Whittling \ˈhwit-liŋ, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-iŋ, ˈwi-\ trans. verb.
a. to pare or cut off chips from the surface of (wood) with a knife.
b. to shape or form by so paring or cutting
c. One of those cool old school dude things that should totally come back into fashion.
Knife wielder Kyle Stetz offers some tips on the gentlemanly craft of yore: wood whittling.
Seems the trick is to get a really sharp, small knife for details, and just following the grain. See the how-to here.