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is the art of carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object...
shapes typically out of raw wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...
with a knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...
Whittling is typically performed with a light, small-bladed knife, usually a pocket knife
A pocket knife is a folding knife with one or more blades that fit inside the handle that can still fit in a pocket. It is also known as a jackknife or jack-knife...
. Specialised whittling knives are available as well. They have thick handles which are easier to grip for long periods allowing precise control and pressure.
Occasionally the terms "whittling" and "carving" are used interchangeably, but they are different arts. Carving employs the use of chisel
A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge of blade on its end, for carving or cutting a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal. The handle and blade of some types of chisel are made of metal or wood with a sharp edge in it.In use, the chisel is forced into the material...
s, gouges, and a mallet
A mallet is a kind of hammer, usually of rubber,or sometimes wood smaller than a maul or beetle and usually with a relatively large head.-Tools:Tool mallets come in different types, the most common of which are:...
, while whittling involves only the use of a knife. These days whittling is mainly a hobby and not a living as it used to be before carving machines were invented.
It is a custom that has been practiced worldwide for centuries. Some communities still hold whittling festivals and competitions.