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Whittling Chip Project & Pocketknives


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#1 SlowDerbyRacer

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 03:48 PM

This is the year our group is doing the whittling chip. I suspect most scouts will have some type of traditional pocketknife, be it a Swiss Army type or single blade locking type. However when I see what types of projects are commonly done as part of this achievement, I can't help but think a regular pocketknife is all wrong. To me a pocket knife it great if you want to make a spear and/or just create shavings, but if you want to do anything with any degree of detail you really need an actual carving blade or tool. Am I wrong here? How did some of you reconcile the projects some kids may have wanted with the tools they had? For example, I think even some basic neckerchief slides could be tough with a regular knife. Thanks in advance for any guidance or best practices.
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#2 qwazse

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 09:13 PM

The trick with pocket knifes for carving is a light touch and little chips. This is something that takes a while to practice. Use soft wood, like balsa. Most boys aren't going to become apprentice wood carvers, so keep the bar low.
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#3 Stosh

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 10:20 PM

The BSA Whittler knife has a 2.25" standard curve blade, 1.5" standard curved blade and 1.25" flat blade. BSA camp knife is way too bulky and the blade is too wide for detail work. Same for most Swiss Army knives. When I was a kid, we started out by carving Ivory soap bars to get the technique down. Stosh
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#4 Sidney Porter

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 07:36 AM

I am not a wood carver but my dad is. So I have a lot of exposure to to proper carving tools and techniques. I would agree with you a pocket knife is not the proper tool for carving (although neither is a chainsaw but I digress). But IMHO the purpose of the the Whittling Chip is not create a project but rather teach knife safety. That can be done with the knives they own and a pocket knife, that knife is also the one they will more than likely taking camping. edit: you are going to be spending a lot of time on how to open, close, hand the knife to someone else, hold the knife, sharpen, safety circle, BSA / council rules on knives, carring their whip with them etc. I would go with the balsa or soap. Soap tends to be messy but is easy to get.
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#5 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 10:05 AM

We did this around Christmas and used Ivory Soap. Made bell decorations for the Christmas tree. If you use Ivory Soap, key is to let it dry out some. Just don't put it in the microwave or you'll create a "soap monster" and have the smell, and taste, of Ivory Soap for a while. ;) The day camp does Whittling Chip with the boys, and they do have the carving knives.
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#6 blw2

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 12:34 PM

When I ran the boys through the chip, I brought in a variety of cheap pocket knives for demo and practicing opening and closing + brought in a bunch of table knifes and ivory soap for practice. I found that the soap is better to be scraped off rather than cut. To me, the goal really isn't about making something so much as to practice knife handling and whittling, not carving. A proper carving knife has a big handle and very small blade.... and that's not what we are trying to teach. In the time allotted, the boys aren't going to make any real works of art anyway.
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#7 Petey091

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 05:49 PM

There is a book amazon sells called Soap Carving -for children of all ages. The book has plenty of patterns and it also shows how to make carving knives and other tool out of popsicle sticks. When I did it I spent an evening making a set of tools for each of my cubs. At the meeting I had the cubs do all the carving while seated on a large blue tarp. When we were done I just rolled the tarp up and took it outside to shake out the soap chips.
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#8 st0ut717

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 09:44 PM

There are several Cub Scout victorinox knives plus gerbers compact scout. The purpose is to teach knife safety. You are teaching future boy scouts. Not future wood carvers
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#9 SSScout

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 08:41 PM

Amen, brother. We are teaching safety and proper care. The carving of wood, necker slides and such, will come later. Best to get them on the "respect the TOOL" and "respect the EDGE" side of things. Sharpening, edge away from the body, oiling and cleaning.... You can mention carving blades (exacto, etc.) and perhaps demo some slide carving, but that should, IMHO, be a separate Advanced blade class. Then too, not everybody will have the desire or talent to attempt a real carving. As to the soap.... Ivory Bath SIze bars are good. Unwrap them and let them dry out as long as you can before carving. I also do the sit on the tarp trick, but then, I collect the shavings, and stuff them into old Knee-hi nylon stockings or the mesh bags little tomatoes or little onions come in. Tie'em up like htat, and you've got handwashing soap for the next six months. A Scout is Thrifty.
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#10 Faith

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Posted 26 September 2014 - 11:35 PM

I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for everyone posting tips about this. I'm over the Bears this year and we will be working on this soon. I didn't know about letting the soap dry out beforehand (we'd already decided that's what we'd start out with.) I'd also wondered about the bulkiness of the knives but I like the approach of small steps now, bigger ones later.
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#11 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 09:18 AM

My advice is to keep an eye on the lefties, my lefty Bears seemed to have more problems with thicker knives then the rest. Also I tried to discourage the Swiss Army type knife for this...just seemed too thick.
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#12 Chisos

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 05:28 PM

My advice is to keep an eye on the lefties, my lefty Bears seemed to have more problems with thicker knives then the rest. Also I tried to discourage the Swiss Army type knife for this...just seemed too thick.


Or, in my case, look out for the "lefty" den leaders...I had to keep that in mind while demonstrating knife technique for my mostly right-handed Bear den.
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#13 Sidney Porter

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Posted 30 September 2014 - 06:44 AM


Or, in my case, look out for the "lefty" den leaders...I had to keep that in mind while demonstrating knife technique for my mostly right-handed Bear den.


Sit across from them when demonstrating so it can be like a mirror?
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#14 SSScout

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Posted 30 September 2014 - 10:29 AM

Oh, another point (which you will note on your own eventually).... the soap carving will cause lots of soap in the knife box and hinge. After cleaning out, oil well! The soap is hygroscopic, it tends to collect water and will encourage rusting...
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