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Tutorial: how to choose a whittling knife

Tutorial: how to choose a whittling knife

In the article: “how to start a woodcarving project” I glossed over several important topics saying that I would deal with them one piece at a time. And here we are, today is the perfect day to start delving into an important and fundamental topic like how to choose a whittling knife.

How many times have you asked yourself, which knife should I buy? The long-awaited answer is here. And as a super bonus it comes straight from the words of an expert! Drum roll, Vladimir from Home Wood Spirit is back!

For those who hear this name for the first time, I recommend reading the article: “Home Wood Spirit, the interview“. For all the others who know him and appreciate his constant work every day as a youtuber and carving teacher, here is his article!

Which whittling knife should I buy?

It is good to be sure that we are working with proper whittling knife to enjoy this hobby to its maximum. No one wants to get frustrated because of wrong choice. And it is very easy to get lost in the huge pile of different types of knives out there. For this reason I have prepared short guide, which will reveal the secret behind…

 THE ONE: the “best” whittling knife!

Let‘s talk about knives!

First step to whittling for most people is about buying a good quality knife. But which one should we choose from the huge  pile of knives on the market? 

Different type of carving = different type of knife

It is good to know that not every knife is suitable for whittling. Basically there are 3 options: 

  • Chip carving (ornamental decorative carving with special  types of knives and chisels)
  • Bushcraft carving (carving out of green wood usually with  robust knives like Mora knife)  
  • Whittling (detail carving of little figures and objects from soft dry wood – mostly from basswood/European lime)

Whittling knives today

There are pretty much 2 options in whittling: 

  DESCRIPTIONS ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
POCKET KNIFE In general it is a foding knife ideally with locking blade for safety reasons The knife is small while folded and safe in the pocket

Easy to carry
It can be bulky in hand when there is lot of knives and  other chisels

Uncomfortable holding when whittling for longer period
STANDARD WHITTLING KNIFE Finally knives which I would like to point to. From my experience and  observations this is so far the most suitable knife for  classical whittling of small figures and other wee objects.  It is suitable both for beginners and for veterans It is nice to hold  

The blade holds firmly in the handle
It is quite long and therefore worse to carry

Whittling knife features 

  • Handle – It is quite individual here mostly because of the  size of our hands. Big hands = big handle…etc. Medium size  usually fits to everyone. It is very individual ergonomically as well.
    • My personal  preference is straight handle, then some kind of oval shape. 
  •  Blade – There is endless amount of knife blades on the market. Basically everything between 1-2 inches (25-50mm)  is OK. Any longer is too long for carving with the tip of the  knife and any shorter is too short for rough cuts. 
    • The most universal and useful type of blade from my  experience is 1 1⁄2 inch long knife with straight blade and a  nice pointy tip for details. Plus it has V shape from crosscut  view. I am able to do 95% work with such a knife.  

Best whittling knife brands 

THE ONE – If there is one type of knife which is optimal  both for beginning whittlers and for professionals, knife  which last for ages and is very likeable, knife which holds the  edge and is pleasure to work with, then I would personally go  with one of these 4 options: 

1) Helvie 1 1⁄2 pollici – 1 5/8 pollici (38mm-42mm) 

2)OCC 1 1⁄2 pollici – 1 5/8 pollici (38mm-42mm) 

3)Drake 1 1⁄2 pollici – 1 5/8 pollici (38mm-42mm) 

4) Flexcut coltello da dettagli 1 1⁄2 pollici (38mm)



  • Did you like Vladimir’s article?
  • Would you like to read interesting and detailed articles like this one?
  • Or even better, would you like to have printable patterns for your new projects?

Nothing could be simpler, just click here or on the red button with the big G and you will be able to visit Vladimir’s blog, subscribe to his newsletter and they will automatically arrive directly in your email! 

Don’t miss this opportunity! 


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