Meet a master whittler

The art of whittling is fading.

In days gone-by, whittling was very much a part of everyday life. Cowboys whittled around the campfire. Old men whittled while out front of the corner store. Whittling was a skill taught to Boy Scouts. Knife companies sponsored whittling contests and produced “How to Whittle” pamphlets to keep folks scraping wood with their knives. There were even whittling classes taught after the Great Depression- government sponsored classes. And as a part of the pubic works program, the gov actually paid folks to whittle.

In case, you missed how we got to this point, over the last few weeks we have looked specifically at how times have changed and how boys (and adults) no longer whittle as a hobby or pastime. Now there are other recreations used to entertain and occupy our time. Then we talked about boys not carrying pocket knives like they used to.

Donald Mertz

Donald Mertz

With this as the backdrop, I’m excited to report I met a professional whittler. The minute I met him I knew I had to record our encounter. His name is Donald Mertz- He is a master whittler. Listen in on my conversation with Don about his life and his craft.

How long have you been whittling?

Ever since childhood, I am sixty seven now, so at least sixty years.”

Is there a difference between whittling and carving? If so, how would you describe them.

“Whittling is the art of shaping a hand held piece of wood in one hand and a knife in the other removing wood chips in a slicing action. It could be as simple as drawing the knife blade in a slicing action down the length of a piece of wood to create a thin, curling shaving the entire length of the wood. (more…)

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 8:25 am  Comments (10)  
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