Whittle Your Way to Powerful Ideas

by Brad Isaac on April 25, 2006

Here is a simple problem solving technique your grandfather probably used.  He likely did simple woodcarving as a way to think through problems and come up with solutions.  They used to call it "whittling on a problem."  Yet whittling is coming back as a great way to relax and ease stress. 

However, there is another side effect of whittling – great ideas!

Of course, whittling is simple to do. All you need is a knife and a block of soft wood. You will probably want to start with either balsa or basswood because hardwoods require more strength and accuracy and tend to cause your hands to hurt. 
Be sure to get a sharp carving knife.  There is an old saying: a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.

Come up with a general idea of what you want to carve. And then start cutting.  It is good form to always cut away from your body. You don’t want to risk stabbing or cutting yourself by pulling the blade to you.

As you carve into the wood, you will find your mind quietly drifting. You can use this time to either clear and de-clutter your head or you can solve a difficult problem.  Since your hands are busy, they will keep out of trouble. Since there are no flashing lights or virtual bells ringing, there is nothing to distract you.

There’s just wood, your knife and your mind. Make a pile of chips. Let your creative mind express itself.  The relaxed focus you get from wood carving is almost as deep as meditation.

So try whittling on your problem. Use it to increase your creativity and idea generation. Plus, when you are done, you’ll have a nice conversation piece you can enjoy for years to come.

Technorati Tags: woodcarving, whittling, relaxation, creativity

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April 26, 2006 at 6:59 pm

I like knitting for the same reason. It’s mindless enough to inspire the brain to fend for itself, and it keeps the hands occupied. Plus I end up with cute little knitted things! :)

April 26, 2006 at 7:50 pm


I thought about that after posting. Knitting and crocheting probably gives some great ideas too. :)

P.S. I checked out your blog. I hadn’t noticed the coComment service, that looks really cool. Trying it now

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