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Carving Knives

There's a huge field of knife carving: whittling. That's not what I do. My background in in traditional European carving using carving with two hands.

Nevertheless, I do use knives occasionally: cleaning up the tight bits at the back of carvings, either when they, say, have been released from a paper sandwich or after backcutting.

So here are my thoughts on the best sort of knife for this work, best and safest ways of working with it and sharpening.


The knives I am using here are made by Beaver Craft: and have found them as good as you can get.

Here's a link to the knives at Beaver Craft Tools that appear on our video:

I have no financial or other vested interest in Beaver Craft. There are other makes of carving knives to be had by a search online. 


| 23 August 2023 14:32

Tonya - Welcome! All the best with your carving.

Use a non-drying mineral oil, such as used for door hinges, sewing machines or bicycle chains etc., rather than a vegetable one (olive, sunflower etc) that will dry and clog your stones.
You can thin the oil with a little paraffin/benzene for sharper action on the stone.

Strops: Yes, leather. Put 'strop' into the videos search box and you'll find a little series about them.

| 22 August 2023 16:45

Hi Chris, I am new to carving and this group. Does it matter what type of oil you use? Also, is the bench strop a piece of leather?

| 22 May 2022 22:40

I've whittled for many years and found that the best protection from accidentally cutting the hand holding the wood is an inexpensive leather work glove wrapped with about 6 layers of masking tape (paper tape) on the thumb and index finger where the most danger is. It is stab proof, cut proof, and inexpensive. Add more tape as it wears away. You'll get comments about being cheap or make shift but it gives better protection than any of the commercial cut proof gloves I've tried.

| 09 September 2021 16:50

Uldis - Thank you very much for posting that advice.
In many ways I think working with knives is more hazardous than working with carving tools!

| 23 August 2021 19:51

As an alternative for duck tape (I am not representing any company or getting any financial benefits, just wanted to share alternative ways for protecting): (BeaverCraft NCT6)
And do remember, all these gloves, tapes etc are just guard against cuts. If you stab or push your knife into the tape you can still break through into your finger!
So always be careful and think about where knife will go. You must be in charge of its movement and control it. And don't ever use too much force so your knife waves around in random way. As I do whittling as well, learned the hard way how to handle knives!

| 25 June 2021 10:46

Lourens - I've little experience of knives in this context but, if you can do it, there's no reason not to!

| 19 June 2021 21:10

Chris, what are your thoughts on using a knife for 'setting in' like the Heraldic Lion. I do have some gouges, but they don't all fit, especially the short pieces on the legs. What is the difference between slicing in with a gouge vs slicing with a knife?

| 25 November 2020 21:11

Imran - Ouch! I don't think there is much you can do except grind the blade back to the end profile you want and resharpen. You'll just have a shorter knife...
These blades are indeed thin, so take care not to overheat the metal on your grinder!

| 24 November 2020 13:56

Thanks for the video. Hope all is well. Would you have any tips to repair the tip of a broken knife? I have a Pfeil knife and somehow managed to break the tip. I find the blade on the knife much thinner and pliable than my regular carving gouges. Any recommendations on repairing the tip of the knife would be very helpful. Thank you

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