Carving with a Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife was made out of necessity (the first models included just a blade, can opener and reamer, and screw driver for assembling the Swiss Army’s rifles), but its lasting power proves its unwavering utility.

When master woodcarver Chris Lubkemann received a Swiss Army Knife as a gift he quickly discovered the many objects he could whittle using only this hand-held tool. From that point on he was smitten and never looked back. “I thought, this thing really works!” says Lubkemann. “For the last 25 years I’ve only used a Swiss Army Knife in my whittling.”

In his book Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Book of Whittling: 43 Easy Projects, Lubkemann offers many easy-to-follow carving projects. Here’s an example of a few of the projects.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Whittling Book, Gift Edition

With this pocket-sized guidebook and your favorite Victorinox® Swiss Army Knife, you’ll be ready to whittle wherever you go.

For many, many years my go-to knife has been one or another model of the Victorinox Swiss Army knives.

~ Chris Lubkemann

1. Knife

The knife is a great project to start with; it will get you familiar with your pocketknife and the basic cutting strokes. Naturally, the size of the knife will depend on the piece of wood you start with. Half of a little round toothpick will make for a perfect Bowie knife for Polly Pocket! (Don’t throw away the other half! It can turn into a flower, complete with petals, stem, and leaves.) While a knife carved from wood will certainly not serve for all uses that a steel knife does, it still can be very useful, especially as a letter opener. And it definitely can be carved and finished in such a way that it becomes a beautiful piece of art.

Author and master wood carver Chris Lubkemann

2. Rooster

The majority of Chris’ whittled critters are roosters of all shapes and sizes. He’s often asked, “Why so many roosters?” There are several simple and practical reasons. The rooster is perhaps the only bird that walks around with its tail up. Roosters are also popular worldwide, and it seems folks everywhere appreciate them. Finally, you will learn most of the basic cuts and techniques that will be used in other projects when you carve a rooster. Once you have the rooster-carving technique down, it’s not that hard to switch over to herons, roadrunners, and a whole pile of other critters and projects.

3. Table Art

Have you ever stumbled across a chunk of found wood that just screams to be plunked down in the middle of a coffee table? In your searches for nifty pieces of wood, you might find something that is just plain cool all by itself. In that case, you can clean it up and let it speak for itself! Just clean up the wood using water and a scrub brush until all of the dirt is removed. Cut the branches until you’ve shaped the tangle of braches in a way that is pleasing to you. Sand the sawn faces of the branches. Finish as desired.

4. Necklaces

Twigs and branches exist in all kinds of sizes, colors, bark, textures, and grain patterns. By cutting various-sliced slices from different species of wood, or even from different-sized wood of the same species, you can make a good variety of natural wood beads. By stringing them together, you can come up with a very attractive and unique necklace.

5. Coasters

The basic idea of a coaster is to provide a flat, stable surface for a glass, cup, or mug that will protect the table surface from heat or liquid damage (or both). These coasters are extremely simple to make and will fulfill their intended purpose, but at the same time, they’re a bit out of the ordinary—they’re original pieces of useful decoration. Different species of wood will produce a broad variety of cross-grain patterns and colors. These will especially stand out when the sliced pieces of wood are well sanded.

Other Titles from Chris Lubkemann

Tree Craft - 35 rustic projects that bring the outdoors in

Tree Craft

Invite Mother Nature into your home with 35 rustic projects that are both unique and functional.

The Little Book of Whittling

The Little Book of Whittling

18 fun and easy projects include knives, forks, birds, animals, trees, flowers, and more.

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For more projects, check out Chris Lubkemann’s book

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Book of Whittling: 43 Easy Projects or visit him online at

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Whittling Book, Gift Edition by Chris Lubkemann is a great book of unique whittling designs and plans. I was impressed with the creativity of many of the designs, and with the different varieties of Swiss Army knives.

Amy Matheney

Clermont County Public Library

Great book! I liked the quick history of Victorinox and the pictures. He was conversational and easy to follow.

Holly Priestley

Ouachita Parish Public Library