The Untimely Demise of Whittlin' Jack

Several readers wrote regarding the article “Best $20 I Ever Spent” in our August issue. The good news is that the Prybar/Scraper is also a common tool among beekeepers, used for prying off the tops of sticky hives. The bad news is that the “Original Whittlin’ Jack” knife I use for marking is no longer available. The source mentioned in the magazine no longer carries it, and apparently production has ceased, and no one has new ones available. That’s a shame because it’s a nice knife, and it was inexpensive. When laying out joints, my chisel or saw will “fall” into a knife line. It’s a lot easier than trying to match a cutting tool to a pencil line.

In searching for another source, I came upon some curious bits of history, and found some reasonable alternatives. The company that made the knife, United Cutlery changed their corporate direction a few years ago, and now concentrates on “collectible” knives and swords tied in to corporate logos and movies. The company still makes some knives with the Whittlin’ Jack name and the Stanley logo. They are sold in sets that only cost about $25 for four knives, but I have no idea about their quality. Many of them are a curious mix of a knife handle and a carving gouge blade. A couple of the shapes could be made to work as a marking knife, but I found some better alternatives.

    It would be too easy to send you in search of a $30 or $40 knife, but the Whittlin’ Jack’s low price is a great part of its appeal. With that in mind, I found some chip-carving knives that are quite similar and stay with the frugal theme.

Diefenbacher Tools, Traditional Woodworker and Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers Supply  all had similar knives for about $10 that were quite similar to the knife in the article. Maybe the good thing is that my cheap old knife is now a “valuable collectible”

, Bob Lang

2 thoughts on “The Untimely Demise of Whittlin' Jack

  1. woodNfish

    You can find short bladed whittling knives at most craft stores now. They sell for around $6 and look similar to what is in the hand of the person in the photo. Or, you can make your own knife by grinding down and putting an edge and handle on a hacksaw blade.

    woodNfish

  2. Mark

    I’ve seen a marking knife very similar to that one at Homestead Heritage (a woodworking school in Waco, Texas). I know that they sell them there, and I’m pretty sure it is for more that $10, but it might still fall in the "under $20" category. You might want to check it out.

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