There are people who have difficulty staying still for long periods of time, and they are usually good at finding something to do. Some of them are the types who enjoy cleaning and organizing things, and they are often welcome in many places. There are people who believe that is too forward or they do not care to clean, but they want to stay busy. These are the people who find simple hand crafts suit them, and whittlers are among this group.
Shaving thin slices of wood is a basic definition of whittling, and it describes this folk craft perfectly. The object of it is not to create a piece of art work, so there are no real requirements to know the fundamentals. It is a way for many people to keep their hands busy while the time passes, and some of them simply whittle away at a piece of wood until it is gone. Others are more adventurous, and they create art during their downtime.
There are no hard rules about what type of knife needs to be used for whittling, and even a sharp edged object is acceptable. Many people use pocket knives because they carry them, but even a craft knife or razor blade can be used. The goal is to just keep the hands busy, so it is okay to use whatever is convenient.
There have been many people who have found a love of wood carving while whittling, and they have the opportunity to create art. They might find it becomes an obsession, and exploring their art with new and different tools might bring them even more pleasure. For those who discover they have no passion to learn more, it is a way to make kindling, create interesting shapes or turn a few empty hours into a time of relaxation.