by E. J. Tangerman
Whittling is something that most people don't do anymore. Along with porches, even the concept of a kid or adult fooling around with a knife is something that just isn't a common as it used to be or should be. I owe my hand skills to playing with a knife as a kid and as an adult whittling is a hobby that this book reminds me I put mistakenly aside. All you need to carve is a pocketknife and some wood. These days with X-Acto knives readily available one doesn't even need to make the commitment to sharpening equipment to be able to make cool stuff easily.
Originally published in 1936, this book was reprinted by Dover in 1962 and has been a favorite ever since. E.J. Tangerman brings this simple craft to a high art. Simple, clear, step by step instructions on making a wooden chain from one piece of wood is just one of the many projects clearly described. Tangerman goes through all the basic whittling steps from chains to ball in a cage. Wooden fans, pliers, and scissors, all from a single piece of wood. Then he expands the world to include woodcarving, soapcarving, and other knife skills such as cutting alphabets and basic inlay technique. The book opens with a chapter on wood and closes with a chapter on finishing. I can't think of a better book on whittling and the carving instructions, while basic, are more than enough to get you started. By way of endorsement I should mention that this is the first book on woodwork I ever owned and I still refer to its well thumbed pages after thirty years. One thing I truly enjoy is that the book is profusely illustrated with examples of great work. In addition to the simpler projects for mere mortals to practice on every chapter gives glorious examples of prize winning whittle and carving. One thing I find particularly inspiring is that most of the carving examples are taken from works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (medieval section). Periodically I have wandered the halls looking for and finding the examples in the book. I am not skilled enough to ever become a master carving but it is inspiring to see what can be done. The long-term appeal for me has always been that the book starts out addressing beginners but has enough detail and technique to challenge even an experienced woodworker. 464 illustrations, with apprendix and index. 293 pages. 5 1/2" x 8 1/8" , softcover.