Chain Whittler (Aug, 1950)

Chain Whittler is A.E. Powell, over 60 years old and a retired Colonel of the British Royal Engineers. Each link is whittled from a single piece of oak, birch, apple wood or mahogany with a small non-folding knife. “Never cut myself,” he says.

  1. Stannous says: January 17, 20085:58 pm

    This is pretty amazing. Take a board and carve it into links, think about it.

    I especially like the Escher-like four link piece in the foreground.

  2. Chakolate says: January 17, 20088:59 pm

    I suspect it’s a mistake to refer to each ‘link’ being made of a single piece of wood. They should have said that each *chain* was made from a single piece.

    My dad made a much smaller wooden chain for me when I was a child. It takes careful whittling to make a chain – one false move and you have to start all over. Or you bleed a lot. 😉

    Interestingly, the resulting chain can be much longer than the piece of wood it was carved from.

  3. Justin says: January 19, 20084:15 pm

    A store near me, owned by an old craftsman, had a large wooden chain and other carvings along one wall. The chain must have been 30 feet long. I asked the man about it, and he said he carved the links seperately, and then cracked every other link in two by hand. This broke the link along the grain, without losing any material, so it could be glued back together perfectly. Before he said that I thought it must have been carved with the links linked…

    So, this guy in the article may have worked harder or smarter … either way, the end product is like a brain teaser when you see it in person.

  4. Henry says: October 11, 20084:23 am


    To the last comment, I’m not sure that saying “this guy in the article may have worked harder or smarter”.
    If the “smarter” is referring to the use of glue, then it’s not smarter, it just takes less skill, still a lot of skill,
    just less than it does to make a wooden chain without glue.

  5. George says: November 23, 20085:42 pm

    I have a wooden log chain, 12′-0″ long w/ hooks.If the links and or hooks have been cracked and glued, what a job. It’s a great piece. Looking for another if anyone knows anyone that still carves them

  6. Bob says: January 23, 20099:48 am

    Looking at this still amazes me. Even though I’ve been doing this myself for about nineteen years, I’ve always apreciated other peoples work. I never break my own on pupose. In fact, I concider that cheating. I don’t think I would go through all the extra work of breaking and glueing links when you get more satisfaction out of carving it all out of one piece of wood. Smarter or harder? Don’t buy into that. No one ever built any charecter by working smarter. It’s heard work that feeds the soul. It is genuinly fullfilling just to know, your self, that you did this work with your heart not your mind. If a person was to do this work with his mind alone, he would go crazy. Your heart and soul can see many more possibilites than your mind ever will. When you realize this, you will find that nothing is impossible.

  7. Dan says: February 5, 200912:56 am

    I have a chain my great grandfather whittled for my dad when he was a kid. His name and the year (1937) appear on one of the links. It’s incredibly intricate, with moveable balls in wood cages, etc. Story goes he made them out of an old broomstick.

  8. Alex Kimble says: March 27, 200911:43 am

    I started carving wood chains about a year ago and I find it very relaxing and rewarding. Its really pretty easy to do a chain of three or four links. Go out to the lumber store and buy basswood and get started!

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