How to Whittle a Pan Flute

Whittler Rick Weibe teaches how to choose the proper pocket knife and how to whittle a pan flute.


| December 13, 2012


One of the signature projects whittlers enjoy working on is the whistle, and Whittlin’ Whistles (Linden Publishing, 2012) addresses each and every detail of successful whistle making. Designed to be understandable to both younger readers and adult beginners, the book features numerous full-color instructional photos for each project and provides a strong emphasis on safety and tool care. Discover the basics of selecting the right pocket knife and learn how to whittle a pan flute in this excerpt from Chapter 1, “Whittlin’” and Chapter 5, “Tube Whistles Without a Fipple.” 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Whittlin’ Whistles. 

Whittlin' (I know, the "right" way to say and spell it is "whittling", but somehow "whittlin'" just seems more appropriate), is what we call carving when the only, or at least the main, tool that is used is a knife.

Some modern adults freak out a bit when the word "knife" or "sharp" is used, and their children are going to be involved. However, whittlin' is far safer than activities that kids do all the time. Yes, it is possible, even likely, that a whittler will cut themselves, but the injury will be minor compared to the kind of thing that can happen while say skiing, or cycling or swimming. I am unaware of anyone who has ever needed a lifeguard while whittlin'! No one has ever broken a bone in my class either.

Mostly when we say "knife" in conjunction with whittlin', we mean a pocket knife. And what a wonderful device that is! It is practically a magic wand. With a pocket knife ordinary sticks can be transformed into wonderful and useful things. A pocket knife folds up and is safe in a pocket when it isn't in use, but is there when a whittlin' fit strikes. These fits strike me quite a lot, and if I didn't have my knife with me I would be very frustrated.

It is important to have a good knife. A good knife will not be cheap. Pay the price. Call it an investment in mental health, because poor tools will drive you nuts! This is not to say the knife has to be really expensive. Knives that are excellent for the projects in this book are available for $25 or so.





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