Picture of Soap Carving Canoe
Learning to carve and whittle soap is a great way to introduce knife safety and knife skills for kids grade 1-5.

Kids will use plastic knives for this introductory carving project. The canoe shape is familiar and simple, yet satisfying, and materials for retries are cheap and readily available.
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Step 1: Select Your Soap

Picture of Select Your Soap
Choose a solid soap. Ivory is the traditional choice, and is a nice combination of soft and firm.

Soaps from the Dollar store will often be dried out and brittle and discouraging for younger learners.

I like to buy a multipack so I know it's double sealed: individually wrapped bars, in a larger wrapper.

If the soaps are very fresh, you might want to unwrap them the night before the craft so they can dry out just a bit.

Step 2: Prepare Your Knives

Picture of Prepare Your Knives
This is a 'first steps' craft for young carvers, so save your fancy gouges and chisels for later. For this craft simple plastic picnic knives work well.

I like to run them quickly through the bench wheel grinder to remove the serrated edge, then clean up the melted plastic with a sharp knife.

You can get the same effect with more work and time with sandpaper. The goal is a smooth sharp non-serrated edge.

Don't worry, these are still sharp enough to cut soap. They can be sharp enough to cut the kids too, so a quick lesson on knife handling and safety is in order first.

Step 3: Draw Your Template

Picture of Draw Your Template
Lay your soap out on some graph paper. You want to maximize the size of your carving; bigger is easier for small hands, and soap is already pretty small.

I drew a simple canoe two ways, one making the canoe wide, and one tall. The tall canoe is easier for younger carvers: grades 1-3.

Be sure to do a vertical and horizontal outline, and make sure your dimensions match up for each.