often do, my hand starts to ache on some knives a lot quicker than others. I've bought lots of dedicated whittling knives, maybe a couple of dozen at this point, and there are a lot of great options out there at various price points. Of the production brands that seem to be available everywhere, something like a Helvie is a fine option. There are plenty of small makers that pump out custom whittling knives, often at very reasonable prices. I really like a couple that I have from Deepwoods Ventures for example. That said, after buying dozens of dedicated carvers I mostly carve with a Cold Steel Tuff Lite that I've wrapped in some kind of self-bonding rubber grip tape. They're at the bottom of this picture, with last night's project and a handful of other knives in the background:


    They're butt-ugly, and shaped just perfectly for me. I can carve for hours with them without having my right hand ache. I do 90%+ of my carving with them, switching over to other tools only when I need to (mostly small detail knives, thin longer bladed knives for separating balls from cages and that sort of thing, and Pfeil gouges and chisels where they make sense).

    My favorite traditional to carve with is a Case Seahorse whittler, but I don't really use it much.
  11. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    What makes a whittler? A knife that you like, is sharp, and allows you the dexterity you are comfortable with. But for serious wood carving, I would go with specifically designed carving knives such as shown at the top of evilgreg's post above.
  12. Stumpy72

    Stumpy72 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 5, 2018
    The Cold Steel Tuff Lite that you mummified in tape is the distilled essence of the spirit and form of what I’d call a serious carving knife. It's long on handle, totally ergo in design, strongly user comfort-oriented and it has a beefy enough blade for roughing and general carving work. The importance of those characteristics will make itself obvious to anybody who puts in long hours on woodcarving projects.

    I’ve tried carving with traditional slipjoint pattern knives, but they caused too much discomfort and pain for me to use them for any significant length of time. My arthritic old meathooks force me to use user-comfortable, dedicated carving knives for woodcarving whenever I tackle any substantive project.
  13. flatblackcapo

    flatblackcapo Part time maker, very very part time Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 25, 2012
    If your question was geared toward what makes a knife a whittler pattern, it is the positioning of the blades. The main blade is centered and by itself on one end and the two secondary blades are set to each side of the main blade and pivot from the other end of the handle. The blades can pretty much be of any style ( Clip, Wharncliffe, ect. ) but as long as it fallows the previous mentioned blade configuration it will be considered a Whittler pattern.

    A few whittler pics

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