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What is a good wood carving knife to begin with?

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  • What is a good wood carving knife to begin with?

    Hey all,

    So I have been wood carving for some months now, using a not that good pocket knife - and I've really felt in love with wood carving, so I want to take it to the next level, and get myself a new and better knife made for wood carving.. So I was just wondering if any of you knew a good brand or a good model to go for?
    I have checked this list of best wood carving knives 2019 here - but I thought I would just hear what your thoughts were, before buying one, what should I go for?

    I hope you all have a great day

    - martin
    Last edited by woodcarverlumb; 04-15-2019, 05:05 AM. Reason: wording

  • #2
    Do you have a preference for any particular style of carving?
    That could eliminate some knives best suited to other styles.
    Have you got any appetite to build a carving knife?
    There is a handful of really good American bladesmiths across the country that you should look at.
    Brian T

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
      Do you have a preference for any particular style of carving?
      That could eliminate some knives best suited to other styles.
      Have you got any appetite to build a carving knife?
      There is a handful of really good American bladesmiths across the country that you should look at.
      Hey Brian, thanks for your reply!
      I would like to be able to carve out things I can use, like spoons, bowls etc.
      How difficult is it to go about creating my own carving knife, that actually lasts for a long time and is of good quality?

      Comment


      • #4
        For spoons and bowls you will want hook knives, etc. Check out http://pinewoodforge.com/. They have a lot of knives suited for that purpose.
        Keep On Carvin'
        Bob K.

        My Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/rwkwoodcarving


        My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/robert.kozakiewicz.9


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        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by woodcarverlumb View Post
          Hey all,

          So I have been wood carving for some months now, using a not that good pocket knife - and I've really felt in love with wood carving, so I want to take it to the next level, and get myself a new and better knife made for wood carving.. So I was just wondering if any of you knew a good brand or a good model to go for?
          I have checked this list of best wood carving knives 2019 here - but I thought I would just hear what your thoughts were, before buying one, what should I go for?

          I hope you all have a great day

          - martin
          Not sure I agree with the list on the above link. (to each his/her own, I guess)

          As Bob said, if you're going to carve spoons, etc. with a knife, you should probably consider a hooked one for the cupped portion. For the rest of it, a straight-bladed knife should do the trick.

          Here is some info I posted on another forum that may help:

          -------------

          Carving purists will tell you there are three types of carvings: in the round; relief (sometimes called plaque); and chip carving. (a chip carving knife is much different than your typical "whittler".) Many carvers who make spoons will chip carve the handles. You may want to research this and see if that interests you. A chip carving knife may be in your future.

          I own several Helvie knives... more than I need and fewer than I want. Excellent quality. If you have the budget, you won't regret the investment. I also own knives by Drake and OCC Tools, along with several Ron Wells (hard to find) and others, including home-made.... more than I admit to my wife. ;>) (real carvers are knife collectors at heart... welcome to the vortex)

          With all the "fancy" knives I own, my go-to knife is a bench knife made by Murphy with a 1 7/8" blade. This might be of interest to you if you have a limited budget, as it is relatively inexpensive. It has good steel (important for any knife .... ability to hold an edge) but not any better than my other knifes. The real difference is the handle. With the type of carvings I do, I carve the end-grain often and hold my knife like a pencil with the sharp edge up. (weird... I know) The smaller, less bulky handle of the Murphy allows this, while other handle designs don't. I guess my point is: comfort of a knife handle is probably as important as the quality of the steel in the blade. You will find this out if you plan to carve several hours a day (sometimes all day, like I often do).... especially if you have old hands like mine.

          I would suggest you find a carving tool supply house or a local carving club and try a few out and see what feels good to you.

          Another thing to look for is the shape of the sides. Most general purpose knives have a slightly curved (convex) side. This allows you to cut curves easier (going in then out of the wood). Some knives, like the Wells, have flat sides. Not very good for curves, but very handy if you like flat-plane style carving. The only knife I use that has a concave side is a 5" Schrade locking folder that I use to clean cottonwood bark.

          The width of the blade (measured from cutting edge to back) is also something to consider. Smaller blades makes tighter curves.... duh, right? I don't use larger blades often but will if I have a lot of roughing out to do. Sloyd style knives may suffice for roughing out. I don't use them for typical carving/whittling, as they are too big for me.

          The length of the blade (measured from handle to tip) is also a factor in knife selection. A lot of detail knives are short and narrow when new. (All my short bladed knives came from other carvers who thought they were worn out.) I have long, thin bladed detail knives that allow a long reach in tight places. A must-have for my style of carving. (I've attached a photo of end-grain carving that is done totally with my Murphy and long-bladed detail knife.)

          Another thing to consider when selecting a knife is the profile. Some (Murphy) are made with a too-rounded-for-me profile. I like them as pointy as I can get them without sacrificing strength, so I have to grind them to shape. If you like to use knives as a pry-bar, thin and pointy is not for you. (Even chip-carving knives will have different profiles.)

          A lot to consider here. Hope this helps and sorry if not too clear. Please ask if questions. Whichever knife you choose, the real secret of carving is the ability of the knife to hold an edge and your ability to put one on it! Any time you spend learning to sharpen will pay off big time down the road... another reason to visit a carving club.

          Good luck.

          ....Dave
          Old carvers never die... they just whittle away.
          www.shellknobwoodcarvers.weebly.com

          Comment


          • #6
            I am the poster child for buying knives that were cheap, only to find out the old saying, 'Buy once, cry once', is really true. Here is the best advice I can give you that I wish someone would have given me 22 years ago when I started.

            Mike Shipley makes excellent tools at OCC Tools, and makes high quality knives. Helvie makes an excellent knife as does Paul up at Deepwoods Ventures in Minnesota. Any of those companies make a great knife for a good price. Expect to pay $25.00 to $35.00 for a quality knife. I know each of those 3 folks stand behind their blades and are all great people to do business with!

            Comment


            • #7
              Pinewood Forge makes great knives for spoon carving, but you will have to wait a few months (usually) for them to make it. A Helvie rough out knife is sharper than any of the knives on the list you have and would work fine for spoons, but a hook knife makes the bowls a lot easier. Most bush craft knives have steeper bevels and thicker blades that are well suited for cutting sticks and putting points on them. You can carve with them, but not as easily as with a different blade style. The Flexcut knives have a similar secondary bevel. Some carvers like them, but I didn't care for the few I have owned and tried. I like their gouges, but not the knives. If you want a camping knife or something to wear on a belt, then the Mora or some of the others on the "list" would probably work for you. Deepwoods Ventures also makes some nice sloyd knives and spoon kives, but I haven't tried them. They sell the blades also, so you can easily make your own handle.
              'If it wasn't for caffeine, I wouldn't have any personality at all!"

              http://mikepounders.weebly.com/
              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-...61450667252958
              http://centralarkansaswoodcarvers.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bob K. View Post
                For spoons and bowls you will want hook knives, etc. Check out http://pinewoodforge.com/. They have a lot of knives suited for that purpose.
                Awesome thanks, will check them out for sure!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dave.keele View Post

                  Not sure I agree with the list on the above link. (to each his/her own, I guess)

                  As Bob said, if you're going to carve spoons, etc. with a knife, you should probably consider a hooked one for the cupped portion. For the rest of it, a straight-bladed knife should do the trick.

                  Here is some info I posted on another forum that may help:

                  -------------

                  Carving purists will tell you there are three types of carvings: in the round; relief (sometimes called plaque); and chip carving. (a chip carving knife is much different than your typical "whittler".) Many carvers who make spoons will chip carve the handles. You may want to research this and see if that interests you. A chip carving knife may be in your future.

                  I own several Helvie knives... more than I need and fewer than I want. Excellent quality. If you have the budget, you won't regret the investment. I also own knives by Drake and OCC Tools, along with several Ron Wells (hard to find) and others, including home-made.... more than I admit to my wife. ;>) (real carvers are knife collectors at heart... welcome to the vortex)

                  With all the "fancy" knives I own, my go-to knife is a bench knife made by Murphy with a 1 7/8" blade. This might be of interest to you if you have a limited budget, as it is relatively inexpensive. It has good steel (important for any knife .... ability to hold an edge) but not any better than my other knifes. The real difference is the handle. With the type of carvings I do, I carve the end-grain often and hold my knife like a pencil with the sharp edge up. (weird... I know) The smaller, less bulky handle of the Murphy allows this, while other handle designs don't. I guess my point is: comfort of a knife handle is probably as important as the quality of the steel in the blade. You will find this out if you plan to carve several hours a day (sometimes all day, like I often do).... especially if you have old hands like mine.

                  I would suggest you find a carving tool supply house or a local carving club and try a few out and see what feels good to you.

                  Another thing to look for is the shape of the sides. Most general purpose knives have a slightly curved (convex) side. This allows you to cut curves easier (going in then out of the wood). Some knives, like the Wells, have flat sides. Not very good for curves, but very handy if you like flat-plane style carving. The only knife I use that has a concave side is a 5" Schrade locking folder that I use to clean cottonwood bark.

                  The width of the blade (measured from cutting edge to back) is also something to consider. Smaller blades makes tighter curves.... duh, right? I don't use larger blades often but will if I have a lot of roughing out to do. Sloyd style knives may suffice for roughing out. I don't use them for typical carving/whittling, as they are too big for me.

                  The length of the blade (measured from handle to tip) is also a factor in knife selection. A lot of detail knives are short and narrow when new. (All my short bladed knives came from other carvers who thought they were worn out.) I have long, thin bladed detail knives that allow a long reach in tight places. A must-have for my style of carving. (I've attached a photo of end-grain carving that is done totally with my Murphy and long-bladed detail knife.)

                  Another thing to consider when selecting a knife is the profile. Some (Murphy) are made with a too-rounded-for-me profile. I like them as pointy as I can get them without sacrificing strength, so I have to grind them to shape. If you like to use knives as a pry-bar, thin and pointy is not for you. (Even chip-carving knives will have different profiles.)

                  A lot to consider here. Hope this helps and sorry if not too clear. Please ask if questions. Whichever knife you choose, the real secret of carving is the ability of the knife to hold an edge and your ability to put one on it! Any time you spend learning to sharpen will pay off big time down the road... another reason to visit a carving club.

                  Good luck.
                  Thanks for your excellent advice!
                  I think I will try to check out my local supply house, try some different types and ask for some advice there also.
                  Thank you so much for your valuable reply!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tbox61 View Post
                    I am the poster child for buying knives that were cheap, only to find out the old saying, 'Buy once, cry once', is really true. Here is the best advice I can give you that I wish someone would have given me 22 years ago when I started.

                    Mike Shipley makes excellent tools at OCC Tools, and makes high quality knives. Helvie makes an excellent knife as does Paul up at Deepwoods Ventures in Minnesota. Any of those companies make a great knife for a good price. Expect to pay $25.00 to $35.00 for a quality knife. I know each of those 3 folks stand behind their blades and are all great people to do business with!
                    Awesome, you got a link?
                    $25 to $35 isn't even that much for a great quality knife in my opinion.
                    How long does a that good knife typically last?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mpounders View Post
                      Pinewood Forge makes great knives for spoon carving, but you will have to wait a few months (usually) for them to make it. A Helvie rough out knife is sharper than any of the knives on the list you have and would work fine for spoons, but a hook knife makes the bowls a lot easier. Most bush craft knives have steeper bevels and thicker blades that are well suited for cutting sticks and putting points on them. You can carve with them, but not as easily as with a different blade style. The Flexcut knives have a similar secondary bevel. Some carvers like them, but I didn't care for the few I have owned and tried. I like their gouges, but not the knives. If you want a camping knife or something to wear on a belt, then the Mora or some of the others on the "list" would probably work for you. Deepwoods Ventures also makes some nice sloyd knives and spoon kives, but I haven't tried them. They sell the blades also, so you can easily make your own handle.
                      Oh, they're really handmade - that's awesome, but the waiting time is of course a minus, but maybe a plus once I receive it - if that's the one I choose to go with.
                      I would like a knife, that's great for taking with me on a camping trip, which was how I ended up on the list of wood carving knives I linked to you. And I've heard Mora is a really good brand.. hmm...
                      Very helpful reply though, thank you!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am really surprised about how helpful people are in here, I really appreciate it!
                        Thank you so much everyone, this really gave my mind some clarity.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by woodcarverlumb View Post

                          Awesome, you got a link?
                          $25 to $35 isn't even that much for a great quality knife in my opinion.
                          How long does a that good knife typically last?
                          Paul's website at Deepwoods Ventures is www.deepwoodsventures.com. He hand forges his knives, and makes his knives to order. He is makes hook knives for bowl and spoon carving, and is also making a Sloyd style knife as well. Most of the OOC Tool knives and Helvie knives can be bought at any good carving website like the WoodCraft Shop in Bettendorf, Iowa, or Mountain Woodcarvers in Estes Park, Colorado.

                          Seriously, unless you use the knife for a screwdriver or a hatchet, a good carving knife should last a lifetime. I expect my Deepwoods knives will be passed down to other carvers once I am not here...same for my OCC Tools knives and my Helvie.
                          Last edited by tbox61; 04-15-2019, 10:29 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just to add my penny! It's my opinion that a carver just doesn't have one knife. We may start out that way but as time goes on we run into more and more situations where a different knife is needed to do the job. From that point on we're in deep "kimchee" because our needs morph into wants and that's when it turns from a tool box to a collection!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A "crooked" knife is the design style for the past few hundreds of years in the Pacific Northwest.
                              http://kestreltool.com/index.html
                              http://www.northbayforge.com/index.htm
                              I like to buy blades and haft them to suit myself. I don't count. Maybe 2 dozen now.
                              They are well suited to bowls and spoons.
                              You can begin with steel, a new or used farrier's hoof knife or a PacNW design double-edges blade = the real thing.
                              Brian T

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