Best Whittling Knife for Wood Carving

Peter Stec
October 7, 2021
Best Whittling Knife for Wood Carving

A whittling knife is one of the most common tools used in woodworking. Ages ago, whittling knives were used in wood carving to help chip away wood and create intricate designs. Today, they are used for household crafts or outdoor activities, such as camping. 

Working with a whittling knife can actually be therapeutic for many – especially if you’re a camping enthusiast. However, even if you’re not the outdoor type, but you enjoy fiddling with wood or trying to make furniture, a whittling knife is something that can come to your aid.

Best Whittling Knife for Wood Carving

If you’re a beginner, start with softwoods, as they cut nice and easy. Once you’ve mastered the basics of whittling, you can experiment with harder woods. By this time, you must know how effectively to use the knife. Choose a block of wood with a straight grain, given that it’s easier to whittle than one that has a multi-directional grain.

As easy as it sounds, whittling is not an easy task. You’ll need to be cautious about what wood to choose, which knife to use, and how exactly to go about the task. Various whittling knives are available in the market, but you have to choose one with great care, keeping in mind the parameters such as blade material, sharpness, handle material, etc. 

Some of the most common whittling knives come from the Swedish firm of Morakniv. This company makes high-quality, high-performance whittling knives and boasts of an all-inclusive portfolio. 

The Morakniv Wood Carving knife, made of laminated steel, is one of the best at a very affordable price. Another popular one that beginners can use is the BeaverCraft Wood Carving Detail Knife.

Here Are Some of The Best Whittling Knives – Tried & Tested

1. Morakniv 11863

Morakniv 11863

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It is made of carbon steel.
  • It sports a fixed blade.
  • It has a hard rubber handle.
  • The kit contains a belt clip that proves convenient for customers.

Morakniv is a highly reputed knife brand on account of its high quality, affordable products. The Morakniv 11863 is no exception; it is indeed one of their best knives – an excellent one for the money! 

Also called Companion Carbon MG, this knife is slim and small and boasts good portability. You can conveniently take it on outdoor trips or for any outdoor activities. It has a rubber handle that is very comfortable and strong to hold and helps make accurate cuts. You can use it confidently in projects where extreme accuracy and precision are required. It also has a belt clip, i.e., an attached polymer sheath containing a bottom drainage hole. 

The HRC of the carbon blade is around 58-60. The blade length is 4.1 inches, so you’ll find it rather convenient to slice through any wood piece.

Pros

  • Simple and easy to sharpen.
  • Affordable price.
  • Convenient handle.

Cons

  • Edge retention is not that great.
  • Few customers report having received damaged products.
  • It needs consistent maintenance.

Price:

$13.60

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2. Opinel Stainless Steel

Opinel Stainless Steel

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It is simple, sharp, and elegant.
  • It is made of stainless steel.
  • It sports a folding blade.
  • It possesses a good cutting ability.

The Opinel N°08 Stainless Steel is one of the company’s best products, almost as famous as the Opinel N°08 Carbon. In this case, the knife’s blade is made of stainless steel instead of carbon and mixed with chrome, making it anti-corrosive. Moreover, the remaining percentage of carbon in the blade displays extreme sharpness and excellent cutting ability.

It does not require a lot of maintenance and is a brilliant choice for people needing a tough whittling tool. Its handle is made of wood (beech) and therefore has a comfortable grip. 

Unfortunately, there’s a chance that the wood may swell depending on the workplace conditions. However, that can be easily remedied by using the knife in a dry environment and refraining from leaving it damp for a long time.

Pros

  • Simple, convenient construction.
  • Excellent finish.
  • The blade can be locked in open as well as closed positions.
  • Great rust and corrosion resistance.

Cons

  • Not easy to sharpen.
  • Some customers may have received damaged products.
  • Inconsistent performance.

Price:

Price not available

—-

3. Morakniv Wood Carving 120

Morakniv Wood Carving 120

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It is made of laminated steel and has a carbon core.
  • It sports a fixed blade.
  • It provides a tight grip.
  • It helps achieve flawless carving.
  • The blade thickness is 2.7 mm while its length is 60mm.

This is another marvel from the kingdom of Morakniv. The Wood Carving 120 is so sharp; it can be used for whittling projects right away. Since the construction uses laminated steel, you can use it for any type of intricate wood carving as needed. 

The edge retention delivered is also great. The knife handle is made of oiled birch wood that helps in lending a comfortable, natural grip and accurate control.

It is certainly a little expensive, but the advantages are more than make up for the price; you’re guaranteed good value for money. The company also provides a limited lifetime warranty on this product.

Pros

  • Very good knife on a budget.
  • Excellent sharpness can be used right away.
  • Enables precision in the carving process.
  • Ergonomic handle.
  • Good edge retention.

Cons

  • Some customers have received rusty, bent products.
  • Not a very good sheath.
  • Quality control is not very appreciable.

Price:

Price not available

—-

4. Flexcut Jkn88 Whittlin’ Jack

Flexcut Jkn88 Whittlin' Jack

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It features two folding blades.
  • It is made of carbon steel.
  • The folding blades include a 2-inch Roughing Knife and a 1.5-inch Detail Knife.
  • It weighs 5 ounces.
  • Blades are sharp and last long.

This is an excellent knife set from the Flexcut portfolio. It comprises two excellent foldable blades beneath a compact jack. However, they are not curvaceous; that is to say, you cannot use either of these blades to scoop into the ground. The blades are extremely sharp and long-lasting, though.

The knife has a very good ergonomic handle and delivers excellent control for blade movement. The frame is made of wood and aluminum and gives the knife a classic appearance. 

The blades are pretty easy to maneuver, except that they do not lock in place. The knife is extremely durable, though. It is not very expensive compared to the JKN91; however, it is costly enough in its own right.

Pros

  • Excellent knife for outdoor activities.
  • Very flexible and versatile.
  • Very sharp blade.

Cons

  • Not very affordable.
  • Not a very good finesse.

Price:

$45.30

—-

5. Flexcut Kn300

Flexcut Kn300

Key Features & Specifications:

  • The knives are made of carbon steel.
  • The set sports fixed blades.
  • The blades are sharp and tough.
  • The set comes with a lifetime warranty.

The Flexcut KN300 is one of the best whittling knife kits you can lay your hands on. It encompasses two knives – the KN13 Detail Knife and the KN27 Mini-Detail Knife. These are 2 of the best knives from the Flexcut product range. Since the blades are made of carbon steel, they are extremely sharp and tough and have amazing strength.

The handles of these knives are comfortable and can be used by literally anyone. The best part about this whittling knife kit is that the blades are sharpened before delivery, making them flawless and ready to use. 

The company also provides a bar of gold polishing compound along with the kit. You’ll be interested to know that the KN27 and KN13 are also excellent knives for a beginner. Also, the company provides you a replacement, free of charge, if there are defects in the shipment.

Pros

  • Sports a user-friendly handle.
  • Blades are extremely sharp.
  • Excellent post-purchase policy.

Cons

  • Slightly smaller, may not be the best choice for everyone.
  • A little thin as compared to its peers.

Price:

$37.94

—-

6. Morakniv 164 Hook Knife

Morakniv 164 Hook Knife

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It is made of carbon steel.
  • It features a fixed blade.
  • The blade is slightly curvaceous.
  • It is strong enough to tackle hardwoods.
  • It is very lightweight and compact.

It is one of the best knives offered by Morakniv. The Morakniv 164 Hook Knife sports a sturdy carbon blade and is renowned for its usage in hardwood whittling. It features a curved blade, which is advantageous when creating rounded edges or making detailed wood carvings. 

The knife has a single-edged fixed blade – that is to say, you can easily pull and push it with one hand for enhanced control. It is pretty lightweight, which helps users easily maneuver the knife to suit them or according to any job they are performing. It has a slippery birch handle that provides adequate grip to customers.

Pros

  • It has a limited lifetime warranty.
  • It has tremendous strength.
  • It is excellent for wood carving – spoons, bowls, paintings, etc.
  • It is very sharp and light.

Cons

  • It is not suited for a beginner.
  • It is quite expensive.

Price:

Price not available

—-

7. Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin’ 6in1 Folding Knife

Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin' 6in1 Folding Knife

Key Features & Specifications:

  • It comes with six blades.
  • It is highly portable.
  • The blades are made of 65Mn high carbon steel.
  • The blades are corrosion resistant.
  • The blades are designed with a groove for convenient access.

The Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin’ 6in1 Folding Knife can be considered one of the best for people on a budget. If you’re someone who only looks at whittling as a hobby and will need these knives only once in a while, this one is a great, affordable option. It has six blades; can you believe it? 

Not just that, it is also portable and can be carried anywhere, in case you want to go on a summer camping trip or hiking or something. 

This set is also quite affordable and of good quality. It comes as an all-inclusive package, comprising straight gouge, V-scorp, nail pulls, gouge scorp, hook blade, and a chisel. The blades are made of strong carbon steel and are therefore sharp and tough.

Pros

  • High quality.
  • On a budget.
  • Includes 6 blades in one pack.
  • The kit also includes hook knife and gouges.
  • It is larger than the Flexcut Carvin’ Jack.

Cons

  • The blades may sometimes be harder to open and close.
  • It doesn’t have a left-handed option.
  • It may require periodic sharpening.

Price:

Price not available

—-

8. Opinel No.08 Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife

Opinel No.08 Carbon Steel Folding Pocket Knife

Key Features & Specifications:

  • The knife features a folding blade.
  • It is made from carbon steel.
  • It is lightweight and has suitable dimensions.
  • It has subpar edge retention.
  • Its mobility is excellent.

The Opinel N°08 Carbon is one of the best the company can provide. It is reputed to be one of the best whittling knives in the industry. It depicts excellent performance and possesses superb mobility; you can literally carry it anywhere and everywhere without any problem. 

The knife blade is manufactured from carbon steel, which is why it is so sharp and tough. It does have moderate edge retention; however, it takes just a few minutes of re-sharpening to depict its earlier performance.

Pros

  • It is highly versatile
  • It has a simple and easy-to-use mechanism.
  • It possesses a strong and smooth locking technique.
  • It has an ergonomic beechwood handle.
  • Unique and smooth locking mechanism.
  • High-quality steel with excellent edge retention.
  • It is quite affordable and fits within the budget.
  • The knife is of high quality, despite the affordable price.

Cons

  • It has a large blade, which sometimes makes it difficult to conduct detailed operations.
  • Quality control needs improvement.
  • The knife requires consistent care and maintenance.
  • The blade gets dull quickly and may sometimes be a little difficult to sharpen.

Price:

Price not available

—-

9. Elemental Tools 9pc Wood Carving Tools Set

Elemental Tools 9pc Wood Carving Tools Set

Key Features & Specifications:

  • The entire set comes in an assembled, all-inclusive package.
  • A hook knife is included in the set as well.
  • The inclusion of a spoon blank enables customers to start using the kit as soon as possible.

The Elemental Tools 9pc Wood Carving Tools Set is another one of the best whittling kits you can get. This one is most suitable for beginners. It provides an all-exhaustive set of whittling knives that will help enthusiasts get through many interesting projects. It includes three carving knives, protective gloves, a hook knife, and a sharpening strop with compound.

The package arrives in a beautiful bamboo box – very suitable for gifting, truth be told. However, the spoon blank that the company provides is the cherry on the cake – it is a pre-shaped piece of wood with the help of which beginners can carve their own spoon.

Pros

  • It comes included with safety gloves.
  • The price is quite affordable.
  • There is a spoon carving blank included in the kit.

Cons

  • The quality is not as high when compared to other brands.
  • The knives may require periodic sharpening.
  • The decorative box is prone to breaking.

Price:

$39.99

—-

10. Flexcut Carvin’ Jack

Flexcut Carvin' Jack

Key Features & Specifications:

  • The kit contains 6 carving-specific edge tools.
  • It is one of the best whittling knives sets for professionals.
  • The Flexcut Gold polishing compound is included in the kit.
  • It includes a strop for sharpening the gouges and crops.

The Flexcut Carvin’ Jack is a state-of-the-art product line by the company. It contains 6 tools – a chisel, V scorp, straight gouge, gouge scorp, hook knife, and carving knife. 

Although it comes for both right and left-handed people, it is known to be more suitable for right-handed carvers. Nevertheless, this is a brilliant multi-tool set for professionals.

The price is steep, of course, however, if you plan to buy these tools individually, it might cost you more, and you’ll realize that the cost for the set altogether is quite reasonable.

Pros

  • The knife is extremely portable.
  • It is of high quality
  • Six blades are included in one tool.
  • It comes with a specially designed strop and compound.

Cons

  • Some users may not be comfortable with the ergonomics.
  • The opening and closing of blades can be a little tough.
  • It is quite expensive.

Price:

$111.95

—-

Best Whittling Knife – Buying Guide

What Is Wood Carving?

An all-inclusive term encompassing anything to do with woodworking, wood carving involves working with wood as the primary material and carving it into any functional or aesthetic product with the help of a tool. It is a creative art. However, it has been used to create utilitarian pieces for the longest time. Wood is beautifully carved to manufacture furniture, paintings, panels, and useful instruments.

Wood carving is not as complete as other art forms, such as stone carving, as wood degrades with time. Nonetheless, history stands testimony to how much this art form has been used for a long time. In ancient Egypt, for example, researchers unearthed extraordinarily beautiful wood panels embedded with stories and hieroglyphs. 

Around 500 to 1500 BCE, wood carving was used to create beautiful depictions of Christ and the saints of the period. Ancient churches also featured carved wood panels depicting the life and death of Christ. 

Ancient art has made its way through the modern age, as the wood continues to be used to create lovely artwork and other pieces. Whittling is one of the simplest forms of this art. It merely involves taking a knife and chipping away bits and pieces of wood, although it is not as simple as it sounds. 

Generally, softer woods are preferred for whittling, and it is widely used to create products such as trinkets, tiny sculptures, and canes, using appropriate knives. 

Why Is a Whittling Knife Important?

Why Is a Whittling Knife Important?

Whittling is quite an ancient practice, used literally since the beginning of mankind. Back in the days of the yore, whittling was used to create beautiful wood household articles and carvings. Despite the passage of time, whittling is still considered an important skill. 

However, what makes it even more significant is the appropriate use of a whittling knife. This little tool contributes to whittling wood and can be used accordingly to create handsome artwork or for just about any other job. 

Conventionally, a sturdy pocket knife is one that has always been used for whittling. In recent times though, companies have manufactured suitable whittling knives for the purpose, making it easy for enthusiasts. 

With a fixed blade and a long handle, whittling knives ease the woodworking process to quite an extent. In addition, the handle helps reduce numbness and provides comfort. This is important as whittling can be a long process depending on the work chosen; therefore, comfort is a number 1 priority.

If you plan to buy a whittling knife, there are certain pointers you must consider. You’ll need to analyze your purchase for all these options and then make an informed choice.

What To Look in A Whittling Knife?

Blade Design & Material

In many cases, manufacturers create whittling knives with blades that look similar to classic carving knives. These are termed specialty knives and are expensive; frankly speaking, though, if you’re thinking of doing a lot of whittling, they may help your case. Ordinarily, the blade design is pretty much like a regular pocket knife but varies with the different products available in the market.

In terms of material, note that most whittling knife blades are made of stainless steel. This is because it doesn’t corrode easily and holds an edge for long. It sharpens slowly, though, a disadvantage that is overcome by using high carbon steel. 

Thus, a lot of whittling knives are made from high-carbon steel. They are certainly more expensive than regular stainless-steel owing to higher carbon content and the fact that they are easy to sharpen.

Of late, manufacturers have been making high-carbon stainless steel blades, combining the potential advantages of both materials.

Blade Shape & Edge

A sheepsfoot blade shape works great – in this type of blade, the tip of the knife is in close alignment with the cutting edge, very much like a regular utility knife. 

Many knives also sport the drop-point shape – here’s where the tip of the knife is centered in the middle of the blade. This blade shape is suitable for general cutting but may not work very well if you need intricate carvings.

Blade Locking

The blade locking mechanism is introduced to prevent the sharp knife from hurting oneself. It is an excellent safety feature and a major point to be considered when buying a whittling knife. Most of them come with this feature embedded; however, it’s preferable to choose a whittling knife that has the best and safest locking feature.

Handle

It is vital that the handle of a whittling knife is made of good material and is extremely comfortable. Wood carving, as creative as it is, is also tedious, and it can be tiresome to work with a knife with an unfit handle. 

Whittling knife handles must preferably not be made with plastic, as carving requires a longer timeframe of work. The handle must be comfortable, non-slippery, and with a good grip. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Makes the Best Wood Carving Knives?

Most knife manufacturing companies have excellent production capabilities and an appreciable portfolio. However, Morakniv knives are the ones that have an outstanding reputation and are well-known among prominent woodcarvers. This Swedish company has been excelling in the knife industry and manufacturing quality knives for more than a century.

What Are the Best Wood Carving Tools for Beginners?

If you’re a beginner in wood carving or just an enthusiast interested in making wood sculptures and other art forms, you will need a good set of tools to start with. First of all, buy an excellent whittling knife of high quality. 

Any product from Morakniv, Flexcut, or Opinel will do. Next, you’ll need a good chisel to work with the wood. Apart from these, you’ll need well-built chip carving knives and spoon carving tools.

Can You Use a Pocket Knife for Whittling?

Yes, ideally, you can use a pocketknife for whittling. It is one of the simplest tools that many whittlers often use. Companies even tend to manufacture special pocketknives that are designed for whittling. 

However, note that not all pocketknives are ideal for whittling. Some of them may not slice through wood at all, and even if they do, the curvature may not be something you expect.

How Do You Sharpen Your Whittling Knife Blade?

Whittling knives can be sharpened at least once every 2 hours. The frequency of sharpening depends greatly on the steel quality and the density of the wood you’re working on.

How Do You Sharpen Your Whittling Knife Blade?

Whittling knives can be sharpened at least once every 2 hours. The frequency of sharpening depends greatly on the steel quality and the density of the wood you’re working on.

Three major tools can be commonly used to sharpen whittling knives: sandpaper, a leather strop with a polishing compound, and a sharpening stone. The stone is usually used to sharpen a brand-new knife that is yet to be used for wood carving. With sandpaper, all you need to do is cut and glue it to on the blade. In case you want to hone further and smooth the blades, you can use a leather strop with a polishing compound.

What Is the Difference Between Wood Carving and Whittling?

A major difference between wood carving and whittling is the type of tools used by enthusiasts and practitioners. Whittling, more often than not, may involve using only a knife to chop the wood and shape it accordingly. On the other hand, wood carving involves using more tools as intricate designs have to be carved on wood.

Final Verdict 

There is no dearth of options when it comes to choosing whittling knives. The only thing you need to keep in mind is your requirement – short-term or long-term. Carefully think about the budget constraints, the quality required, and whether you need the product for work or as a hobby. Accordingly, you can make an informed choice.

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

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