Using a whittling knife to transform a piece of wood into something truly special is a time-honored tradition. For hundreds of years, old-timers used their blades to bring to life the objects and animals which lived in their imaginations and brought them into the world made out wood. A tradition that began to wane for a few years, at least until Internet carving culture revived it. It’s never been a better time to begin this practice, assuming you can find a suitable knife. To help those interested in this whittling culture, I’ve listed ten blades that I feel are the best whittling knife models that were available when I began this list. These models will help the aspiring woodcarver transform an ordinary piece of wood into something magical.
10. Morakniv 122 Knife With Laminated Steel Blade
The Morakniv 122 is a smaller woodcarving knife that has a laminated steel blade that’s nice and thin and is in a birch wood handle. The blade is 2.4-inches long and .08-inches thick and the knife has a total length of approximately 6.7-inches. This model is lightweight, weighing only 1.9-ounces and are designed with whittling in mind. These knives have been crafted in Mora, Sweden since 1891 and have been appreciated by carpenters and other woodworkers for all of that time. Which makes it an ideal knife for using for small wood-crafting projects and should provide the woodworker with many years of reliable service.
9. Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife
Simplicity and efficiency are two of the traits that the manufacturer’s of this knife tried to imbue into this pocket knife. Manufactured in the French Alps since 1890, this blade has a number of features which makes it a useful tool for whittling. It has a carbon steel blade and a stained beech handle that not only makes it versatile but also makes it very nice looking. And 95% of the wood used in this knife’s handle has been responsibly acquired from sustainable sources. This model is also equipped with a Virobloc safety ring and the blade can be locked when it’s closed to make it safer to transport.
8. Beaver Craft Fine Detail Knife
This wood detail knife is designed for fine woodworking and can be used to make very fine detail cuts on finished wood projects. It has a very sharp blade that can really cut through softwoods and has a knife handle that’s made from hardwood oak and processed using linseed oil. Its handle is very nice looking but more importantly, it’s designed to reduce hand fatigue during carving projects. All of which makes this knife a suitable knife to use in the workshop or while carving a piece of wood on the front porch. It’s also a great gift for the aspiring carpenter or woodworker.
7. Beaver Craft Roughing Knife
This sloyd knife is useful for carving wood and roughing wood out and for whittling. It’s designed to be highly usable by beginners or professionals and has a high-quality carbon steel blade that’s sharp right out of the box and can cut easily through softwoods. It also has a hardwood oak handle that’s been processed using linseed oil and is designed to be beautiful and also highly ergonomic. This knife’s thin-point is useful for working in tight areas for detail work and the edge of the blade is durable enough to cut through a variety of woods, including walnut, hickory or oak.
6. Flexcut 3-Piece Knives Starter Set
This starter set of knives gives the user the three of the most popular knives used by amateur and professional wood carvers. It includes a cutting knife that has a 1.25-inch beveled blade and a rounded point, a detail knife that has a 1.5-inch straight blade with a very fine point, and a roughing knife that has a longer blade and is designed for removing more wood during roughing sessions. All of these knives have razor-sharp high-carbon steel blades that are sharp straight out of the box and beautiful ash hardwood handles that are not only nice looking but are also easy to hold.
5. Beaver Craft Detail Knife
Made for using during fine detail carving, this knife has a blade and a handle both designed to hold up to the job at hand. It’s made using a high-quality carbon steel blade that’s been hardened to the correct hardness level and sharpened so that it’s razor sharp straight out of the box. It also has a hardwood oak handle that easy-to-hold and doesn’t fatigue the user’s hand as quickly as other chip knives. This knife has an overall length of 6.5-inches and a blade length of 2.35-inches, which makes it handy for chip carving and valuable tool for anyone’s toolbox.
4. Flexcut JKN88 Whittlin’ Jack
This whittling pocketknife is equipped with two blades to give the woodworker the options they need to finish almost any wood carving job. It has one blade which is a detail knife with a 1.5-inch blade and the second blade is a 2-inch roughing knife. Both of the blades in one model gives the user a wide range of different options. Each of the blades is made of high-quality carbon steel that’s sharp right out of the box and are in a walnut inlay handle that’s very handsome and also comfortable to hold. Which makes this American-made knife useful to have in a pocket all year round.
3. Flexcut High-Carbon KN13 Knife
The Flexcut KN13 is a knife with a beautiful ash hardwood handle that fits comfortably in the user’s hand and can be held for long periods of time without causing undue fatigue. It also has a 1.5-inch straight-edged knife with an extremely fine point that’s designed for fine detail work but can also be used for rough cuts, when necessary. This knife is small enough to store in a toolbox or a kitchen drawer and is designed to hold up to years of use. Points which make it a useful tool for just about any woodworker to own and a powerful addition to any workshop.
2. Morakniv 120 Knife With Laminated Steel Blade
Designed with a tapered blade of laminated steel and measures 2.4-inches, this knife is designed for fine, precision carving. This knife’s blade thickness is only 2.7mm, which makes it ideal for handling detailed work and getting into tight spots. This product also has an oiled birch wood handle that fits comfortably in the hand and has an ergonomic feel to it. The company that manufactures this knife has been making knives for over a 125-years and this blade is just the latest example of their excellence. It’s also a knife that’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
1. Moraknive 106 Knife With Laminated Steel Blade
Manufactured by a company in Sweden that manufactures a lot of different whittling knives and has been doing so for over 125-years, the Morakniv 106 is widely regarding as one of the best whittling knife models currently available. That’s because it has a well-made oiled birch handle that’s strong, comfortable and easy to hold, and has a 3.2-inch blade with a length of .08-inches and is tapered. With a total length of 7.4-inches, this knife can be taken just about anywhere and is a product that can be used on the front porch, in the art studio or in a woodworking shop.
Whittling Knife Guide
More than your standard blade, a whittling knife needs to last you for hours of sculpting or carving. Even if you are just using one to pass the time, you want the product you choose to be able to make each stroke enjoyable. As with any knife, these products vary in quality so choosing one that will last is no easy task.
However, at the end of the following guide you will know how to differentiate between the low-quality products that can barely call themselves whittling knives and those that will impress the well informed.
What Is Whittling?
Some call it a lifestyle, others a hobby but ask anyone who does it and they will tell you that whittling has a certain art to it. By carving shapes in wood you can either sculpt something intentionally or just carve strips of wood to relax.
The knives designed for this practice have certain attributes including a comfortable curved handle and are longer in general.
What To Look For In A Quality Whittling Knife
Unsurprisingly, whittling blades are made rather different but most products out there have blades made from two materials. Stainless steel is a common and cost-effective option although you should expect it to dull a lot faster than high-quality blades.
These tend to be made from high-carbon steel. This has the benefit of maintaining its sharpness for longer and being easy to sharpen. Also, if you want to go straight in and use what the seasoned whittlers go for, choose a high-carbon steel whittling knife.
Because it is still a sharp object, your whittling knife needs to have safety features. Most commonly this will be in the form of a locking feature. The more reliable this is, the better the knife is.
Because you will be carving in different directions, a whittling knife has a curved handle. The more ergonomic they are, the more enjoyment you will get. Also, you need to have a decent amount of grip to give you another level of safety.
Because a whittling knife should be designed for long whittling sittings, the weight is a big factor. It needs to be sturdy enough for you to get through stubborn wood but not too heavy that it slows you down.
The two main types are rounded tips and straight-edged blades. The rounded tips make it easier to dig holes and carve shapes but for beginners, a straight-edged blade might be best.
How Many Blades Should A Whittling Knife Have?
This depends on the sort of whittling you are doing. Many people like to carve without a particular purpose, in which case, a single blade whitling knife will do just fine.
On the other hand, if you are looking to sculpt something in particular, a multi-blade whittling knife can have its benefits. Choose wisely though as there can be too much of a good thing. Some whittling knives have well over 15 blades in a swiss army knife style. The problem with too many blades is the ones outside of the middle have less carving power than those in the middle.
This is why it is best to reduce the number of blades to below 5.
What Wood Is Best For Whittling?
Although a quality whittling knife will make carving through any wood easier, there are certain types that are better suited to the art of whittling. Basswood is good for beginners as it is easily worked and can be carved without much fuss. This is why it is often used to make guitars.
Balsa is another popular wood for whittling because it is soft and light. These two are affordable and often the go-to wood choices for whittlers.
Pocket Knife Vs Whittling Knife
When it comes to carving wood, a pocket knife is a commonly used tool and can be enjoyable for a short amount of time. The problem is, it isn’t designed for long use which is where a whittling knife excels.
A longer knife is better and the curved handle of a whittling knife is more comfortable making it better suited to the task. Pocket knives are good when you have nothing else but the blades on a whittling knife will make it more enjoyable.
If you are new to whittling or just want to know what a more serious whittling knife should look like then there isn’t a lot to learn but when you have the right tool it can make the relaxing practice of whittling far more enjoyable.
Use the above guidelines and you will be carving strips of wood most satisfyingly.