Which wood for Whittling?

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Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Arbor » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:12 pm

I work as a Forest School Leader in a school and am finding teaching whittling to children (6-8 years) a bit of a challenge.

I start with potato peelers and when the children are more proficient move on to penknives.

Part of the challenge is that childrens fine motor skills are varied so there is a range of abilities.

However I am pretty new to whittling myself and learning as I go along I do wonder if I am using the most suitable wood for whittling.

Can anyone recommend a suitable wood for whittling with young children? We have a variety of mature trees on the site including Willow, Silver Birch and Chestnut. I don't want to cause too much damage to any trees on the site.

Someone recommended using cheap Pine offcuts and whilst I wouldn't mind utilising old scrap I wouldn't want to start buying it.

Anyone got any tips on teaching children to whittle. Many Thanks :shock:
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Davie Crockett » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:23 pm

Hi Arbor,

The most reliable wood is ash, but any hardwood (Deciduous) is good for whittling provided it is green. Conifers tend to be stringy/split.

Try posting on Bodgers.org.uk (Ask&answer forum). Loads of green wood related stuff and some experienced forest school peeps there.

Good luck,
Davie (I'm Davie Crockett on there too)
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Arbor » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:00 pm

Thankyou Davie Crockett for your reply.

The Bodgers site is really amazing. I had no idea there was such a thing as a 'Bodger' but it is now added to my Favourites list.
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Davie Crockett » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:28 pm

No Worries, Happy to help! :icon_smile:
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Odsox » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:21 am

I was taught how to make a whistle out of an ash stick when I was a lad. It involved finding a nice straight branch about 1/2 inch in diameter and cutting a length about 6 inches long. It had to be done as the sap was rising in spring and then if you tapped the stick with the handle of your pocket knife, it loosened the bark from the wood so that you could twist it off and be left with a tube.
Before that you cut a notch in the bark for the whistle bit and then afterwards you replaced a sliver of wood to direct the air to the notch, just like any other whistle.
Easy when you know how. :iconbiggrin:
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Arbor » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:49 am

Wow-that's fascinating!

I have heard the expression 'sap rising' but more as a 'Double entendre'. I must admit to being completely ignorant to the real meaning of 'sap rising' in relation to trees.

What exactly happens when the sap rises? Please don't laugh -I know what sap is but where does it rise to?
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Odsox » Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:46 pm

The sap rises in all trees in spring to feed the bursting buds right out to the furthest tips of the branches.
There is no sap to speak of during winter, only when the tree is actively growing, and the channels where the sap flows is between the bark and the woody bit.
Now is the best time to "tap" maple trees and birch trees to drain off some of the sap for syrup and stop giving money to Mr Tate & Mr Lyle. :iconbiggrin:
Tony

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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Davie Crockett » Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:23 pm

Before that you cut a notch in the bark for the whistle bit and then afterwards you replaced a sliver of wood to direct the air to the notch, just like any other whistle.


The insert is called a "Fipple"....Diagram from Wiki shows how it is shaped.

Image
Cross-section of the head of a recorder, indicating the wooden fipple plug (A), a "ducted flue" windway (B), and the "labium" (lip) (C) which forms the far edge of the "voicing mouth" The labium splits the air flow and creates resonance.

With regard to the sap rising, this is drawn up the cambium layer (just under the bark) first by positive pressure from the root system,then once the leaves develop (In deciduous trees) by capillary action from the leaves as they evaporate water during the respiration process.

The actual wood inside the cambium layer is skeletal structure and technically is no longer living material. This is why hollow trees can exist and continue growing despite losing much of their bulk. As long as the cambium remains intact and there is enough "scaffold" for it to grow on, it will survive.
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Arbor » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:58 pm

How fascinating - you are never to old to learn. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my query.

I shall attempt to explain this to the children that I work with. Despite the fact that they have the lure of the digital age to distract them they are still fascinated to learn about the natural world.
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby gregorach » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:25 am

Getting back to the original query, for beginners, lime is very good - very easy to work. For fine detail work, box is the superior choice. Stay away from pine, it's horrible.
Cheers

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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Arbor » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:48 pm

Thank you for your reply. Can I ask why Pine is horrible? I assumed it would be suitable because it is a soft wood.
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby Odsox » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:40 pm

I don't know what Dunc thinks but I wouldn't recommend living pine because it's full of resin and would glue your fingers together in a very short time.
Not nice. :(
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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby MKG » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:32 pm

Arbor wrote:Thank you for your reply. Can I ask why Pine is horrible? I assumed it would be suitable because it is a soft wood.


I stand prepared to be shot down, but I think you may be getting confused between a soft wood and a softwood. All coniferous trees are softwoods - but not necessarily soft. Equally, all (at least European) deciduous trees are hardwoods - but not necessarily hard. Balsa is a hardwood, but I wouldn't be too confident in its ability to sustain carving. Pine (a softwood), when dried properly, is good structurally or, as broad planks, good for facing - but it isn't great for carving.

I think.

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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby gregorach » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:18 am

Arbor wrote:Thank you for your reply. Can I ask why Pine is horrible? I assumed it would be suitable because it is a soft wood.


Its grain is coarse and uneven, it's usually full of knots, it's prone to splitting, and even when seasoned it can still contain a lot of resin, which gums up both your hands and your tools and is a nightmare to clean off anything.

The whole hardwood / softwood thing can be confusing. For example, Lime is a hardwood, but it's softer than most softwoods.
Cheers

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Re: Which wood for Whittling?

Postby oldfella » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:00 am

When I saw Mike replying to this topic, I thought we we going to get the recipe for Retsina wine. :drunken:
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