Whittling is an age old pastime of carving wood. It’s an incredibly therapeutic hobby that helps people to center their thoughts and find some satisfaction. The art of producing something, be it a small figurine or something more substantial, relaxes the mind and rewards you with a physical representation of your labor.
Whittling requires a knife. A specific knife that offers the right amount of control and precision. Without a whittling knife, you simply can’t carve with enough finesse to create a worthwhile piece.
As with many tools, these knives are a saturated market, and so it can be difficult to make the right choice. It can also be a daunting task to research and find the correct whittling knife for your needs.
This article aims to remove that difficulty by the best whittling knives we’ve found on the market.
There are literally thousands of different options out there, and so unless you’re a seasoned whittler, it’s near impossible to know exactly what you’re looking for. Each whittler has their own preferences, but there are some key things to consider that cover all whittling knives.
Many people use a regular pocket knife for whittling. For generations, purists of the art have said that a pocket knife is the only knife to use when whittling. While pocket knives are a good choice because of how portable they are, they’re not as sturdy as a specialist whittling knife. They’re useful in that any time you come across a nice chunk of wood, you can whittle away to your heart’s content. They’re also useful as they have multiple blades for different cuts.
However, where pocket knives let you down is in their sturdiness. A folding blade is more prone to breaking than a fixed one. The fixed blade of a specialty whittling knife makes them more study than a pocket knife. They also have a curved handle that fits nicely in the palm of your hand, so you won’t get sore when working on a real masterpiece. They hold an edge nicely, giving you much more control in your carving.
How To Choose A Whittling Knife
When purchasing a whittling knife, you need to be sure of a few things. It should be made of quality steel that is hard, durable and takes an edge well. The blade should be narrow from the tip to the base, as this allows for intricate cuts in more concave areas of the wood. Anything over 15 mm will be too big. A long and thin blade without a lot of belly works well for most cuts that you’ll encounter. The belly of a knife is rounded towards the tip, which is ideal for carving bark from the wood, but generally useless for carving after that.
With regards to the handle, it’s a more subjective decision. You want an ergonomically designed handle that will rest comfortably in your hand. A lot of handles are made from wood, which makes for comfortable handling. Rubber is another comfortable material. When making your selection, hold a few different knives and work out which one is most comfortable for you, as this will give you a reference point of the feeling in your hand.
You’ll also want to consider how much you are willing to pay. Prices vary from as low as $10 to $100. Generally, the lower the price, generally, the lower the quality of the knife. If you are taking your whittling seriously and you want a knife that will last, you should be willing to pay higher prices. But if it’s something you’re just experimenting with, you can go for a cheaper model and see where it gets you. If you enjoy whittling and choose it as a hobby, you can upgrade later on.
Benefits of Owning
Owning a whittling knife has many benefits. Mainly that by owning it you introduce yourself to a new hobby. By the very virtue of owning it, you feel the need to use it and develop your whittling skills. It’s a productive tool to have, and you will be able to observe your progress by the wood carvings you create.
Studies suggest that hobbies like knitting and whittling are very beneficial for easing stress. Whittling is a very therapeutic hobby, allowing your mind to forget the ‘to do’ lists in your head and just focus on the carving. The feeling of carving wood with a sharp blade is also very satisfying.
A Useful Skill
Whittling enables you to learn new skills, like how to use a knife. These come in handy for camping and hunting trips. Being able to fashion a spear or sharp peg quickly can be very useful in the wild. For cooking food over an open fire, a stake can be very useful. Likewise, if you’re making shelter to sleep under, you can make a much sturdier structure with large stakes to put into the ground.
Top 5 Rated Whittling Knives
Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack
The Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack is really good. It’s made from Flexcut’s own carbon steel, making for a really strong blade. It’s the smaller two-bladed version of the Carvin’ and Pocket Jack.
The unique two-bladed design offers you the variety of blades that any whittler would need. When closed, it’s just 4 inches in length and you would never know it was in your pocket. The two blades are a detail knife, which is 1.5 inches long, and a slightly longer roughing knife, which measures 2 inches long.
What some customers were upset about was that it has no curve on the blades, meaning you can’t scoop with it. However, most felt that it was a quality knife due to its versatility. It’s a good knife to start out on for sure.
Warren Deluxe Wood Carving Knives & Tool Set
Warren are offering a complete kit suited to whittlers of any level. This concise kit contains 7 different blades, including a scoop chisel. This offers you every blade you’ll need and more, making it one of the most dynamic sets for whittling. The beautiful wooden handle really adds to the aesthetic of the knife, which is also a comfortable fit in the hand. The interchangeable blades lock firmly into the handle so you don’t need to worry about them coming loose.
Customers were delighted with this product for the variety it offered. Some were disappointed by the lack of a blade sharpener included in the kit. However, it was noted that due to the quality of the carbon blades, you really won’t need to sharpen them. These qualities make it an incredibly easy tool to recommend.
Morakniv Wood Carving 163 Hook Knife
The Morakniv is really beautiful. The curved blade, which is made from strong carbon steel, offers the user ultimate control over their craft. The blade is also double edged, allowing you to use either the curved side or a straighter edge. It has a beautiful and comfortable oiled birchwood handle. The blade measures 2.4 inches, with an internal radius of 0.8 inch to 1.0 inch. The carbon steel blade is so strong that Morakniv offers a lifetime warranty for this beautiful knife.
Customers loved the versatility of the double edged blade. Some were disappointed that the blade did become slightly blunt over time. The positive note is that it sharpens very well with minimal effort, so all it needs is a little maintenance and care to ensure its longevity.
Flexcut Deluxe Wood Carvers Palm Tool and Knife Set
Another entry from the brilliant Flexcut. The Deluxe Wood Carvers Palm Tool and Knife Set is a beautiful collection of whittling knives that is sure to satisfy even the best whittlers. It’s a beautiful 9-piece set that combines two of the most popular whittling knife sets around. The blades are razor sharp and made from carbon steel, which makes them extra sturdy.
What’s great about this set is that it provides all the capabilities of a wide range of blades in one convenient package, which includes four razor-sharp carving knives. There are also five palm tools including a 70 degree V-tool, a 3 x 3/8 inch gouge, a 6 x 5/16 inch gouge, a 11 x 1/8 inch gouge, and a skew. The delightful set is packed in a wooden box for your convenience and a safe means of storage.
Customers loved the variety and packaging of this set, including the well honed, sharp blades that it encompasses. The only complaint was that they don’t hold their edge very well. However, with regular maintenance and care, these knives will last a lifetime.
Morakniv Wood Carving 164 Hook Knife
Last on the list is another entry from Morakniv. The 164 Hook Knife is a beautifully curled blade for optimum control. A hook knife will always offer you the option of spooning and controlled wood carving that you rarely find in whittling knives. The blade is single edged and made from carbon steel, which means it is durable and will last you a long time.
The oiled birch wood handle is a trademark of the Morakniv brand. It fits comfortably in the hand and won’t blister like other, synthetic handles. It has a nice blade length, which measures about 2 inches, with an internal radius of 0.5 inches. As a whole, it weighs just 2.1 ounces, so you won’t notice it in your pocket at all.
Customers loved this knife for the curved blade, which offers optimum control and dexterity when carving. Some customers complained that it wasn’t quite as sharp as they liked. However, it has been suggested that a piece of sandpaper can offer an extra sharpness to this brilliant knife.
Owning a whittling knife is essentially purchasing a new hobby. You’ll find that you are much more productive, with a mind that is truly at ease. Taking up a new hobby, be it sport or otherwise, is always going to add a new sense of calmness. Whittling is a perfect way to add that calmness to your life. By being productive, you’ll find a real sense of satisfaction from your whittling hobby. You will literally have a beautiful collection of wonderfully carved sculptures that you can lay claim to.
As a newly acquired skill, whittling will offer you a complete back catalogue of useful skills when hunting or camping. Being able to produce a stake to create shelter, or a spear to continue your hunting pursuit is an extremely useful and beneficial skill you have acquired. Having bought one, you will undoubtedly pursue this skill and ultimately master it.
Remember, when buying a whittling knife, you need to consider a few key factors. Firstly, a pocket knife is a useful tool, but a specialized whittling knife is sturdier and more reliable in that sense. A single, mounted blade is much stronger than a flip blade. A curved handle that fits comfortably in the hand will benefit you in the long term. You also want to find a knife with a strong blade, preferably made with carbon steel. This will last you longer than any other kind of steel or metal in general. Lastly, remember that blades over 15mm are too thick for any kind of detail that you might be carving.
Our top pick is either of the Flexcuts. The set is great for anyone who would consider themselves an advanced whittler. As a beginner, the single knife from Flexcut is brilliant. It’s one that will last and provide you with the necessities to develop and perfect your craft. Flexcut is a trusted brand amongst whittlers offering true quality with carbon steel blades. They also feature beautifully crafted, comfortable and ergonomic handles, allowing you to create beauty from nothing but your chosen chunk of wood.
Consider this advice when making your purchase and you won’t go wrong. Whittle on my friends.