I had fun carving this rustic butter knife from a fairly chunky hazel rod. The diameter of the rod was about one and a quarter inches with six years of growth rings in it, and the finished knife around 11 inches long. I took inspiration from Chris Lubkemann’s book, the Little Book of Whittling for the design, especially his signature rooster’s head pattern which adorns the butter knife. Of course, carving in the round means that the piece retains the pith of the wood, seen at the tip of the butter knife blade, but, fingers crossed, no checks or splits so far.
I carved it in preparation for some work with children and their parents planned as part of the educational activities at Combe Mill, a historic steam and water mill powered sawmill here in Oxfordshire. Thinking through some of the challenges of working with children, especially the safety aspects, has been interesting and I’m looking forward to some experimentation with the son of a colleague in the coming days. Volunteers at Combe Mill are managing a woodland area close to the Mill by coppicing hazel, so it is very exciting to use this as a resource for whittling fun.
I purchased a couple of Hultafors Safety Knives at a very good price from the Axminster.co.uk website (no affiliation!) and it will be interesting to see how children take to them. The rounded ends, finger guard and colourful handle all earn big ticks on the safety angle, but whether they will pass muster as real knives will be interesting to see.
When I tried carving with the knives they were very sharp from the box, but came with a very fine micro-bevel on the blade, which made it quite difficult to get the knife to register on the surface being carved. Some honing and stropping seems to have restored a single Scandinavian grind to the knives.
I’ll also be experimenting with hand protection for the non-carving hand, including a thumb guard for paring cuts. I’m looking forward to working with a younger audience and tapping into their natural enthusiasm for all things sharp!