My son turned 8 recently and I thought it was the best time to buy him a knife as a birthday gift. For some reason, I believed he was going to love whittling and 8 seemed like the perfect age to introduce him to the skill (I genuinely hoped he was mature enough to handle a knife). A friend, who is a knife coinosseur, recommended an opinel. Opinel is a French company that has been in existence since 1890. They are quiet the knife artisans and make a variety of beautiful, functional and affordable knives. They have options that cost under $15. I picked a beautiful, rounded, tipped scout knife, with a locking ring and had my son’s name engraved on the body.
The kids’ knife is a comfortable size 7, so it was a great fit for my son’s little 8-year-old hands. The boys (I have another son, aged 10) are having a swell time with the knife. From excursions to the park to a trip to grandma’s, to a dinner party that went on well into the night, the knife has kept them engaged and entertained. While they have mostly busied themselves with making pointy sticks, they have also tried carving little soldiers, knights and stick figures! Once they whittled a true-to-life Harry Potter wand from a branch and I couldn’t have been prouder.
And so far, so good, there has been no record of injuries — not even a nick or a scrape! Along the way, I got envious and asked them to get me my own knife (with a pointy tip) for Mother’s day. I discovered that the tip is crucial to fine carving and for making holes. My 8-year-old has been extra-cautious with the pointed tip, that I think he didn’t even need the rounded tip as a starter.
Of course, we keep a watchful eye on the kids and occasionally have to remind them to direct the knife away from their body when cutting (more like, don’t brace the stick/wood against your leg). If you plan on towing the “whittling path” with your kids, I recommend getting them a good whittling book to aid their creativity and enhance their safety sense. For the boys, we got The Little Book of Whittling and it’s been a great resource.
Whittling experts say the best knives for woodwork are not folding knives but short, stubby, blades. However, I opted for folding knives for the boys as it’s easier to carry around. But if you want a fixed blade, the Mora knives from Sweden is a fine option. The knife pictured below is a Mora120 and it costs about $20.
My friend Nigel Shafran wins the award for best whittling idea. Nigel is an avid hiker and camper. He and his family spend many weeks a year driving around the UK and Europe looking for a nice camping spot. At the start of each journey, he picks a nice sized branch to use as a walking stick and carves a little into it every night. At the end of the trip he has a beautifully carved walking stick that is also a handmade memento of their vacation; a visual journal of their trip. Each stick is unique and the design made up on the spot. Almost makes me want to take up camping! We’ve got more exciting things to share on the blog, so read up!
POSTED IN: ENTERTAINING THEM · TAGGED: BIRTHDAY GIFT, BIRTHDAY GIFT IDEAS, KIDS’ GIFT, KNIFE, WHITTLING