Harmonica (Charles Bronson), the most badass whittler of wood to ever grace the big screen, stares daggers in Sergio Leone’s epic 1968 Spaghetti Western, Once Upon a Time in the West . It’s an all-time favorite of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese for a reason).
One thing about us Americans is that we’ve been whittling away ever since we’ve been able to get our hands on a sharp tool and some wood (i.e. since the country’s conception). It makes perfect sense as to why, too. After all, whittling is merely shorthand for the process of shaving slivers from a piece of wood. And, because whittling is entirely location independent, heck, you can partake in it just about anywhere (though, in our humble opinion, nothing beats a back porch at the end of the day) you damn well please.
No need to set up a sawhorse for this relaxing hobby. It’s carpentry on a small scale, something any and every Gallantry Man can take up no matter the time or place.
Folks these days engage in all kinds of activities to unwind, reflect, alleviate stress, or just plain ol’ be still in their leisure time, but we think whittling wood is an underrated method for all of the above. As a meditative, centering, calming, soothing, and dare we say therapeutic activity, all we can say is don’t knock whittling until you try it.
This great American pastime is the perfect antidote to popping endless pills and the countless other ways people treat their anxiety amidst the overload that is our modern era. And while we’re definitely no doctors here at Gallantry, we’ll be damned if a good whittling session doesn’t just restore the batteries and get us back to neutral.
“Can I please whittle wood with you?” – Crawl (Pauly Shore), Son-in-Law (1993)
“All right. Grab a piece of wood.” – Walter Warner, Sr. aka “Grandpa” (Mason Adams)
That’s a big piece of wood for whittling.
For a nice, casual, laid-back whittling session, a lightweight, everyday carry (translation: easy to carry) folding pocket knife really does the trick. Our favorite blade for those impromptu whittling sessions (you never know when the urge to whittle will strike) is a real winner, so we reckon you get your ready-to-whittle hands on one before they’re all gone.
Yes, we are in fact talking about the one and only...
DAMASCUS CHAPTER KNIFE FROM THE JAMES BRAND
Apparently, The James Brand has had a problem finding the ultimate knife to add to their everyday carry arsenal. So when this Portland-based bunch decided to make one, they went ahead and named it “The Chapter”. With a blade made from Damascus steel and a simple 6AL-4V titanium frame lock construction, this beauty of a perfect-for-whittling knife is lightweight, portable, easy to maintain, durable, and highly functional.
If you want a useful knife that will last you for a lifetime and then some, look no further.
- Damascus steel drop point straight blade
- 6AL-4V titanium frame lock construction
- 416 black oxide coated stainless steel hardware
- 2.81" blade length
- Corrosion resistant
- Reimagined take on single blade folder
Available in Damasteel/Titanium
The Chapter Knife
[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] Apparently, James Brand has had a problem finding the ultimate knife to add to their everyday carry arsenal. So the Portland-based crew decided to make one and they named it The Chapter. With a blade made from… read more
Now that you’ve got your knife, you might be asking yourself “Well? What about the wood?” While there’s nothing wrong with any old piece of wood or some random twigs and branches lying around, our go-to wood for whittling is a nice block of pre-cut basswood that we buy in bulk from the local lumber yard, woodworking shop, or even Hobby Lobby. In addition to being inexpensive and cutting easily, this soft wood has hardly any grain. This means that, unlike your typical knot-heavy hard woods, this nice, soft wood won’t give you a difficult time when you’re honestly just looking to git’ er done and your whittle on.
If you’re looking to take your whittling to the next level and add an additional component of craftsmanship to the endeavor, we suggest grabbing a specialized whittling knife with a fixed single blade (i.e. one that doesn’t fold). This type of EDC knife is definitely the move if you’re looking to get a get little bit more “artistic” with it, as it allows for an easier grip over an extended period of time, not to mention better leverage, in turn allowing for more precise control and pressure. Remember, the bigger the cut, the bigger knife blade you’re going to be looking for. As such, with its thick, nicely curved, ergonomically-designed handle, the specialty knife you’re going to want for those extra at-home whittling sessions, no surprise, also comes from The James Brand.
THE HELL GAP KNIFE FROM THE JAMES BRAND
It’s no secret that the outdoor enthusiasts at The James Brand have built a stellar reputation in a short amount of time by producing high-quality EDC pocket folders. The Hell Gap marks their first entry into fixed blade territory, and it’s the perfect cutting tool for adventure-savvy individuals. It has a CPM-S35VN 3.8-inch stainless steel modified drop point blade and a handsome Micarta handle. Made in the USA, this well-built minimalist survival knife is one that you can be proud of when you’re passing it down to the next generation.
- CPM-S35VN stainless steel
- Micarta handle
- Modified drop point blade
- Made in Meridian, Idaho
- 3.8” blade
- 7.8” total length
- 3.1 oz
Available in Black Micarta/Stainless, OD Green Micarta/Stainless
The Hell Gap Knife
[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] The outdoor enthusiasts at The James Brand have built a stellar reputation in a short amount of time by producing high-quality EDC pocket folders. The Hell Gap marks their first entry into fixed blade territory,… read more
Throw the Hell Gap Knife from The James Brand in its sleek accompanying box (then maybe even into a bag) and…BOOM! You’ve got yourself a sweet piece of everyday carry.
Come hell or high water, you can bet that a dull knife will dull a lot faster than a sharp one. You know what they say, right? Dull knife, dull whittle. However, with either of the aforementioned blades, this won’t be a problem for you. We just ask that you try to cut away from yourself until you get a little bit more comfortable with your whittling.
If safety is of particular importance to you, go right ahead and toss a thimble on your thumb, maybe wrap it in a little duct tape, or even throw a cut-resistant glove (Kevlar is the way to go) over your entire holding hand (we won’t tell Gramps, he might scoff). It all really just depends on what your whittling objective is. Are you looking to just whittle to whittle? Are you looking to make a tiny spear? How about a big one? Hey, the choice is all yours, Kemosabe.
So grab one (or both) of your fresh EDC knives, a piece of wood, and get your whittle on. A little carve here and there might even help you live longer!
In the meantime, we’ll be here just chilling while we whittle like our boy Harmonica.
The greatest whittling moment in the history of cinema.
Not only does this sweet flick capture the spirit of the American West (like only Leone could), but it also features a cool-as-a-cucumber protagonist, Harmonica, a mysterious sharpshooter that just likes to whittle himself some wood in his down time.
“What’s he doing?” – Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale)
“He’s whittling on a piece of wood. I got a feeling when he stops whittling, something’s gonna happen.” – Cheyenne (Jason Robards)
“I thought I told you not to interrupt me while I’m whittling. Now there’s gonna be a steep price to pay.” – Harmonica to ruthless assassin Frank (Henry Fonda)
By the way, if you’ve never seen West, go right on ahead and treat yourself. Ennio Morricone’s incredible score, easily one of the best in the history of film, will knock your socks off.