Every night he was busy, working on a large piece of board and two small pieces . . . He made the tiniest shavings, cutting very slowly and carefully, making whatever he thought would be pretty. At last he had the pieces finished and one night he fitted them together. When this was done, the large piece was a beautifully carved back for a smooth little shelf across its middle. The large star was at the very top of it. The curved piece supported the shelf underneath, and it was carved beautifully, too. -Chapter 4
Now we find Pa doing some crafting of his own, and here I hit a roadblock. As I don't have to hunt game to feed my family, I have never felt the need to make bullets, and though whittling intrigues me, I don't currently own an appropriate knife, much less a whetstone and strop to keep a knife sharp enough for such an undertaking.
I suggested to my brother, a fellow fan of the Little House franchise, that he might venture to try these crafts (and send me some pictures), but in the meantime, here are some links:
This website claims you can have free bullets for life if you start making your own.
The Art of Manliness has an article on getting started with whittling that implies it could be the new yoga.
Our Little Corner found a kid-friendly way to do some carving by using Ivory soap. Reading about it gave me a powerful sense-memory of carving soap, just the smell and the texture of the soap as it flaked. It took me a while to connect those memories with what I was actually making and why - they were 'arrowheads,' and we were learning about Native Americans. I had entirely forgotten about having done that until I read that article.
I was disappointed that I wasn't able to find any examples online of anyone trying to recreate the bracket that was so intricately described in the book. I suppose that whittling isn't an especially popular hobby among the typical Little House fan, but surely someone got creative with the scroll saw? Oddly enough, the magic word was 'whatnot.' Pa may not have heard the term until Mrs. Boast explained it four books later, but he and Uncle Henry had the same concept in mind that would make whatnots "all the rage in Iowa", the Victorian love of bricabrac.