Whittling offers a crafty way to relax, but aimless whittling often nets nothing more than sharpened sticks. Instead of just seeing what shows up as you whittle, plan a creation you'll actually enjoy, such as a carved walking stick or a ball in a cage.
If you're fairly new to whittling, a few key supplies help ensure your success -- and safety. Select a soft wood such as pine or basswood, or experiment with a few twigs or branches from around the yard.
The softer the wood, the easier it is to whittle into the desired shape. A sharp pocket knife or whittling knife does all the cutting.
Protect your cutting hand with a Kevlar glove or a carving thumb guard to help prevent accidental injury.
If this is one of your first whittling projects, start with something basic -- yet still interesting -- to get used to different whittling techniques.
Whittling an egg shape out of a hunk of wood helps hone your skills at smoothing a carved item with your knife. For a more complex egg, carve designs into it such as chevrons or stripes, carving the designs fairly deep for yet another look.
Carve a series of forest animals, vegetables or even your favorite video game characters to learn the basics while still ending with a carved keepsake.
A [ball in a cage](http://www4gvsuedu/triert/cache/articles/t2/bichtm) is a classic whittling project that looks complex, yet isn't so difficult to complete.
- Draw a basic frame shape around the four sides of a block of wood using a pencil and a ruler; make the frame thick enough that it won't crack if you accidentally hit it hard as you whittle.
- Mark off the center area as the ball; then slice away a shallow area at a time around the ball, inside the frame lines.
- As you work your way in, start shaping the ball. Keep the ball connected to the frame to form a hovering ball look.
- For a few variations, shape more than one ball in the cage, or carve the frame with details such as a spiral design.