Math Monday: Whittling Links and Knots
APRIL 19, 2010

by George Hart


linked-heartsWhittling is a traditional technique for making one-of-a-kind objects that doesn’t get enough attention nowadays. A time-old method of demonstrating one’s whittling technique is to carve linked objects from a single piece of wood. The above step-by-step guide shows four stages in making a pair of linked hearts from a single block.
bjarne-2Bjarne Jespersen, a Danish carver with geometric interests, creates not just linked hearts, but intricate linkages of knots. The above image shows a beautifully symmetric 10-cm carving of four interlocked trefoil knots from a single piece of wood. The components are free to jiggle just slightly.
bjarne-3Even harder, here are six interlinked paths forming a tangle with dodecahedral symmetry. It has twelve five-fold openings like the one at the center of the image. Again, it is carved from a solid block, and the individual parts are just free to wiggle a bit.


This article first appeared on Make: Online, April 19, 2010.

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