Operation Metaknife: Learn Knife Skills and Whittle a Letter Opener

 Thanks for coming by, and for investing in your kids. If you are new here you should check out our getting started page which gives you all the details of our mission here at Journey to Men.  Also if you haven’t already signed up for the mailing list you will get the first three missions in a printable format for your cadets.

Parental Guidance

Yes, knives can be dangerous. Age ranges here are at your discretion, the author’s boys were ages 11 and 13 when they completed this mission, but they’d been using knives since they were 8. It might absolutely be in your best interest to supervise their initial knife usage to make sure they are doing it safely. Before they even start carving, they should read through the mission and the special addendum on the knife.

Operation Metaknife: Learn Knife Skills and Whittle a Letter Opener

MISSION BRIEF: Your mission is to familiarize yourself with your everyday carry tool and to use it to whittle a wood knife letter opener or similar project.

EQUIPMENT:Pocket knife, wood from branches, mission notebook, sandpaper (optional). A knife that’s perfect for your cadet is the Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife.

MISSION DETAILS:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your pocket knife: https://journeytomen.com/knife
  2. Review the above picture of your project. Note that the handle still has the bark on it except for some additional rings for visual appearance. There is also a carved area of the handle that can also be personalized with a name or date or saying.
  3. Select the wood for your project. Good places to look are around your home, at your neighbors, at your grandparents or most anywhere there are trees. If it’s not your property be sure to ask permission before taking the wood, and it’s best to use some fallen branches about the thickness of your thumb or slightly bigger. You want a branch without a lot of moss or dirt on it. In some cases you may be able to prune some wood from a living tree using your Swiss Army saw blade.

    What types of wood are suitable for whittling? Most any are worth a shot, different parts of the country and world have different local trees so something like alders, maples, pines, apple, flowing plum, birch, oak and even some types of shrub material will work as well. It doesn’t hurt to experiment, find a branch and give it a try.

  4. Plan out your whittling project, it may make sense to sketch your design in your notebook ahead of time. You can draw in full size to get an idea if your knife looks right. There are no wrong answers here, let your imagination go. What are some other knives you’ve seen? Would they work for your branch carving?
  5. Begin whittling your project. You can carve it in any order you want, this is your mission, you set the rules. The best blade for your carving work, if you are using a swiss army knife, is your small blade. It is plenty big for the job but lets you do more detail work without problems. Take your time, whittling should be an enjoyable way to pass the time and use your creative side.
  6. Finish your carving by sanding the blade and lightly sanding the handle. This is an optional step if you are happy with the rough look of your letter opener then perfect. Otherwise, you can start with some 120 grit sandpaper on the blade and then finish it off with a 220 grit sandpaper to really get it smooth.
  7. Clean up your work area and remove all chips.

MISSION PARAMETERS:
YYour primary mission is to get comfortable with the pocket knife that you should have on you at all times. Ok, not when you are showering, sleeping or at school but every other time.
MISSION VALUE:
+1000 MAN POINTS FOR A WELL WHITTLED LETTER OPENER
+100 MAN POINTS FOR A SPOT INSPECTION BY YOUR C.O. FINDING YOU CARRYING YOUR KNIFE
-250 MAN POINTS FOR LEAVING A MESSY WORK AREA