Woodcraft

posted in: Nature Immersion

We often receive inquiries about knives and carving. Mentors will be using knives, folding saws, hatchets, and other blade tools regularly for things like crafts, firewood, and shelter building. We’ll also be teaching the basics of knife safety to the entire group. It is always optional to bring or use a knife. If parents consent, and if a participant wants to use a knife, mentors will evaluate when and how this is appropriate taking into account age, spatial and physical awareness, prior experience, exposure to knife safety and other relevant factors on a case by case basis. Participants will always be supervised when using knives, and will only be allowed to carve if we feel they both understand knife safety and are able to implement it.

The basis of knife safety that will be taught and modeled are:

1 – Ask permission before taking out a knife
2 – Check for a safety circle (this means no one can be within arms reach)
3 – Do not carve towards yourself, wear a glove
4 – Close or sheath knives when not in use
5 – Sit while carving

These rules are strict. If we observe someone using a knife and not following one of these rules they may be given a warning, but depending on the severity they may immediately lose knife privileges for an amount of time. If a participant is unable to follow these guidelines they will not be given permission to carve.

Accidents do happen, and kids do occasionally get cuts. Personally, through many years of teaching knife skills to young people I have never seen a hospital visit or a need for stitches as a result of a knife wound, but the risk is there. Our hope is that they will learn how to use these tools safely and we do our best to create an environment and provide supervision that best supports them in learning knife skills. We encourage parents to reinforce these practices at home and engage children in using knives when possible whether it be in the kitchen or working with wood.

If you decide it’s not the best time for your child to learn to carve, we support that too. Having a conversation with them about it at home, and communicating that with us can help us answer any questions that come up during the program. There are plenty of crafts we present that do not involve using a knife and there will not be times when everyone will be carving and they would be left out. Often in groups some kids have no interest in carving and others will be very motivated to learn.

One option for gloves, which are required for carving are “cut resistant” gloves. These are available online and at some stores as an alternative to leather gloves.

Two knives we recommend are the Morakniv Rookie or My First Opinel No.07. These are both great knives to learn to carve with that are under $20 and will last a long time. Check out the packing list for other items we recommend bringing each day!

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