Carving Buttons With: Sal Vitale

A few months ago, I saw some beautiful wood-carved buttons in a local yarn shop in Philly.  Their simple and rustic appearance caught my eye, and I thought that my dad, who is an expert woodworker, could recreate these with his own flare.  I sent him an email with some pictures to see if he’d be interested in this project, and he quickly set to work.

My dad sent me picture updates of his many buttons over the next few weeks.  (Each one took a couple of hours, and he often whittled as he watched a favorite television show.)  I was blown away by his designs and execution.  He began by finding very dry wood, and ultimately decided to use one of my Grandma Elisabeth’s unfinished pine walking sticks from many years ago.  The pine wood in our yard was too wet and sappy, but the maple wood for the oblong buttons worked just fine.

To create the flat pine buttons, my dad used a hand saw to cut the wood about 1/4″ thick.  I love that each button has its own unique shape and thickness — I wouldn’t change it for anything!  He then drilled four holes into the coins to create the buttons.  That fifth hole in the center of each button is actually a natural hole where water once traveled up the tree.

My dad whittled some of the pine coins to create rounded tops.  He cut the maple sticks longways and scooped out part of the center.  These oblong designs revealed two-tone wood when carved away, creating such beautiful buttons!

To finish off his project, my dad sanded the entire surface of each button, as I didn’t want any of the wood to catch on yarn for future projects.  He was sure to use a very light sand paper so that the natural beauty of the wood remained.  Finally, he used wood oil to complete his buttons, which gave them a finished, professional look.

I am so excited about these buttons and the story behind them.  I used one of them last week to finish a scarf I knit.  I’ll be sharing that project next week so that you can see these buttons in action!  I am so happy to have these as part of my knitting collection.  There is so much potential with hand-carved buttons in knitting — shapes, sizes, styles, etc.  What would your ideal button look like?

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8 thoughts on “Carving Buttons With: Sal Vitale

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