7 Types of Wood Carving & Whittling Knives and Uses

By Kevin Kessinger •  Updated: 06/27/23 • 

When it comes to wood carving and whittling, there are different types of wood carving knives. The different types of wood carving knives are suitable for different purposes. Each knife is crucial for a different purpose.

1. Sloyd Knives

This is a general-purpose wood carving knife that originated in Sweden. A Sloyd knife is easier to sharpen and maintain because of the straight shape of the blade. You can use a Sloyd knife to roughen wood or even carve smaller details into your projects.

Wood Carving a Knight on a Horse Using a Sloyd Knife

Wood Carving a Knight on a Horse Using a Sloyd Knife

Sloyd knives are also more comfortable and easier to hold because the design of the handle is bigger. While Sloyd knives are great for everyday carving, I usually use them for roughing out wood carvings or removing large sections of wood. They are great for whittling if you don’t prefer a pocket knife.

2. Bench Carving Knives

Bench knives in wood carving are great for whittling or chip carving. A bench knife is great for also carving small wood carvings and carving out intricate details on a carving. It is a beginner-friendly knife you can use to get started in wood carving easily.

Wood Carving Knife on Basswood

Wood Carving Knife on Basswood

Bench knives usually have a large handle, and the blade is between 1 to 2 inches. This is a common wood carving knife and should be your go-to knife for smaller wood carvings or finer details.

3. Chip Carving Knives

If you want to get into chip carving, chip carving knives are what you’ll use to carve or decorate your wood or carvings. Chip carving knives allow a carver to remove pieces of wood (chips) from wood to create designs.

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Chip carving knives usually elongated blades that are sharply pointed to easily make incisions or precise cuts to remove wood chips in different shapes and designs. If you want to get into chip carving, check out the Flexcut KN115 chip carving set.

4. Scoop and Hook Knives

Also known as spoon carving knives, scoop, and hook knives are rounded or bent, allowing the wood carver to create a rounded and hollowing cut on wood carvings. Scoop and hook knives are usually used for carving out a bowl of wooden spoons or bowls.

Using a Hook Knife to Hollow Out a Spoon

Using a Hook Knife to Hollow Out a Spoon

Most spoon carving knives are double-edged, allowing you to make cuts in both directions to achieve delicate refinements and deep and hollowing cuts.

BeaverCraft Tools Hook Knife

BeaverCraft Tools Hook Knife

5. Whittling Pocket Knives

Whittling is an art of wood carving that you can do almost anywhere. This means your whittling knife should be portable and easy to carry, and nothing beats the convenience and portability of a pocket knife.

Old Timer 24OT Splinter

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Most pocket knives come with two or more blades, reducing the need for different pocket knives for wood carving. The bigger blade is great for roughing out wood and shaping, while the smaller blade makes small and intricate details. See our best pocket knives for whittling.

6. Wood Carving Detail Knives

Detail wood carving knives are great for carving out those tight places with better precision and control. The blade of a detail knife is thinner and more pointed to enable it to cut finer details without much hassle easily.

Work slowly using a wood carving detail knife because its thin blades are likelier to break. Avoid using much force or roughing out using a detail knife. Use them only for delicate cavities and details.

7. Drawknife

This traditional woodworking knife is used to remove larger slices of wood on a flat surface or create a flat surface. They are great in wood carving, where you want to remove more material or shape the wood before getting down to detailing and intricate designs.

Morankiv Drawknife and Sloyd Knife

Morankiv Drawknife and Sloyd Knife

The design of a drawknife is unlike wood carving knives and features a blade with handles on each end. The handles of a drawknife face the user, and the knife is pulled toward the user to create a slicing cut. The blade of the drawknife can come in various curvatures, including straight, curved, and folding ones, which is great for different woodworking applications.

Kevin Kessinger

Kev is the founder of Pro Wood Carving and has been carving spoons, small pieces, and whittling since his teenage years. He has continued to level up his wood carving skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other wood carvers. He launched Pro Wood Carving in 2021 to make wood carving more approachable for everyone looking to improve their skills.