What Is the Best Knife for Carving Wood?

Published On: October 1, 20210 Comments on What Is the Best Knife for Carving Wood?Tags: Last Updated: February 4, 20244.3 min read

What is the best wood carving knife, you wonder? Portability has always been a strong selling point for these blades, so you may want to start with that before moving forward. Factoring easy-carrying should help you land a very sharp and convenient knife for carving wood.

What Is the Best Knife for Carving Wood

Then again, there should be quite a few knives on the market that meet these requirements. Let’s check out some of the qualities that make up the best wood carving knives.

Are You Carving or Whittling?

It’s common for beginners to mistake whittling for carving, so let’s explain the difference. After all, knowing what sets these two apart could determine whether or not you find the right knife.

Wood Carving

Wood carving deals mostly with a functional or figurative three-dimensional shape, design, and structure creation from wood. You will require a very specific tool for this. It also won’t hurt to have a workbench or workshop to perform your projects in. Carving wood is as much a profession as it is a hobby and can range from creating something as small as a paperweight to something as large as a closet. Now, will a pocket knife be the best wood-carving tool of all time? No, it won’t. However, it will certainly be among the best knives for the job, not to mention the most convenient. Furthermore, the knife in question won’t really matter in the hands of a skilled woodcarver. The artist’s patience, creativity, and vision should make up for any shortcomings, bar dullness the blade may have.


There isn’t a vast difference between wood carving and whittling. In fact, the latter technically belongs to some category of the former. That said, what little difference between the two lies in how the creator goes about making their creation. In whittling, the artist goes about carving through reduction, scraping away at pieces of the wood material to form a figure several fractions smaller than the original block.

Wood carving, on the other hand, can be as much about reduction as enlargement. It has fewer limitations and offers almost no bounds creativity-wise. That’s why many argue the artistry behind whittling, as they deem it not to be as challenging as its “mother” art form. In parts of the world that couldn’t care less about wood carving specifics, whittling isn’t even recognized. They might acknowledge that it’s another type of wood carving, but they call it “wood carving” all the same. Whittling often conjures up images of idly shaving at a block of wood in a tranquil setting. The activity’s association with peace and quiet is mostly the reason for its rise in popularity. This connection to something opposite of the frantic lifestyle makes modern woodcarvers more inclined to venture into this more specific form of their craft.

carving a spoon with carving knife

Do the Same Blades Work for Both?

Generally, wood-carving pocket knives should work for whittling as much as its namesake. Just make sure to consider the following qualities:

Locking or Non-Locking Mechanism

The knife’s locking or non-locking qualities should factor into their effectiveness for carving wood. Though, keep in mind that your preferences should dictate your choice in the matter. Some feel more comfortable carving using locking blades due to their extra gripping strength, while others with more relaxed grips feel restricted by this and prefer the locking knife’s firm but more relaxed handle.

Blade Design

On this front, you might yet again have to call on your preferences to make the decision. That said, a flat-edge blade with a strong and moderately thick spine should work in your favor more often than not. As for the bevel, you won’t need to focus too much on that at this stage. The Scandinavian edge should also prove effective for wood carving, with its grind offering more control and sharpening ease.

Blade Steel

As far as blade selection, it’s crucial to strike the right balance between blade hardness and ease of sharpening. Sharpness is non-negotiable since we are talking about wood carving. That said, the blade mustn’t just be hard and sharp; it also has to possess an easy sharpening quality. Also, a sharp blade is only unsafe in unskilled hands. Even then, you’d still have better luck with it than a dull blade. Sharpness means safety, while dullness means the exact opposite, with its blade slipping far more often than you would like, resulting in potential disasters of the excessive bleeding variety.

So, Which Wood Carving Knife Should You Go For?

There’s not a single knife that provides a blanket solution for wood carving needs and preferences. That’s why it’s imperative to choose a knife based on the unique circumstances surrounding your wood carving venture. Are you a beginner or a professional? What’s your special technique for carving? How’s your grip? The answers to these questions about woodcarving all factor into the selection process and should align with the qualities you look for in a wood carving blade.

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