Becoming an expert at wood carving takes a lot of work. There are different types of carving to learn and various carving techniques, not to mention other skills like knowing how to choose the right wood.

However, none of these matter if you don’t have the right tools. Having the best wood carving knife will make whittling look easy and learning quick.

We have compiled a list of the best knives for carving and a guide on how to choose the right one for different projects.

Our Top Picks

Best Wood Carving Knife

  1. BeaverCraft Sloyd Knife C4 3.14″Best Whittling Knife for Beginners
  2. Morakniv Wood Carving 106 KnifeBest Professional Wood Carving Knives
  3. BPS Knives HK1S Camping Bushcraft KnifeBest Outdoor Wood Whittling Knife
  4. Boker Ts Med Stockman Pocket KnifeBest Pocket Knife for Rough Carving
  5. Flexcut Cutting KnifeBest Value for Money
  6. Buck Knives TRIO Folding Pocket KnifeBest Whittling Pocket Knife
  7. Flexcut Whittlin’ JackBest Whittling Jackknife
  8. Opinel Stainless Steel Folding KnivesBest Folding Whittling Knife
  9. Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin’ 6inBest Value Pocket Knife
  10. Condor Tool & KnifeBest Premium Wood Whittling Knife
  11. KAKURI Kiridashi KnifeGood Wood Carving Knife for Detail Carving
  12. Cor cordium Wood Whittling KitBest Whittling Knife Set
  13. Wood Carving Whittling Knife BeaverBest Whittling Knives for All Wood Types
  14. Haawooky 2 Pack Wood Carving ToolsBest Carving Knife for Wood from Sloyd

Best Whittling Knife Reviews (Updated List)

Here’s our best wood carving knives review.

1. Best Whittling Knife for Beginners – BeaverCraft Sloyd Knife C4 3.14.”

BeaverCraft Wood Carving Knife for Whittling Sloyd Knife C4...
  • Sloyd Knife for General Carving: this tool will become an irreplaceable helper in your work because the pointed tip will help with the details and the rounded blade allows you to make slicing cuts.
  • Whittling Knife Ergonomic Handle: the shaft is made of hardwood oak and protected with natural linseed oil. The design of the handle allows to carve comfortably for a long time without hand fatigue.
  • Wood Carving Knife Cutting Edge: is very sharp, allows you to cut softwood. The cuts are very smooth. The cutting edge of sloyd knife is durable to also cut hardwoods such as oak or walnut.

We start this list with a brand every beginner should get to know. Beaver Craft has only been on the scene for a short time, but they make excellent whittling knives.

A case in point is their Sloyd Knife C4. This whittling maestro was made with convenience and longevity in mind. The blade is made of high carbon steel hardened to RC 58-60, which is as hard as you’ll ever need.

The sharpness and strength of this knife make it perfect for carving softwood. However, you can also use it on greenwood and hardwoods like oak and walnut.

Speaking of oak, that is what the ergonomic handle is made of, and it has been coated with natural linseed oil.

So, not only is the blade dependable, but the oak handle will also last a long time, provided you reapply a top coat every couple of years or whenever it begins to wear out.

This knife is long (8 inches), light (weighs 0.32 ounces), and comfortable; you can use this for hours without developing hand fatigue.

The only drawback is that high carbon steel can be difficult to sharpen and prone to rust. Fortunately, this remains sharp for a long time, and you can coat the knife with WD-40 to delay rust.

What We Liked Most

  • Affordable
  • Very strong and sharp blade
  • The best wood carving knife for beginners
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Useful for different types of carving

What Could Be Improved

  • It is prone to rust
  • Sharpening requires skill

2. Best Professional Wood Carving Knives – Morakniv Wood Carving 106 Knife

Morakniv Wood Carving Knife 106
  • Wood carving knife with a durable laminated steel blade
  • Oiled birch wood handle
  • Limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.

Next, we move to a product that is different from Beaver Craft in many ways. For starters, Morakniv knives have been the go-to tool for woodcarvers for over a century, making them one of the most trusted brands in the industry.

The second important distinction is that this wood carving knife is made for professionals and is priced accordingly. However, it is not so expensive that it should scare off beginners.

The stainless steel blade may not be as strong as high carbon steel, but it is rustproof. The laminated steel blade also makes it more resilient to impact and humidity.

Whether you are carving softwood or hardwood, the 3.2-inch blade will help you make confident sweeping rough cuts as well as delicate pare cuts. The oiled birch-wood handle is ergonomic and gives you excellent control.

You also get a sheath to help you store this wood carving knife and to preserve the blade from accidental damage. We would have preferred a leather sheath for the price rather than plastic, but it is not a deterrent.

What We Liked Most

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Rustproof
  • Comes ready to use
  • Has a limited lifetime warranty

What Could Be Improved

  • The sheath is plastic

3. Best Outdoor Wood Whittling Knives – BPS Knives HK1S Camping Bushcraft Knife

BPS Knives HK1 CSH - Handmade Carbon Steel Knife - Fixed...
  • ✅ SHARP BLADE: Bushcraft Knife HK1S has been designed to take on camp chores and fieldwork in the wild. Perfect all-around bushcraft tool for hiking or setting up your campsite
  • ✅ HIGH QUALITY: Camping knife made of high 1066 carbon steel. Hardened to 57-59 HRC and holds an edge well. Bush Gear Knife Tool. Well balanced.
  • ✅ SAFE CARRYING: Camp knife with leather case: handmade genuine leather sheath is included. Crafted from the highest quality premium materials for easy and safe carrying. For vertical carry on a belt or strap.

If you spend a lot of time outdoors and want to pass the time whittling some greenwoods or preparing tinder, you need something rugged and dependable. Quite frankly, it doesn’t get better than the BPS bushcraft knife.

This brand makes several great camping knives but stands above the crowd. Made from high 1066 carbon steel and sharpened for immediate use, this bushcraft knife was designed to make camping easier.

The blade is 4.4 inches, making it one of the longest on our list, and with good reason. This length makes it easy to take apart larger branches without a sweat.

The handle is made of walnut and has been covered in danish oil for protection. While this whittling knife won’t give you the type of control you expect from a typical carving knife, this wasn’t built for flawless designs but more rough cuts.

When you need to put it away, a leather sheath is provided, and it can be hung on your belt. This blade will rust, so always rinse and dry after using on greenwood.

What We Liked Most

  • It comes ready for use
  • It comes in a leather sheath
  • Made of very strong steel
  • Easy to carry

What Could Be Improved

  • It is prone to rust
  • It requires special maintenance

4. Best Pocket Knife for Rough Carving – Boker Ts Med Stockman Pocket Knife

Boker 110728 Ts Medium Stockman Pocket Knife, Black,...
  • Traditional pocket knife
  • High carbon stainless steel blades
  • Jigged black bone handle

Wood carving knives can be dangerous, especially if you have small children. That is why many people prefer a knife with a sheath or a folding knife, which is why the Boker brand has been a favorite for decades.

Each of the three blades is stainless steel and sharp, although it’s a thin blade. However, you may need to oil them every few months slightly, so the blades come out easily.

This makes this a great whittling pocket knife for carving softwood but not much else. If you use these for hardwoods, they may break. What this knife lacks in strength, it makes up for in style.

The jagged black bone handle is one of the prettiest we’ve seen. Plus, it is easy to hold, no matter which knife you want to use. When closed, this knife is just 3½” long and opens up fully to about 7½”.

Besides carving, you can use this knife for hunting and preparing wood for a bonfire. One thing to watch out for is quality control issues. Some customers have gotten defective products, so keep an eye out and order a replacement if needed.

What We Liked Most

  • It is easy to carry
  • It is rustproof
  • Blades are very sharp
  • It can be used for different purposes

What Could Be Improved

  • You can only use it for softwoods
  • Some quality control concerns

5. Best Value for Money – Flexcut Cutting Knife

Flexcut Cutting Knife, High Carbon Steel Blade, Ash Handle,...
  • 1-1/4 inch straight edged knife
  • Ergonomic ash hardwood handle
  • Comfortable after hours of continued carving

We’re back to regular carving knives, one of the most dynamic ones. The Flexcut Cutting Knife is aptly named because it does not fall under any standard knife description.

It is a short blade of just 1¼,” and it is slightly curved, which gives the impression that it is a bench knife suitable for chip carving. However, it is also strong, thanks to its high carbon steel material, so you can use it for long sweeping cuts like a sloyd knife.

Simply put, this is a phenomenal general-purpose carving knife. This means that if you’re a beginner and don’t know what type of wood carving you want to get into and don’t want to waste money on tools, this is the knife to start with.

Flexcut suggests that pros can use this knife, and we agree, with just one major caveat: try not to use this for heavy woodworking. Instead, stick with softwoods, and you’ll never be disappointed unless you buy one of the defective products.

What We Liked Most

  • General-purpose carving knife
  • Made from the strongest steel
  • Comfortable handle
  • Has and maintains a sharp edge

What Could Be Improved

  • Prone to rust
  • Not suitable for hardwoods

6. Best Whittling Pocket Knife – Buck Knives TRIO Folding Pocket Knife

Buck Knives 373 Trio 3-Blade Folding Pocket Knife with Wood...
  • TRIPLE BLADES- The 373 Trio features three blades: 2-1/2" clip, 1-3/4" sheepsfoot and 1-11/16" spey. The 420J2 steel is known for its' corrosion resistance. 3-1/4" closed length, 1. 9 oz.
  • VERSITILE - the clip point blade is used for detail work and cutting in tight places. The spey blade is perfect for skinning or sweeping knife strokes, and the sheepsfoot blade is suitable for making clean cuts, especially on a flat surface
  • HANDSOME HANDLE - woodgrain handle with nickel silver bolsters provide a knife that is as handy as it is handsome

Next, we have another pocket knife, but this one comes with three blades and was made for whittling. The Buck Knives Trio Folding Pocket Knife is one in a long line of pocket knives from a legendary company that has existed for over a century.

Their mastery of knife making shines through in this durable, light, and practical tool. The blades are made out of 420J2 stainless steel, which is a corrosion-resistant metal that sharpens to a fine edge and is fairly strong.

However, not so strong that you should use this for anything other than softwood. When it comes to carving, you can use the clip point blade for detail work, the spey blade for rough cuts, and the sheepsfoot blade for straight cuts on a flat surface.

All of these blades fold into a woodgrain handle with nickel silver bolsters. While there is a lot to like about this product, there are a couple of things to be wary of.

First, the blades don’t retain their edges well, so you will need to sharpen this often. The second is that the blades are thin, so you shouldn’t exert too much pressure on them, or they can snap.

If you are unhappy with the product, Buck provides a lifetime warranty for all of their knives.

What We Liked Most

  • You get 3 blade options
  • The blades are corrosion resistant
  • Great for different carving projects
  • Lifetime warranty

What Could Be Improved

  • The blades are not very strong
  • You need to sharpen them often

7. Best Whittling Jackknife – Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack

FLEXCUT Whittlin' Jack, with 1-1/2 inch Detail Knife and 2...
  • Jackknife with two whittling specific blades
  • 1 1-1/2 inch detail knife and 1 2 inch roughing knife
  • At just over 4 inches long it fits nicely into your pocket or pack

Flexcut returns to our list with a whittling jack that does what it says on the pack. This is one of the best wood carving knives for carving on the go.

It is designed to be compact yet versatile and dependable. When closed, this jack is just 4″ long, so it can conveniently fit in your pocket or a carrying pack.

So, whether you are taking a hike around your neighborhood, passing the time at the park, or camping, you can easily carry this knife and put it to work. And oh, does it work!

This knife for wood carving packs a one-two punch of a 1½” detail knife and a 2″ roughing knife. Both blades are carbon steel and come razor-sharp, ready to slice softwoods and mild hardwoods.

The blades also remain sharp for a long time, which is good because they are not the easiest to sharpen. The handle is aluminum with wood inlay.

Surprisingly, it is still quite comfortable to hold and use, provided you only whittle for a couple of hours. Any longer, and you will feel the metal a bit more.

While anyone can use this knife, it is a slightly premium product, so it caters more to DIY or slightly experienced carvers.

What We Liked Most

  • It comes razor shape
  • Stays sharp for a long time
  • Two foldable blades to choose from
  • Easy to carry

What Could Be Improved

  • The blades are sometimes difficult to remove
  • Not suitable for long working hours

8. Best Folding Whittle Knife – Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Knives

Opinel No.06 Stainless Steel Folding Knife with Beechwood...
  • This essential tool is unchanged since 1890 and is a must have for outdoorsmen and handymen alike
  • The Stainless Virobloc safety ring has two sections, one fixed and one sliding for secure locking
  • Opinel's stainless steel blades are made of Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel

You know it rocks when a company has dedicated 130 years to make one knife! Opinel has other knives, but their stainless steel folding knife is the closest thing to flawless.

First, we have the blade made of Sandvick 12c27 stainless steel. This is a razor-sharp, hard, and corrosion-resistant steel with just enough carbon to make it stronger than typical stainless steel without making it prone to rust.

This knife is so rustproof that you can use it for food prep and fishing, and you can hand wash it after. The 2.87″ blade makes it great for rough cuts and quick whittling projects that don’t need details.

The next exceptional feature is the stainless Virobloc safety ring that locks the blade in place either when it’s in use or when you fold it. This makes it one of the safest carving knives to carry about.

The handle is made from beechwood, and you can apply your own protective coat as often as needed. While this is comfortable to hold, it isn’t meant for long hours of whittling.

What We Liked Most

  • It has a safety lock
  • Razor-sharp and easy to sharpen
  • Easy to carry
  • Corrosion-resistant

What Could Be Improved

  • Not suitable for detail work

9. Best Value Pocket Knife – Old Timer 24OT Splinter Carvin’ 6in

Old Timer 24OT 6in Folding Whittling Knife with Detail...
7,548 Reviews
Old Timer 24OT 6in Folding Whittling Knife with Detail...
  • DIMENSIONS: 6 inch (15.3 cm) overall length with a blade length of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) and a weight of 3.9 ounces
  • DURABLE: Blade is made of reliable 65Mn High Carbon Steel with a sawcut handle
  • DEPENDABLE: Quick and easy access with the convenient size, nail pulls, straight gouge, hook blade, v-scorp, gouge scorp and chisel making it ideal for carving and whittling

When you see a product called Old Timer, you half expect it to be dated and unusable. But, on the contrary, this is one of the most versatile and efficient wood carving knives you can find.

The major reason is you get six different blades instead of the standard three for pocket knives. And yes, the blades are actually useful and worth it.

These blades are made from high carbon steel and are tough and extremely sharp. As for the options, you get a straight gouge, nail pull, hook blade, v-scorp, gouge scorp, and chisel.

This makes this product not only perfect for whittling, but you can also use it for carving in the round and, to a lesser extent, carving reliefs.

Each blade is foldable and easy to pull out, although we still recommend you oil it as soon as you notice some stiffness. This splinter carving knife weighs just 2 ounces, making it very accessible.

One thing to be wary of is the blades are thin, so don’t use this for hardwood. However, if you do run into problems with this carving knife, it is covered by a lifetime warranty.

What We Liked Most

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Useful or different types of carving
  • It has a lifetime warranty
  • Very sharp and easy to maintain

What Could Be Improved

  • The blades will need oiling every few months
  • Not suitable for carving hardwood

10. Best Premium Wood Whittling Knife – Condor Tool & Knife

Condor Tool & Knife Otzi Knife | 1095 High Carbon Steel...
229 Reviews
Condor Tool & Knife Otzi Knife | 1095 High Carbon Steel...
  • AUTHENTIC CRAFTSMANSHIP: Crafted by skilled artisans drawing inspiration from the tools used during an era when humanity depended on nature for survival, this unique concealable knife is a modern variation of a classic design forged to exacting standards.
  • ERGONOMIC HICKORY HANDLE: The burnt American hickory handle is a blend of simple aesthetics and ergonomics providing a comfortable and secure grip, enhancing the ease of use of this battle belt knife making it functional and a joy to wield.
  • WELTED LEATHER SHEATH: Handcrafted with attention to detail and a classic aesthetic in mind, it facilitates safe and convenient carrying during activities, effectively protecting the small fixed blade knife with sheath from accidental exposure.

Now, we have ourselves a premium knife made for woodcarvers that appreciate style, beauty, and history. The Otzi knife was designed to mimic the type of knife the Iceman would have used thousands of years ago, and what they came up with is pretty cool.

The first thing that strikes you about this knife is the spear point blade. This is irregular for a carving knife, but not so much that it affects the quality of your work. You’ll also notice the indents on the blade that let you know this was hand forged.

1095HC steel was used to make the blade, making it one of the toughest. It comes with a sharp edge that lasts long, and it is pretty easy to sharpen when it gets dull.

However, this is a carbon steel knife, so it is vulnerable to rust. You should not wet this blade and should take great care to keep it away from humidity.

Fortunately, that is where the leather sheath comes in. This tool also has a lanyard, so you can wear it as a neck knife. The hickory handle with wire wrapping is surprisingly comfortable too.

This is a beautiful carving knife, but it does have a high price point, which is worth it given this is a one-of-a-kind carving knife.

What We Liked Most

  • Unique design
  • Very sharp edge
  • Easy to sharpen
  • It has a leather sheath and lanyard

What Could Be Improved

  • It is very prone to rust
  • It is quite small

11. Good Wood Carving Knife for Detail Carving – KAKURI Kiridashi Knife

KAKURI Kiridashi Knife Right Hand 18mm, Professional Razor...
  • JAPANESE KIRIDASHI MARKING KNIFE: Kiridashi Knife is a Japanese hand-forged utility knife for woodworking, bamboo craft, whittling, marking, deburring, pencil sharpening, paper cutting, leathercraft, and so on. The handy portable size is convenient for camping and outdoor as well. It is also used for bonsai (bonsai knife) and garden trees as a grafting tool in Japan.
  • BEAUTIFUL HAND-HAMMERED DESIGN: Non-slip body with a beautiful forged hammered pattern. Blacksmith hammers it one by one. You can use it for a lifetime by sharpening the blade. This is the ultimate knife for professional carpenters and DIYers alike to use for a long time.
  • RAZOR SHARP JAPANESE STEEL: Only Japanese high-grade steel is used. The blade is razor-sharp and durable, and you can restore the sharpness by sharpening with a whetstone. All KAKURI brand products are manufactured in Japan and handcrafted by Japanese professional craftsmen.

Finally, we have another stunning and unique tool. The Kakuri kiridashi knife is an elegant, distinct carving knife you’d be happy to add to your collection.

Made from Japanese high carbon steel, this is one of the toughest knives and is less vulnerable to rust than other carbon steels on our list.

You can use this for carving softwood and hardwood, as well as a wide range of other things, including pruning Bonsai trees. The all-steel body is non-slip, and you don’t need an external wooden handle.

The body has a hand-hammered design that is by far one of the rarest. The body is 7.3″ long, of which 1.9″ is for the blade.

The ultra-sharp edge helps you get incredible detail on even the most challenging projects, as long as you are right-handed, which is the biggest drawback of this knife.

Besides, you can use this blade for a lifetime, provided you sharpen it regularly with a whetstone.

What We Liked Most

  • Beautiful design
  • Made with Japanese carbon steel
  • Decent rust-resistance
  • Non-slip body

What Could Be Improved

  • Only for right-handed carvers

 12.Best Whittling Knife Set – Cor cordium Wood Whittling Kit

Wood Whittling Kit with Basswood Wood Blocks Gifts Set for...
  • 💯 【Knife with Wood】Our whittling kits include 3 kinds of whittling knives, 8 basswood woodblocks, and cutting gloves, which are very suitable for wood carving toolset for beginners in wood craftsmanship.
  • 👍 【Round and comfortable handle】The rounded handle is made of walnut wood and is coated with a layer of varnish on the surface, which makes the hand feel softer and will not feel tired after long-term use.
  • 💪 【Strong and sturdy】The sharp blade makes the wood carving knife easy to use. It also has a metal cap to hold the blade in place and prevent the blade and handle from breaking.

If you are searching for what many consider the acme of a premium wood carving tool set, the Cor cordium whittling kit is the way to go.

For the price, this wood whittling kit is hard to beat. Each comes with 3 different whittling knives, 8 basswood blocks, and cutting gloves. 

Besides being the most suitable option for newbie and seasoned wood carvers, each tool is exceptionally designed for whittling, starting from the tip to the handle. 

Each whittling knife features a rounded handle made from walnut wood and coated with a varnish finish. Their ergonomic design makes your hands feel comfortable, and you won’t tire after extended use.

The wood carving knife features sharp blades, which makes it easy to use. It also includes a metal cap that holds the blade in place, preventing it from breaking off the handle.

The kit also includes a pocket knife suite with an anti-roll belt to facilitate seamless carrying and easy storage. 

Moreover, in the pack, you’ll also find tamper-resistant gloves that protect you from scrapes and cuts. 

This makes you immune to most hazards you expose yourself to when working with wood carving knives and whittling tools.

You also don’t need to worry about the blades rusting. The suit collection includes a leather polishing mixture that ensures the blade’s smoothness and sharpness don’t deteriorate. 

You can offer this kit as a gift to your loved ones and let them experience the fun and intrigues of wood carving.

What We Liked Most

  • It is easy to carry
  • It is rustproof
  • Sharp blades
  • You can use it for different purposes
  • The best wood carving knife set

What Could Be Improved

  • Some quality issues

13. Best Whittling Knives for All Wood Types–  Wood Carving Whittling Knife BeaverCraft

Wood Carving Whittling Knife BeaverCraft C17P Whittling...
  • Wood Carving Knife For All Wood Types: handy and functional, it’s ready to work with soft and hard wood thanks to the tough blade so you won’t hesitate before working with harder wood types.
  • Whittling Knife For Intricate Details: in front of you is the Universal Detail Pro meaning it’s created specifically for making detailed carving easy, exciting and comfortable.
  • Wood Carving Tools Made in Europe: everything made by BeaverCraft, including accessories and various attributes for carving, is created in the biggest European country that is Ukraine.

BeaverCraft wood carving knives are a great stepping stone for those interested in wood carving and whittling. While inexpensive, don’t overlook this knife if you’re after a decent whittling tool on a budget. 

This is the best carving knife that works for all wood types. Besides being handy and functional, you can use it on hard and soft wood, thanks to its sturdy blade.

However, like every other good thing, there is a catch with the Beavercraft knife.

With their affordability and ease of use, the Beavercraft whittling knife is often sought after, making it hard to keep the knives in stock. Typically, expect a complete sell-out some hours after listing a new product.

The blades consist of hardened high-carbon steel that promises to remain sharp for a longer period and be easy to hone.

However, the blades are thicker than the standard knives, such as flexcut. This makes them an ideal choice for beginners since they are less likely to suffer damage from extensive misuse. 

It also features an easy-to-use and holds the ergonomic shaft. The handle has one flat side that prevents the knife from rolling over when placed on a flat or inclined surface.

Also known as the universal detail pro, we recommend this product for making intricate details. It is specially crafted to make detailed carving seamless, comfortable, and exciting. 

What We Liked Most

  • Ergonomic shaft
  • Rustproof
  • Affordable

What Could Be Improved

  • Thick blade

14. Best Carving Knife for Wood from Sloyd – Haawooky 2 Pack Wood Carving Tools

For a long time, Haawooky carving tools have been among the most sought after by woodcarvers. This makes it a reputable brand to work with regardless of your experience level.

The package comes with 1 crooked chip knife for whittling and a wooden hook knife. These high-quality products are razor sharp and come ready to use.

Their hard-to-beat price and excellent steel quality make it a hard tool to pass up. Moreover, the handle finish is comfortable for the hand, allowing you to work for extended periods.

Use the hook knife to hollow out spoons, bowls, kuska, and cups. With its highly polished 2.4-inch blade, you can make detailed cuts for your carving project.

The sloyd knife is a perfect tool for general whittling and roughing wood. With its thin pointed tip, you can make intricate cuts even in tight areas.

The knife handle consists of premium wood with an ergonomic design to allow wood carving without experiencing hand fatigue. 

With the stainless-steel blade, this carving tool will last for ages if you offer the right care and maintenance.

What We Liked Most

  • It comes ready for use
  • Durable
  • Easy to carry

What Could Be Improved

  • It is prone to rust
  • It requires special maintenance

Best Wood Carving Knives Comparison Table

Education: What You Need to Know Before Buying the Best Knife for Whittling

There are many different factors and features to consider before choosing a carving knife. The first place to start is the type of project you are working on and the type of knife suitable for each one.

Types of Wood Carving Projects


When most people think about wood carving, whittling comes to mind. After all, this is the traditional method of carving, long before we had mechanical or electric rotary carving tools.

It involves the use of only knives, so the finished product looks slightly jagged. With more practice and the right wood carving knives, you can make the project look smoother, but nothing compared to the next type of carving.

So, when you see a product described as a carving knife, this is what it is primarily used for.

Whittling is usually done on softwood, and any of the knives on our list can be used for whittling. For starters, you can check out the top whittling kit for beginners.

Carving in the round

Carving in the round is the most complete type of wood carving. It involves sculpting wood into a three-dimensional image finished to perfection.

So, unlike whittling, you may use sandpaper, chisels, gouges, and whatever other tool you need to achieve the desired aesthetic. You can also paint over your carved image.

Carving in the round is done on different sizes of wood and different types of wood, from basswood to oak. As such, you not only need more knife options than whittling, but you also need them to be stronger.

If you had only one knife for this project, it should ideally be a sloyd knife.

Chip carving

Now, we’re getting into more technical territory here. Unlike the aforementioned carving styles, chip carving is very technical. It requires a precise set of instruments named chip carving knives. 

Chip carving involves cutting chips out of a flat piece of wood, in effect carving into the wood, not around it. It involves a lot of pencil work and straight, geometric cuts. Of course, you may also use freeform techniques, but that is rarely the case.

Relief carving

If you thought chip carving seemed complex, welcome to the big leagues! Relief carving is arguably the most tasking type of wood carving.

It involves carving a 3-D image out of a flat black panel. It is almost like carving in the round, but you don’t go all the way. Instead, you start with a flat rectangular piece and carve, gouge and chisel into it until the design seems to stand on the wood.

When done right, relief carving creates marvelous designs that can be hung on walls or carved into doors, headboards, and other flat panels.

This carving method requires a lot of tools, and they can’t be cheap, as you often carve into stronger softwoods or hardwoods.

Tools for Wood Carving 

Now that we have covered the main types of wood carving, let’s look at the tools you’ll need.

For beginners, you check our best wood carving kit for beginners article.

The best knife for wood carving

  • Chip carving knife – this is a short-bladed knife usually no longer than 1.5 inches and is ideal for cutting chips and triangles into wood. It has a very sharp point and a curved back for better control and to ensure more precise cuts into the flat panel.
  • Sloyd knife – this is the most common type of knife and may be referred to as a carving knife and is the primary tool for whittling and carving in the round. It has a long blade of 2 to 3 inches, allowing you to lop off large chunks of wood quickly. It also has a sturdy, ergonomic handle that you can use for hours without hand fatigue.
  • Bench knife – once you’re done rough carving with a whittling knife, the bench knife or detail knife does the rest. The blade is usually 2 inches long or even shorter, so you are closer to the project and have more control.
  • Hook knife – a hook knife or a spoon knife is a curved tool for making spoons. However, it can be used on any project that needs shallow digs, like relief carving or shaping facial features when whittling.
  • Skew knife – a skew knife or micro skew is small, precise, and sharp. It comes in handy when the surface area is so small that even a 1″ knife could ruin it.

Wood carving chisels

Chisels need no introduction, as they are a carpenter’s best friend. However, wood carving chisels are much smaller than what you might be used to.

They are used to lop off large chunks of wood, but they are also used to make measured cuts when relief carving.

The two types of chisels used for wood carving are regular carpenter’s chisel (also called #1 sweep chisel) and skew chisel (also called #1S sweep chisel).

You would need different sizes for relief carving, and you may also use it for carving in the round if you’re working on large chunks of wood.

Wood carving gouges

A gouge is essentially a chisel with a curved tip. This shape allows you to achieve smoother cuts or digs when relief carving. The curved edge also means you can use gouges on a flat surface.

Gouges are so great that some people only use them and carving knives on reliefs with outstanding results.

Gouges are defined by the depth of their curve or sweep. So, again, it is worth having the full range of sweeps from #2 to #11.


Next in the chisel family is the v-tool. As the name implies, it is a v-shaped parting tool used to make stop cuts, sharp definitions, and add texture. The shape can be at a 45, 60, or 90-degree angle.

V-tools are used for carving in the round and relief carving. However, you can choose to use it for whittling, although we never advise.

Wood carving gloves

Here are the best wood carving gloves that we recommend.

How to Choose A Good Knife for Whittling

To get the most out of whittling, you need to have the best knife for carving wood; here are some tips on choosing the right one for you.

Project type

The first thing to consider when choosing a knife is what you want to use it for. This means not only the type of wood carving – whittling, carving in the rounds, etc. – but also the type of wood you will work on.

The stricter your requirements are, the narrower your options get. For example, if you’re happily whittling a stick, you can use any of the whittling knives on our list.

However, if you’re going to carve hardwood, you need something stronger like the Morakniv or the BPS Bushcraft knife. If you don’t know what you’d get into, the Old Timer provides different knives to suit a wide range of projects.

Blade material

A woodworking knife is only as good as its blade. That is why companies spend a lot of time and research developing stronger, sharper, and longer-lasting materials.

A good whittling knife should be made from steel. This can be a high carbon steel blade or a stainless steel blade. Carbon steel blades are stronger than stainless steel and remain sharper for longer. However, stainless steel blades are rustproof and are easy to sharpen.

If you are going to use your whittling knife in humid conditions or food prep when camping, get a stainless steel blade.

Handle build and feel

Just as important as the blade is the ergonomics. A whittling knife should be comfortable to handle because you will be using it for hours at a time. That is why the shape and material are important. For example, solid wooden handles put less strain on your palm.

So, while the Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack and the Kakuri have a pleasant feel, you will get hand fatigue if you don’t take a break every couple of hours.

Carving location

Where you plan on doing most of your carving is another crucial factor. This will determine the size of the knife, its packaging, and ease of carrying.

If you work strictly in your woodshop, you may not need a knife with a sheath. However, safety is a concern if you do a lot of outdoor whittling.

Get a knife with a sheath like the Morakniv or Condor. You can opt instead for a pocket knife or the Bushcraft if you’ll also be making fires and hunting.


Last and arguably least is the price. Quite often, the price is a strong indicator of the quality, but not always. For example, the Condor is more expensive than most other options but isn’t as strong or reliable as the much cheaper Morakniv.

The flip side is you shouldn’t opt for a knife because it is the cheapest unless you don’t mind if it lasts only for a few sessions. Ensure the whittling knife meets all of the requirements you need before deciding on the price.

Make Carving Look Easy with the best Carving Knives for Wood

Wood carving is a fun, stress-reducing, and profitable skill to learn. However, you need to best carving knife to make the process fun.

You need a sharp, dependable blade that can easily work on different types of wood, an ergonomic handle, and a trustworthy brand.

The clear winner in this situation is the Morakniv. It meets all of the criteria needed, and it also has a sheath to ease mobility. We also like the Old Timer for beginners especially, due to its varied applications.

With your whittling knife in hand, here are the four wood carving techniques you’ll need to master.

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