Wood Carving Knives

Wood Carving Knives

When the embers have all died down and all the elders have finished their wild tales, there are really only three types of knives you need to have to get started. It’s time to start your quest to find a rough out knife, a detail knife, and a general cutting knife.

Before we begin let’s talk about brands. I’m going to recommend some brands and specific knives and it is important to read the reasoning behind them rather than get wrapped up in the actual brand name. Instead, refer to the features of what make up a good knife and apply that reasoning while you are shopping around. Every carver you talk to will have an opinion about which brand is best but it is similar to listening to truck owners. Ford, Dodge, GMC… whatever. Listen to the opinion of other carvers and then through use and experience you’ll come up with your own.

In reality, you will go through several different carving knives until you finally find that “one”. You know that scene in the Harry Potter movie when Harry gets his wand…. There is a magical glow and the wand reacts to Harry. It’s kind of like that. I do have my favorite tools that I’ve gathered over the years and I can feel a sense of…well… let’s say “energy” in them.

A few beginner rules to live by:

– DO NOT USE EXACTO HOBBY BLADE TOOLS! They are too likely to snap on you. You’ll be using a lot of force and these types of tools are way too dangerous for any level of wood carver. They’re great for other things; just don’t use them to carve!

– Always buy knives that come pre-sharpened.

Here we go!

Roughout knife: Your work horse. I guess wood carvers aren’t that original. The name of these knives spell out what you use them for. Guess what you use a roughout knife for? You got it! You rough out your block of wood to get the major shapes and proportions of your project. Thicker and generally longer than a detail knife, you will use this to take large aggressive cuts that require a lot of force. To hog out a lot of wood you need a tool that can sink in fast for a stop cut and can handle the abuse of cutting a lot of wood fibers at once. You do not want a narrow tip on a rough out knife. The slightest twist while removing a large chuck of wood will snap off that tip quicker than snot.

Examples of Roughout Knives:


Flexcut Roughout Knife http://amzn.to/2pZ3Sqo


Helvie Roughout Knife http://amzn.to/2pxRLzk

Detail Knife: Smaller in width and length, this knife come to a sharper point then a roughout knife. It is used to put in finer features and can curl far better. This gives you the ability to tackle curves and make more complex forms. You don’t want to use heavy prying forces with this knife. It is far more delicate and the tip can break fast if you’re not watching it. I personally keep two detail knives on hand. I call one my eye knife and keep it razor sharp for extreme detail work such as eyes and wrinkles. You’ll want to make sure you have a detail knife when it comes to cleaning your work. By cleaning I mean to say going over your entire carving at the end getting out all the jagged edges, rough surfaces, and pencil marks.

Examples of Detail Knives:

Helvie Detail Knife http://amzn.to/2t0CwkX

Flexcut Detail Knife http://amzn.to/2t0pSCk