Patterns & Projects / Whittling

Quick Carve Spreader

Carve this useful utensil out of a branch using only a pocketknife

By Chris Lubkemann

Most—if not all—of my carvings are done in green wood. That’s just my style and you can easily find it when camping, hiking, or even in your back yard. or this project, choose a straight, knot-free branch.

Basic Cutting Strokes
There are several ways to cut with a knife. The three particular strokes described here are for right-handed carvers. Left-handers, of course, will reverse the hands, following a mirror image of the descriptions.

Straightaway Cutting
This cut is good for removing a lot of wood or bark quickly. Hold the wood in your left hand and, using long, firm strokes, cut away from yourself with your right hand. I find that when I use this stroke my right wrist is pretty well locked, not bending during the cutting stroke.

This technique involves placing the wood in your left hand and the knife in your right. Cut toward yourself (sort of like peeling an orange), with short strokes, using your right thumb as a brace against the wood. Be sure to keep some wood between the blade and your thumb. I find it helpful (and much safer!) to keep my right thumb braced on my left thumb, not on top of the wood itself. That way I don’t run the risk of the blade coming up into my right thumb on its follow through when it suddenly clears the end of the wood.

This particular stroke is extremely practical for small cuts where precise control is needed and you don’t want to overcut. Hold the wood in the four fingers of your left hand, leaving your left thumb free. Grip the knife in your right hand, keeping your right thumb against the back of the blade. With your left thumb, push either the back of the blade or the back of your right thumb.

Green branch, 3/4″ (19mm) dia.: approx. 8″ (20.3cm) long
Sandpaper: fine grit
Finish: clear finish of choice (optional)

Knife of choice


For further reading, purchase Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Whittling Book by Chris Lubkemann. In this book the world’s leading whittling expert teams up with the world’s most popular pocketknife maker to reveal his award-winning whittling secrets in dozens of simple step-by-step projects. The book is available for purchase for $12.99 plus S&H from


This article first appeared in Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2005 (Issue 32).





Comments are closed.