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  • Need some help selecting a carving knife

    Greeting all,
    Need some help selecting a decent knife for carving. In New Zealand I can purchase the following brands.
    Flexicut
    Brienz
    Pfeil
    Mora

    If these brands are known to you can you let me know which of them is the better one to get please. From reading on the forum it would appear some knives are not so good and others great so figured best to ask you guys.

    This is all Merle's fault!!!! hehehehehehe I got to see the awesome eagle walking stick he did and I just had to have a crack at an NZ version of it so will go for an NZ falcon.

    Have got as far as cleaning up the stick and cutting the handle very roughly to shape and a good knife will be handy to rough it out me thinks. Will put up a post when roughed out allways supposing it doesn't end up in the firewood bin that is.

    This is a first attempt at real carving so I expect there might be a couple of false starts. We will just have to see how it pans out.

    Cheers
    Glenn

  • #2
    Glenn,

    Knife preference is a personal thing and I’m pretty sure that someone is going to tell each of the brands you’ve selected is their all time favorite couldn’t be without go to blade.

    I have owned flexcut, pfeil and mora. The flexcuts are the only ones I still own. Flexcut knives cut well and hold their edges. Most of their designs have a fairly thick stiff blades so if you like some flex you may want to keep looking. One other advantage to flexcut is the many profiles they offer I think 20 or more configurations. I use a hooked skew a lot and flexcut offers two or three of them.

    (Just to stir up the flexcut guys and gals) As much as I think flexcut gouges are of inferior design, made from inferior materials using an inferior processes. I would recommend their knives.
    Last edited by Nebraska; 05-28-2020, 08:32 AM.
    Ed
    Living in a pile of chips.
    https://m.facebook.com/pg/CentralNeb...ernal&mt_nav=0

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    • #3
      Glenn.... I don't think that you're going to be happy with any knife as long as a Samurai sword. You'd might want to keep the maximum length less than 2-1/2". You also need to be mindful of the blade thickness and flexibility. The thinner the blade the more flex. The thicker the blade, the stiffer it is. For detail work you might prefer a more flexible blade. For roughing out, most prefer a thicker blade. And lastly, you'll need to take into consideration the grind on the blade. I prefer a full flat grind because it passes through the wood easier. There is no resistance when the odd comes into contact with the upper section of the blade and it's easier to roll out of the cut. I believe you'll find the Flexcut blades are ground closer to the saber diagram. I started out with Flexcut blades and still have them in my tool but they aren't nearly as easy or pleasurable to use as the full flat grind. I've long since retired them. With this said, I'd recommend Flexcut knives for beginner's because they are almost idiot proof. When we first start carving everyone makes rookie mistakes like trying to turn the tip in too small a radius. On thinner blades this usually results in a broken tip. However, I've heard of few carvers breaking the tip on a flexcut. One last thing, the handle design. This is a big factor. Is the handle the right size and shape for your hand? Time and usage might have to determine this factor. My final recommendation if you are in fact starting out is to get two knives: one Flexcut rough out and the other the small Flexcut detail. In the end it's the kind of knife you get use to using that determines it type and brand.



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      • #4
        Glenn - I don't think there are separate companies associated with Brienz and Pfeil. Pfeil is located in the Swiss town of Brienz. I have visited there and can verify there is only one company. Likewise, the Swiss carving tradition downplays the use of knives. Yes, they show chip carving knives in their catalog, but the only knife they stamp their logo into the metal is essentially a bench knife that they call their "Brienz knife."

        Much of the tradition of knife carving is uniquely American, and the knife designs vary widely. Many talk about roughing knives and detail knives. We often reshape the blades to suit our personal preferences.

        There have been many discussions on this site asking for knife recommendations for carvers. Everyone has their favorite. Some knife makers have come and gone. Some do not ship out of the U.S. Eddy Smiles has given you an introduction to bevel shape, but you can search deeply into blade shape, length, metallurgy, handle shape, attachment, ease of sharpening, edge protection, etc., etc.

        Avoid getting distracted by your choice of tools. Focus on what you want to make.
        Last edited by pallin; 05-28-2020, 08:19 PM.

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        • #5
          I am the poster child for having bought cheap knives in the past, only to find out that the 'buy once, cry once' addage would have suited me better!

          Unlike Ed, I don't prefer Flexcut's knives. There are only 3 brands of knives I will even consider purchasing...Helvie, Deepwoods Venture, or OCCTools knives. All 3 are quality steel with good flat grinds!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tbox61 View Post
            I am the poster child for having bought cheap knives in the past, only to find out that the 'buy once, cry once' addage would have suited me better!

            Unlike Ed, I don't prefer Flexcut's knives. There are only 3 brands of knives I will even consider purchasing...Helvie, Deepwoods Venture, or OCCTools knives. All 3 are quality steel with good flat grinds!
            tb,

            Just to clarify. I don’t prefer flexcut but of the three choices he says are available to him in New Zealand it would be my choice.

            Truth be told I doubt if I use a knife for even 1% of my carving.
            Ed
            Living in a pile of chips.
            https://m.facebook.com/pg/CentralNeb...ernal&mt_nav=0

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Nebraska View Post

              tb,

              Just to clarify. I don’t prefer flexcut but of the three choices he says are available to him in New Zealand it would be my choice.

              Truth be told I doubt if I use a knife for even 1% of my carving.
              Ah... understand! Sorry! I am not sure how much it would cost to ship to NZ, or what the exchange rate would be, either!

              Comment


              • #8
                I see several stages in carving a stick.
                The tools I would use at the beginning will not be the tools that I would pick out for finishing.

                Select three sticks and work them all at the same time.
                One will die.
                One will become the living dead.
                One will turn out to be everything you imagined.

                After harvest, I'll want to strip off the bark. I can time that for early summer when the bark peels naturally as the sap starts running.
                Any other time, I'll likely haul out my Stubai draw knife to peel the stick.

                Most woods turn from cheese to bone as they dry
                so get stuck into carving straight away in the softer green wood.

                Knife choices are strange things. Almost, each to their own.
                The Pfeil "Brienz" knife is particularly useless. Maybe if I did leather work.
                Some thicker-bladed knife for the general shaping (coping saw?)
                More delicate blade(s) for the real detail carving.

                Two extra things:
                1. The handle sizes need to fit your hand to avoid fatigue.
                I can't hold a Pfeil detail knife = skinny handle. I make a lot of my own.
                Don't hesitate to modify knife handles to suit yourself.

                2. Every 30 minutes or so, those knives will need a lick of honing on a strop
                to sustain a "carving sharp" edge that makes this all so much fun.
                Must be prepared for that.
                Brian T

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                • #9
                  Glenn, I am not familiar with the last three knives you mentioned, just the flexcut. If you have some place that sells all the knives, go look at them, hold them, maybe try them out. The tools I use the most are the ones I have purchased this way.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Glenn - The availability of carving knives in New Zealand may be similar to the U.S. Many of the popular knives are not widely advertised. Check with local woodcarvers (if you know any.)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a number of Flexcut knives and they are fine. I also like the OCC and Drake knives and maybe partial to the Drake. Of course, I also have some cheapo knives that are worthless. I think you have to get exposure to a few, use them, and get your own opinion. Many opinions out there and you know what they say about opinions...
                      Bill
                      Living among knives and fire.

                      http://www.westernwoodartist.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Guys,
                        Many thanks for all the info. I liked Eddy's comment that flexcut are ok and idiot proof so have gone with that and got a starter kit of 3 knives.

                        The wood chips are flying!!! I'm trying Kahikatea which is a very white close grained timber. It is interesting to note that it doesn't like cutting against the grain but can be done if you don't take much off at a time. Can't take as bigger pieces off the work as you guys can with basswood so I think this might be a harder timber. Some bits cut easy some not so easy so it isnt overly consistant. Can be done will just take a bit longer I think. Have started roughing out a stick handle.

                        I find the knife needs a strop every 15-20 min

                        Thanks again guys much appreciated.

                        Cheers
                        Glenn
                        Last edited by Glenn Jennings; 05-29-2020, 05:54 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't see that wood in the wood database https://www.wood-database.com/wood-a...ication-guide/ Wikipedia says its a White Pine, but I don't see it listed in the database. If you find it, the key parameter to look for is Janka Hardness; the higher the number, the harder the wood.

                          As to the knives, Flexcut comes with a Sabre Grind (see Eddy's chart above). I have the KN13 Detail knife and had it modified to a Full Flat Grind and like it a lot better.

                          Here's a spreadsheet I created https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...e2#post1166518 #23

                          As you can see, the blade thickness varies quite a bit, as does the included angle. The smaller the angle, the easier it will cut wood, within reason. Obviously it isn't going to cut something like ironwood, but within the range of "normal" carving woods, thinner is more flexible, and will cut more easily.
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                          • #14
                            Glenn: If indeed this is a conifer, look at the annual growth ring count in the easy parts and the hard parts. Wood density might explain the change in carving toughness.

                            I've carved some pine, some spruce and a lot of western red cedar.
                            The best of those is always between 12 and 25 growth rings per inch.

                            You're right about the stropping.
                            I can feel the edge "going away" in 30 minutes and restoration is so quick.
                            Brian T

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                            • #15
                              A novice's opinion; I have a Mora 122 because I prefer the flat blade over a curved blade and I find that 2.4 inch blade a good length (I even do a lot of detailing with it), I have an OCC 1.25 inch bench knife that works very well on little people type carving and detail on all sizes of carvings and I also have a Mora Companion for heavier roughing and greenwood. Would not do anything different at this point.

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