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Whittling with Chris: Making a Letter Opener

Whittle your first project! Versatile letter opener can also be a fork, jam spreader, or pickle poker


You’ve found some branches, chosen a knife, and shaped and sharpened the blade. It’s time to carve! Chris Lubkemann’s favorite first project is a versatile letter opener. You’ll learn how to shape the blade, decorate the handle, and harden the edge.


Don’t need a letter opener? Don’t worry! Chris will show you how to use the same steps to form a fork, jam spreader, or a “pickle poker”—useful for serving vegetables or fruits.


A child of missionaries, Chris Lubkemann grew up in the forests of Brazil and Peru, where he developed an appreciation for knives and entertained himself and others by handcrafting rafts, tree houses, traps, and slingshots from scrap wood. As an adult, he has continued to use his woodworking skills for gold old-fashioned fun. Chris has carved some of the world’s smallest branch carvings; in fact, his smallest branch rooster was given a Guinness World Record Certificate. The author of five books on woodcarving with Fox Chapel Publishing, Chris currently demonstrates whittling as the resident woodcarver at the Amish Farm and House in Lancaster, Pa. Visit his website at



Want to learn more about whittling?

Subscribe to Woodcarving Illustrated magazine, or visit our website to buy back issues. Check out our special issues all about Whittling. Visit our website to buy Chris Lubkemann’s books.

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