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Care of Knife 

Knives which are to be used for whittling should be sharpened on a medium or fine sharpening stone.  This whetstone should be lubricated with sharpening oil to prevent the pores of the stone filling with metal filings.  Apply the blade of the knife to the stone with its back slightly tilted, about 30 degrees for a normal knife, or as little as 10 degrees if you are using a special whittling knife.  Push it across the face of the stone as if you were peeling off a layer.  Reverse to other side of the blade and repeat.  After being used, the knife should be wiped clean before closing and once in awhile a drop of oil put on the joints. 

All rules for the use of the knife state that you should never cut toward the body.  This is true except for some kinds of whittling where it will be necessary to disregard this.  Great care must be taken to prevent the knife slipping.  In all cases a sharp knife works better than a dull one.  It is often necessary to give the blade one or two rubs on the sharpening stone while working to keep the edge smooth. 


bullet Fuzz Stick: Take a piece of soft wood and with a sharp knife whittle long thin shavings, leaving them at tached to the stick.  The trick of whittling so that the shavings remain on the stick can be done easily: pull on the stick; cut a little deeper as you near the end and twist the wrist in a little.  
bulletFid: A fid is made of wood and is used for opening the strands of a rope.  It should be made from an even- grained hardwood such as maple or birch.  When finished it should be about 3/4 inch in diameter at the large end,  tapered to a point  and from 6 to 8 inches long.  A hole is bored through the large end, through which a cord or thong is passed so the fid will hand from the wrist.
bullet Pot Hooks:  These are so common t h a t they need no description.  In making these both the knife and hatchet may be used and it is therefore good practice for the Second Class K n i f e & Ax Requirements.  Where tree-crotches are not obtainable a good pot hook may be made by taking a straight stick and near each end bore a slanting hole with the punch on a Scout knife and inserting a smaller stick in each hole. 
bullet Pancake Flipper:  A pancake turner should be cut from a piece of soft wood.  The illustration shows the shape.  The broad part should be tapered to a thin edge so that it may easily slide under the pancake.  
bullet Forks and Spoons
bullet Letter Opener:  Tools required: hatchet, jack knife, sand paper, shellac.  A good place to gather material is along fence rows or where trees have been cut down and sprouts have grown from the stump.  These generally have odd shapes that can be worked up very artistically.  

Cut the "blank" an inch or so longer than the length of the finished knife to allow for " checking" while drying.  When blank is thoroughly dry, look it over carefully so as to be able to get the best shape for the blade and also so that it will lie flat on the desk.  When this is decided, cut out the blade with a knife.  Some woods can be cut from both sides toward the middle; others, because of their pith, will have to be cut from only one side. 

Never attempt to put the cutting edge to the blade with the jack knife.  Use fine sand paper for this.  The handle may be left natural or carved into a design as you like.  Waterproof " india ink" may be used for designs or lettering and then the whole letter opener is given a coat of shellac. 

A good way to apply the shellac is to wrap your index finger with a piece of cloth, dip this into t he shellac and then rub it on.  A higher polish may be given by using a little linseed oil, using the same cloth and rubbing it on before the shellac sets. Rubbing down with a piece of coarse canvas will also add to the polish. 

bullet Ball and Chains
bulletNoggins:  A noggin is a real woodsman's drinking cup.  It is made from a burl, sometimes called a "tree wart."   Burls are found more often on old trees.  The best ones are from maple, birch, apple and cherry.  

The burl should be sawed off because they often split when they are chopped off.  The outer bark should be cut off first as quite often there are worm holes that would spoil the finished cup.  The best tool for gouging out the inside is an outside ground gouge not over 1/2 inch wide.  A 1/4-inch gouge will also be handy for finishing. 

Burls are best worked green, as the wood is softer.  To prevent  ' check" they should be immersed in water when not being worked on.  Keeping them soaked also helps to carve out the softer inside.  When the shell is worked thin enough it should be given a good coat of linseed oil.  A good plan is to let it soak in the oil for a day or two, as this will eliminate checking.  The finished noggin should be attached to a leather thong with a horn or wood toggle on the end so that it can be carried, slipped under the belt.  Patience is a virtue when making a noggin but the finished product is well worth the effort. 

bullet Neckerchief Slides:  These may be made either from wood or bone and may be worked up very artistically.  Almost any of our native wood may be used, especially birch, dogwood, maple and red cedar.  Use no live wood.  

The simplest form of a slide is made from a natural branch about 11/4 inches in diameter.  Saw off a section about an inch wide.  The hole may be bored with a wood bit or may be worked out with the punch on a Scout knife.  To finish, take a narrow strip of sandpaper wrapped around a stick and smooth up the inside. Finish with shellac and linseed oil as you did for the letter opener.  

Other slides may be made from larger sections by boring several holes with a 3/4-inch wood bit, splitting the piece into sections with a chisel and shaping.  Another type called the Neckerchief Lozenger is shown in the illustration and can be easily made.  Bone slides may be made from beef, veal and ham bones. Sections can be cut off with a hack saw and worked down with a file and decorated with designs in india ink or carved into totems.  A unique slide may be made from the spinal column of a sheep.  These may be worked up into shapes resembling Moose and Deer heads.  Sockets for the eyes may be drilled in and glass headed pins inserted in glue.  The slides may be painted and coated with shellac or left natural.

See Also: Totem Poles






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.