Friday, 5 December 2014

Whittling Wood, How to Whittle a Fork




Sunlight shimmers through what’s left of the autumn leaves, as a cool breeze flows through the forest.




Your hike has been enlightening, but as the sun dips behind the hills and the light begins to fade, the temperature drops. You set up camp while there’s still feeling in your toes, and look for wood to build a fire. This is an easy task this time of year as fallen branches litter the ground as far as the eye can see.


As you carry back the spoils of your search, it dawns upon you that you have forgotten the most basic of utensils. A spoon, a fork…. How will you eat your evening meal?! To go without is not an option as the hike has been arduous. But as you throw down your collection of branches, you no longer see a pile of sticks, but rather the materials to carve and create whatever your mind can conceive! Placing a few small branches to one side, you create a fire, to which you brew a warming cup of tea on, and return to the branches you placed safely beside you.


Rummaging through your rucksack, you find an assortment of knives. You need a safe blade, nothing too long, one that fits comfortably in your hand, and has a sharp, fixed blade. Which one to use is boiled down to two options. You have a small knife, perfect for whittling but it feels slightly dull, and you have no sharpening equipment on you. A dull knife is not only frustrating to carve with, but can also be highly dangerous. Not sharp enough to cut cleanly through the wood, it could easily skip out and slice through your hand! You notice a box cutter or ‘utility knife’ in the base of your bag. The interchangeable blades guarantee your knife will be sharp, and the blade can be replaced as it becomes dull.


Luckily you’re not one to flirt with danger and always carry a pair of Kevlar gloves with you! Gloves on and knife in hand, you pick up your chosen branch, place your knife across the centre of the branch’s end grain, and hammer the back of the knife with a spare branch. This splits the branch in half. You divide it mentally into thirds, then choose one third to become the fork and the other two thirds, the handle.
                                       

Looking at the branch so that the flat edge faces up, you carve out a recess beneath, what will be, the handle.


You could leave the fork flat and simple, but decide to carve a gentle curve into it.


The base of the fork is shaped, so now all you need to do is follow the curve on the top and blend it into the handle.


Flipping the fork over, you’re able to carve the top.



Using the same line that marked one third of the branch, you carve in to the required thickness of the handle.


From that same imaginary line, you carve a gentle curve the other way. This gives the fork head some shape.


Only one more thing to do, to finish it off, and that is to give it some prongs, or ‘tines’ to give them their real name. If you had a small saw you could have simply cut a few lines straight down, leaving you with long tines. But seeing as you’ve been forgetful this trip, you must make do with your knife. The simplest way to recreate tines with a knife is to just cut small V shapes from the end, leaving you with some rudimentary spikes.



 
Not only has this been an enjoyable pastime while reflecting on your camping trip, but you also get a sense of satisfaction from creating something useful! 
Now to take the other branch you put to one side, and make something beautiful from it as a keep sake of your adventure!


To buy a knife suitable for whittling and some Kevlar gloves to keep your hands safe. I've provided links below to a few I highly recommend. But feel free to take a look and choose what best suits you! Just click on the links and take a look at the related items!

     


photo credit: Tjflex2 via photopin cc
photo credit: ShotHotspot.com via photopin cc

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