Penknife Carving Projects and Techniques

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Conceived as far back as the Iron Age, compact folding knives have proven to be indispensable personal possessions, taking on a wide range of forms over centuries of use. Whomever it is carried by and however it is used, this simple, lightweight device has become a popular resource for occupation and hobby alike.
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In “50 Things to Do with a Penknife”, by Matt Collins, he provides an introductory guide to carving many functional and rudimentary items, as well as a handful of more challenging whittling projects. While convenience and versatility make a penknife suitably industrious for survival in extreme conditions, they also make the perfect instrument for more recreational applications.

In 50 Things to Do with a Penknife (Princeton Architectural Press) by Matt Collins, a horticultural consultant at the Garden Museum in London, showcases a practical guide for whittling with a penknife. Matt combines craftsmanship with savvy survival-skill projects that encompass a range of skills levels. Each project is accompanied by detailed step-by-step illustrations, making his book ideal for the creative adventurer.

Matt Collins invites adventurers, hobbyist and wood workers to explore the many uses of the indispensable penknife in his book 50 Things to Do with a Penknife. The hinged blade and protective handle make penknives a universal and portable tool that can be used on an array of unique projects that connect you closer to nature. Matt’s techniques encompass a wide range of skill levels, so you can find fun and relaxing projects to hone your whittling and carving skills no matter your experience. 

Here are projects from 50 Things to Do with a Penknife to get you started:

How to Carve a Willow Whistle with a Penknife
How to Carve a Fish Hook with a Penknife


This excerpt is reprinted with permission from 50 Things to Do with a Penknifeby Matt Collins, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2017.