The very best wood carving knives 

Comfortable, high-quality knives that really hold an edge.

On the hunt for the best wood carving knives? Whether you're a beginner just putting your fingers into the world of wood carving, or a seasoned carver searching for a better knife, finding the right tool is important.

Best wood carving knives

Every stroke of your knife impacts the work you create! 

Choosing a perfect knife is all about finding perfect synergy. It's less about the look of your knife and more about how well you and your knife move in sync.

Selecting the best carving knife is always a highly personal endeavor.  There may be some trial and error until you find the right blades and handles that work for you. But trying new knives is half the fun of wood carving! 

You’ll learn something from every knife that you try and will be able to hone in on what you really desire in your wood carving knives. The knives I use today are very different from the knives I first started with. 

Please know that I only recommend knives that I personally use, love, and swear by.

This article will provide my recommendations first. Then I will provide some key points to consider (at the end of this page) so you will feel both prepared and excited about your knife-buying journey.

Best wood carving knives for beginners

I highly recommend Focuser Carving knives for beginner wood carvers. Why? Because they cut well, are super sturdy, and really hold their edge. They are also readily available, which is another big plus these days.

Focuser Carving knives are also outstanding in terms of the comfort they provide and their ease of use. I can vouch for their high standard of excellence.

These knives are made from quality materials with ultra-sharp blades that stay sharp even after extended use.  A lot of woodcarvers I follow on Instagram use them. I like them so much that I joined their affiliate program.  

I tend to be rough on my knives, which is why I really love this sturdy FC001 Focuser Carving wood carving knife.This is the one I reach for when I’m afraid I might break a tip, which is why it's so great for beginner wood carvers. I also like it for carving details once I‘ve roughed out a piece.  You can get the FC001 wood carving knife here (affiliate link).

All I can say is “wow, wow, wow” about this Focuser Carving chip carving knife.  

I do not do traditional chip carving, but I do make a lot of pyramid (triangle) cuts when I'm carving to create shadows.  

What a difference this knife makes to get nice, clean pyramid cuts!  It is a super sturdy knife too.  

This knife is definitely the one I reach for whenever a pyramid cut is required.  You can get the FC016 knife here (affiliate link).  

P.S. If you buy any of the Focuser Carving knives using the affiliate links on this page you will also be supporting this website.  Thank you! 

Best wood carving knives worth the wait

There is typically a very long wait list for ordering Helvie knives but I can tell you from experience that they are really worth the wait!   

eBay is another option to try but you will end up paying 4 times as much or even more. 

Using wood clamp for carvingHelvie Blake Lunsford knife

One of my go-to knives these days is the Helvie Blake Lunsford signature knife, which I won during an auction sponsored by the International Association of Wood Carvers, which Lunsford helped create. 

It provides a sweet carve for just about everything, from removing wood to carving details. 

Helvie hoggerThe Helvie Hogger

The Helvie Hogger is a true workhorse when it comes to removing wood and roughing out pieces.  

The handle is super comfortable, too. 

Helvie detail knifeHelvie detail knife

Of course, my best wood carving knives list wouldn’t be complete without a Helvie detail knife!

This little guy is super sharp and cuts like butter. 

Best wood carving knives for details

Deep Holller Knives slim knife

This 1.5 inch slim knife from Deep Holler Knives is wonderful for carving details.

Plus, the long, slo, blade is awesome for slipping easily into tight places. 

It's a lot of fun to carve with! 

OCC Tools detail knifeOCCT Tools detail knife

This OCC Tools detail knife may be little, but it delivers big results when you need to carve small details.

The blade is a half inch.

Best wood carving knives for flat plane carving

The Harley knifeHarley knife

The Harley knife from Pinewood Forge is wonderful for flat plane carving.  Mine is 2 inches long. 

It is definitely one of the best wood carving knives to own and sometimes hard to find.

If you want more information about flat plane carving, check out our guide.

OCC Tools straight knifeLarger OCC Tools straight knife

OCC Tools makes several straight knives that are also great for flat plane carving.  

This type of knife also helps prevent wood from crumbling on smaller basswood blocks that I often use.

This knife has a 1 7/8-inch blade.  I use it often on small caricature faces.  

Best wood carving knives for cleaning up cuts

Deepwoods Ventures butter knifeDeepwoods Ventures butter knife

This butter knife from Deepwoods Ventures is awesome for deepening and/or cleaning up cuts prior to painting.  

There are two sizes available (1-inch and 1 3/4-inch).  

The smaller size (1 inch) is perfect for the type of carvings I design. 

Best wood carving knives that fold up

Flexcut Pocket JackPocket Jack from Flexcut

The Flexcut Pocket Jack is perfect to throw into a backpack for the weekend.  It keeps a nice edge and has several gouges.  

Another plus is that it locks into place for safety.  

I saved a few bucks on shipping by getting my Flexcut Pocket Jack (affiliate link) on Amazon (be sure it is from Flexcut directly).

Best wood carving knives for spoon carving

Mora spoon carving knifeMora spoon carving knife

Mora makes wonderful spoon knives (both for left and right handed carvers) and it is great to have one in your toolbox.  Comes in handy when you need to scoop some wood out. 

You can get them on Amazon (affiliate link).

Points to consider before you buy

Just like buying a good pair of shoes is crucial for a marathon, a comfortable carving knife is a must-have, especially when you spend hours wood carving.

Look for a knife that feels balanced and maneuverable in your hand. I have small hands, and when I started wood carving, I thought a small knife handle would be better for me.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  The knives I reach for today have much bigger handles.  Larger handles may also be more comfortable for those with arthritis. 

A wood handle offers a traditional aesthetic and feel. But don't be afraid to look into other types of handles, including different shapes. 

Some handles are basic while others may include bright colors or wood-burned details.  However, some of my favorite knives have very plain handles.

Fixed blade versus a folding blade

A fixed blade is glued or epoxied into the handle.  Think of it as an all-in-one knife.  A folding knife—like the Flexcut Pocket Jack knife I recommend—folds up. 

Folding knives are great for backpacking trips when you want to carve but don’t want to carry a full-size knife.

When I’m carving for hours, however, I prefer using a fixed blade.  It’s more comfortable, easier on my hands, and it holds an edge better.  

Blade size

Understand that your knife needs may change as your wood carving skills improve.

When I first started carving, I reserved my big blades (1.75 to 2 inches) for roughout work and switched to smaller blades for details.  Today, I can use my bigger blades on just about anything. 

How well does the blade hold an edge?

Make sure the knife you choose is easy to sharpen and retains its edge. A sharp knife makes carving a joy, and adds to your safety.  A knife that doesn't hold an edge is downright annoying. 

The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to a lot of wood carving knives. 

I’ve seen people buy “bargains” only to be sorely disappointed. The best wood carving knives might cost a bit extra but they are so worth it! 

You will end up with a knife that will last for many years, maintain its sharpness, and provide phenomenal precision and control.

Summary of best wood carving knives

  • With a trusty knife in hand and a piece of wood waiting for your creativity to carve it to life, the world of wood carving is yours to explore!
  • The process of selecting the best wood carving knives should be treated with due importance because it will largely determine your carving experience.
  • Comfort, quality of materials, design, price, safety, and personal preference are some of the key considerations that can guide your decision.
  • I stand by Focuser Carving knives. I use them, love them, and wholeheartedly recommend them to wood carvers, especially beginners.

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