A skilled carver needs the right carving knife to handle various opportunities. You can make full-sized carving items to plaques that are smaller. For all of these whittling outcomes, it’s important to have the right whittling or wood carving knife. This essential tool is found in almost every carver’s collection. Our guide is going to help you choose the right whittling and carving knives to meet your needs.
A whittling or wood carving knife is useful and can take on different purposes, such as whittling, carving, detailing, letter carving, spoon carving, or chip carving. These carving knives are available with many blade shape options, and each one is made for a particular purpose.
Selecting the right whittling or wood carving knife is important, and there are many things to consider. This includes the carving work you’re doing and the blade type. We’re going to talk about the best whittling and wood carving tools and their features.
To find the best wood carving knife or whittling knife, you must focus on quality and how it is made. A detail knife set is often amazing and can be extremely affordable. Consider how durable the material is, and make sure it’s suitable for woodworking.
Best Wood Carving Knives for 2023
Having the right whittling knives is essential when wood carving. You must ensure that the knife is durable and made of quality material. Many times, you can find the best wood carving knife by checking the features, but you also want to make sure it’s comfortable in your hand. Let’s check out the top set options.
BeaverCraft Wood Carving Hook Knife SK1: Best Spoon Carving Knife
The BeaverCraft brand is highly popular for wood carving and whittling. In fact, you can use it for wood carving spoons, carving concave shapes, and green woodworking. This tool has a blade made of high-carbon steel, so it might be the best option out there.
You’re going to find that this wood carving and whittling knife uses carbon steel for better quality. It also features a razor-sharp blade as it comes out of the box. We feel that it is suitable for cutting various hardwoods and softwoods. Durability isn’t a concern here because the handle is made of oak and is oiled with natural linseed oil. Ultimately, this hook wood carving or whittling knife has an ergonomic design and is comfortable when wood carving for long periods.
Morakniv Wood Carving Hook knife: Best for Relief Carving
The Morakniv wood carving knife features everything you need for detailing wood, but it also works for spoon carving and whittling. We like the Mora wood on this knife for wood carving and whittling because there’s a single-edge blade that uses high-carbon steel. In fact, carbon steel is the top choice because it’s more durable and strong. While laminated steel is another great choice for wood carving, it’s not the same.
Wood carving and whittling aren’t going to get any easier with this knife, which is why we think it could be the best. The Morakniv brand is made to pull cuts with your right hand. Plus, the handle is going to feel comfortable in your hand for a long time.
This detail knife from Morakniv is very high-quality and made to last a long time. When wood carving and whittling, you want an excellent blade, and this one has it. Plus, there’s an oiled birch wood handle. While there’s no sheath on the Morakniv version, this hook knife is perfect for wood carving. Plus, the length of the knife is 6.3 inches.
Flexcut Chip Carving Knife: Best for Chip Wood Carving
Those who need the best wood carving tools are sure to appreciate this carving knife. It’s designed for wood carving and whittling and has a flexible blade that’s razor-sharp. You get more control over your wood carving cuts. The blade is made with high-carbon steel. In fact, carbon steel is a better choice than laminated steel because that lets the knife follow the contour of the carving. This means you don’t require traditional tools to finish the profile.
This steel can also add more edge retention because the shaft is hardened to be like a spring. Wood carving and whittling are easier with this knife. Plus, it features an ash handle with an ergonomic design. As a detail knife, you can’t beat it.
Quality and durability are essential, and this knife has it all. Plus, it fits in your hand well and has a great price.
Morakniv Carving Junior 73/164 Knife: Best for Kids Wood Carving
When you want the best knife for wood carving and whittling, you need to consider Morakniv. It is a Swedish knife for wood carving, but it’s small and suitable for kids. If you’re a beginner, don’t delay! You want this knife for wood carving.
The Morakniv features a thin high-carbon steel blade with an oiled birch handle. We feel that high-carbon steel is a great choice, especially when compared to laminated steel. You’re going to appreciate that the Morakniv is only 0.13 pounds. Plus, the length of its blade is just 3 inches, with the handle being 4.25 inches.
There is a truly sharp blade, so this knife was specifically designed for wood carving and can also be used for whittling. When you want a knife that is durable and high-quality, you can’t beat the features of Morakniv. It’s made to fit in your hand, and it comes with a sheath. Wood carving is much safer for your kids with a Morakniv knife.
Flexcut Pocket Jack: Best Overall Wood Carving Knife
Everyone likes the Pocket Jack Knife, and it could be the best wood carving knife and whittling knife out there. This knife is like a multi-tool for wood carving, but it also has a higher cost than some of the others. Still, if quality is what you crave, you are going to love this knife.
There are four blades to fill the needs of woodworkers and carvers everywhere. The blades range in size from the 1-5/8-inch to the 1-inch to the 1-1/16-inch. You’re going to appreciate the high carbon steel design. In fact, we feel that high carbon steel is more suitable than laminated steel when wood carving.
Sarge Knives SK-10N Vision Maker Carving Knife: Best for Detail and Chip Wood Carving
Those who want the best wood carving knife and are on a budget should consider this detail knife from Sarge Knives. It’s ideal for woodworking, and it’s also a multi-tool knife that works for wood carving.
You’re going to find that it offers two high-carbon steel blades. Since high carbon steel is generally a better quality than laminated steel, you are going to be impressed. Each blade of the knife measures 1.25 inches long. One of the blades is a chip blade, which is perfect for wood carving. When you close the knife, it’s only 3.5 inches long.
One of the features we like most is that the knife stays sharp because the blades are tucked inside. It’s made for durability, and the handle is ergonomic and fits in your hand easily. Wood carving has gotten a lot easier with this knife.
Anatomy of the Wood Carving or Whittling Knife
Woodcarving and whittling require a top-quality knife that’s durable and strong. There are many terms that you might not understand when it comes to the knife. Therefore, it’s important to learn them now so that you can focus more on the features from the blades and handle.
A carving knife features two parts – the blade and handle. They often include other aspects:
- Sweep – This is the straight or curved shape you see at the edge of the blade. From there, the blade is beveled on one or both sides. Typically, you get a straight sweep when it’s on both sides, which is ideal for whittling and wood carving.
- Grind – This is the shape of the cross-section for the blade, determining sharpness and performance levels.
- Neck – This is where the blade’s the narrowest before it is made to taper to the handle.
- Bolster – To form this, the blade flashes from the neck to the handle. It joints both of them together and ensures balance from the knife to protect your hand.
- Scales – This refers to the material and how it can form the handle on both sides of the tang.
- Tang – It’s an invisible rod inside to extend into the handle to give more support.
- Rivets – These defend the scales on the knife
- Butt – This is the handle end of the knife.
- Tip – This is the upper portion of the blades with the point.
Carving Style and Appropriate Wood for Wood Carving
When it comes to the knife you choose for whittling, it really boils down to what you’re carving and how you want to do it. These two factors can vary between people, so there are various types of wood carving knives on the market to assist.
The knife must be made of high quality and focus on durability. Sharpening is also a concern because you always want to carve with a sharp knife. Though the style is another factor, it falls behind the others when whittling wood.
Hand Carving and Whittling
Sometimes, called roughing knives, a whittling knife is what most people start on when wood carving. They are generally the best for whittling and wood carving and use a special technique. Here, you can carve preferred shapes or objects with a single knife or many knives to get the best of both worlds.
Typically, you want the blade to fold in, but sometimes, you can find a fixed blade that locks in place. When whittling, this is the best choice. A blade with a lock is often safer to use, especially when cutting wood with a knife for the first time.
Wood carving tools like this have to be durable and made for quality. You’re going to be roughing the wood with your hand and the knife, so you want it to be practical and safe.
A roughing knife is ideal for whittling, and there are many options available to cover different tasks. We like the Old Timer Knife and BeaverCraft Carving Knife.
Chip carving is much different than whittling, so you need the right knives to handle the work. This is almost like relief cutting where you discard the symmetrical and small pieces out of the wood. You can see amazing results and various complex patterns when you use these knives.
Such wood carving tools must be high-quality and durable. The best knives are often different from those used to make figurines. However, chip carving blades come sharp right out of the box. You can find a set of tools with different blade lengths and styles. This is often best when whittling and wood carving various patterns in one project.
Typically, the blade is like a small chisel, so it could be good for whittling, but that’s not the ultimate goal of the knife.
Relief Wood Carving
Relief wood carving focuses on drawing images in the wood, but these knives can also be used to make spoons and other items.
Most of these wood carving tools aren’t suitable for whittling. They are best for cutting wood at various angles. You want to have a durable blade, and quality is a concern here. Typically, you can get almost any shape you prefer, but it can take time to learn the trade.
To keep the set in perfect shape, you should sharpen the knives regularly.
Wood Carving Wood Options
You can use almost any wood for carving as a profession or hobby, but it makes more sense to choose the best wood for the woodworking projects you want to make.
Therefore, you should consider the knives you want to use, but you also have to think about the wood.
Softwood is what most of the timber is made of, and there are various species used, such as pine, fir, and conifers. We feel that a beginner may find it best to work with these because whittling is easier than with hardwood. However, as you become better, you may want to go with a different wood type. It depends on your preference and project. Here are a few options to consider:
- Basswood – With a density of 0.3 to 0.6, this fine-grain wood is easy to carve and ideal for whittling. It’s easy on the hand, but it also glues down well.
- Butternut – This wood style has a 0.38 density and looks golden brown. We like the unique pattern. You may use it for whittling, but it’s ideal for making furniture.
- Soft Pine – With a density of 0.42, this wood option is yellow with a visible grain. It’s affordable and ideal for whittling and learning.
Recommended Tools and Wood Carving Projects
Typically, hand-held tools are recommended for softwoods because there’s less force required and resistance given. Therefore, you may want a good knife, mallet, gouges, and chisels. It’s ideal to find a set of wood carving tools because they are going to include everything you need, such as different knife options and more. You can use these tools for whittling. The set is sure to have most of the knives required, and they fit in your hand comfortably.
Hardwoods are harder and denser than softwood, but there are some exceptions. Typically, they work well for craft projects and whittling. Here are some recommended hardwoods for wood carving:
- African Mahogany – This option has a 0.53 density and offers a red tone that darkens with time. You can use it for furniture and whittling if you’re more advanced.
- Walnut – With a density of 0.65 to 0.7, this reddish-brown wood changes to white. We like the coarse grain, which is perfect for various furniture.
- Oak – It’s used for flooring and has a red color.
Recommended Tools and Wood Carving Projects
Whether or not you use hardwood for whittling, you need the right knives to get the job done. We recommend power tools and mallets here. However, you can also use a hand-held knife, some chisels, and gouges. Those who want power tools should consider a set of rotary attachments.
These tools often come as a set and can help with any woodworking project.
More information about wood for carving can be found on the post: Best Wood for Carving
What to Consider for Your Best Wood Carving Knife
When you’re interested in the best whittling knife out there, you must know the basics. Each knife has different features, such as the blade options, durability concerns, and quality. Regardless of the material you’re using, you must consider the woodworking project. On top of that, blade sharpening is a big concern. The knife is going to get dull, and you need to keep the knife sharp each time you use it for whittling.
Knives have to use the right blade so that they are durable. Typically, you can find a knife with a set or folding blade. Let’s learn more:
Folding Wood Carving Knives
Folding knives are smaller and more portable. On top of that, it could be illegal to walk around with a set knife, even if it is in a sheath. A folding knife is legal and easier to carry. Plus, the folding size of the knife is about half of the regular blade size so that it can fit in your pocket.
Typically, you can find them made using carbon steel. In fact, carbon steel is the top choice for a knife because it’s more durable and strong and can get through wood more easily.
However, at the folding point, this is a weak spot, so the knife could get broken more easily when you go to use it or put it away after cutting through the wood.
Fixed Wood Carving Knives
A fixed-blade knife has more benefits, even if it is scary to the public. With this type of blade, it’s stronger because it’s a solid piece. Plus, it is often longer. You want it to be long so that the knife can be used for many tasks. That way, it accomplishes more and can make long and flat edges. Plus, it’s often easier to clean than a folding knife.
We like carbon steel blades. Ultimately, carbon steel is strong, so the knife blade isn’t going to get damaged as easily. To protect the blade, though, make sure you have a sheath.
There are some downsides here because the knife isn’t portable. If the blade is too long, it could also be illegal to carry or use in public. You also have to consider safety. Choose a knife with a locking blade to be safer. These blades are usually still strong and able to handle almost anything.
Precision is key when focused on the knife you choose for carving. As a beginner, you have to be able to control the knife. We find that people with small hands should go with a medium-sized knife. Smaller knives are ideal for very fine caring or linoleum.
The sweep is shown with a number, and it focuses on the curve degree of the edge. A high number means there’s a bigger curve on the knife, which can be nice for cutting deep channels and grooves in the wood. Lower numbers on the knife mean you get a mild, smooth curve.
The design of the blade is a matter of preference. Many people want a wood knife with a flat blade where possible. This blade must also be thin and have a strong spine.
You want a knife with a narrow blade from the top to the bottom to ensure proper cutting of the wood. In fact, this is the primary reason why regular knives don’t work when carving wood.
A thin, long blade without a belly is suitable for most wood cuts. The belly is the rounded part on the edge of the blades toward the point.
Since precision is key here, you want to consider a thin blade, which is perfect for woodcarving. Make sure that the blade is made of carbon steel. That’s going to help with sharpening. On top of that, some of the best blade options are folding. It protects you when you aren’t using the knife, but it also keeps the blade sharper so that you can cut through the wood easily.
Carbon steel is the preferred option for most blades. However, there is competition out there to outdo carbon steel. Typically, we feel that carbon steel is stronger than stainless, so it’s an excellent option for machetes and survival knives. You do have to be careful because a carbon steel blade can rust quickly.
Carbon steel materials can get through hard wood easily. Still, the blade material matters because if the knife rusts, you aren’t going to be able to use it anymore. With that, though, rust isn’t likely to happen if you regularly clean the blade.
Edge retention focuses on the sharpness of the carbon steel blade. When it is good, the knife is ready for carving wood. While sharpening the blade is essential, you want it to start out sharper and ready to go. That way, the knife is going to be safer to use. A dull blade can glide, which isn’t what you want.
You can test the blades of the knife for sharpness by scraping a piece of paper against the blade. It should cut it easily but pay attention to the cut. Is it smooth and clean? that means the knife is good.
Wood Carving Tang
“Tang” refers to how the blade drags into the handle, and it can be partial or full. Typically, a full-tang blade is ideal for a knife. That means the blade can’t fall out of the handle or become loose with time.
Partial-tang blades only go into the handle a bit. This construction is different in a knife because it is glued together. That means the blade might slip out, causing the knife to damage your skin or be unusable.
A knife can be forged or stamped. The forged knife is made using a heated steel bar that’s hammered to the right shape. This knife has a thicker blade with a bolster between the handle and blade. It offers excellent balance and easy slicing because it’s heavier. Durability is also better than stamped blades because they aren’t likely to bend. However, they usually have a higher price.
Alternatively, a stamped knife uses a hydraulic press process. A sheet of steel gets molded into the blade shape with a machine. Then, various methods are used for sharpening the blade. These blades are often more affordable. However, they may not be made of carbon steel, and durability could be a concern.
One of the knife features you have to consider is the handle. Durability is a huge concern, and the handle of your knife could be made of wood, plastic, or steel material. Steel materials are preferable for durability and strength. However, a steel material costs more.
If you want the best wood carving knife, you must focus on quality. This review has talked about the different options on the market.
You need to find the best tool out there for your woodworking project, and we feel that the Morakniv knives are the right choice. In fact, they are amazing because of what they can do.
The Morakniv brand is made of steel, and this tool is suitable for wood carving and whittling, among others.