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To keep it short, whittling is often considered as a classic hobby that offers its practitioners peace of mind and physical rewards. This activity involves cutting and carving wood pieces with the help of a knife which has a considerable influence on the final result. Therefore, from novice whittlers to seasoned pros, picking a suitable whittling knife is an important issue, it would make or break the project. In the case you are new to the craft and want to obtain the best whittling knife on the market, you come to right place. Down below is a couple of quality examples along with comprehensive shopping instructions, check them out to make a wise investment.
|Best Whittling Knives||Steel||Type of Blade||Blade Length||Price||Review|
|Morakniv 11863||Carbon||Fixed||4.1 inches||$$||*****|
|Opinel Carbon Steel||Carbon||Folding||2.76 - 4.72 inches||$$||****|
|Opinel Stainless Steel||Stainless||Folding||2.76 - 4.72 inches||$$||****|
|Flexcut KN12||Carbon||Fixed||1.25 inches||$$||****|
|Morakniv Wood Carving 120||Laminated with|
a Carbon core
|Flexcut JKN91||Carbon||Folding||1.5 inches||$$$$$||****|
|Flexcut JKN88 Whittlin' Jack||Carbon||Folding||1.5 inches||$$$||****|
|Flexcut KN300||Carbon||Fixed||1.25 inches||$$$||***|
|Morakniv 164 Hook Knife||Carbon||Fixed||2.0 inches||$$$||****|
|Flexcut JKN89 Pocket Jack||Carbon||Folding||1.5 inches||$$$$||****|
There many whittling knives you can choose from with different shapes and different sizes. Because of personal preferences, the best whittling knife to someone else could appear to be inadequate in your case. That is why you must not make a purchase before you have a firm grasp on available choices and your own demands. To buy something without proper consideration could make you waste money for little gain so be careful. Always remember to include your needs and requirements into the selection processes in order to come up with a logical decision. That being said, now let’s takes a look at the specifications and reviews of popular whittling knives.
Morakniv is a well-known brand in the knife industry due to their quality yet affordable products and Companion Carbon MG is not an exception. Its small and slim profile possesses commendable portability so you could take it along with you on an outdoor trip. The hard rubber handle let the user makes very precise cuts and comfortable to hold. These factors make the knife very handy in a whittling project where accuracy and control are essential. Besides the knife itself, you would receive a belt clip – attached polymer sheath with a bottom drainage hole that is quite convenient by the way.
Morakniv Companion Carbon MG utilizes high strength carbon for its blade, edge retention and overall resistance are fair but it nonetheless needs regular maintenance. You should wipe and oil the blade after each use to prevent things like rust and corrosion. It’s much easier to sharpen than its stainless steel cousin though.
The HRC of the carbon blade is around 58 – 60 so you could use it to good effect as a whittling knife. With the 4.1 inch blade, the knife would have an easy time carving and slicing any wood pieces you can find.
About the performance, the Morakniv knife holds up together very well with no crack or chip in continuous use.
As long as you sharpen the blade for a bit after every 20 to 30 minutes of wood carving then there is nothing to worry. Because the blade is designed to handle heavy activity, you could get a lot of work done in a blink of an eye. Keep its blade away from moisture and Morakniv Companion Carbon MG would stick around for a long time. In term of all-around application, this is among the best whittling knives you can ever get.
Though the French product has no fancy features and alike, Opinel N°08 Carbon does possess practical design and simple operation. As a result, the knife earns a well-deserved reputation as one the best whittling knives money can buy due to its robust performance. The Opinel knife has 5 pieces: The handle, the blade, the pin, the collar and the Virobloc lock, these components are carefully assembled. Opinel N°08 mobility is superb thanks to its limited weight and humble dimension. You should be able to wield and carry the knife with no issue at all.
The knife blade is made from carbon steel so it’s easy to sharpen, tough and could get rusty without sufficient maintenance after usage. Its edge retention is subpar yet all it takes is 10 minute of sharpening to transform the blade from dull to super sharp. The steel softness allows it to recover from abuse rather well and it also tends to roll instead of chip. In case you decide to bring tools like magnesium fire starter or flint, the Opinel N°08 excellent spine would come in handy. Generally, just take care of the blade regularly and the knife should serve you well.
For the curve handle, Opinel N°08 makes use of Beech wood which offers decent traction though other modem considerations are absent. The knife nail mark indicates two-handed operation so don’t expect to deploy the blade with one hand. Since the blade is secure deep within the handle, there isn’t enough space for your thumb to gain traction. Its opening process is smooth and straightforward nonetheless but could be a bit tricky when the wooden material gets swollen. The Virobloc is quite reliable and similar to the blade deployment, you have to use both of your hand to engage the lock.
Should you like the idea behind Opinel N°08 Carbon but want something with more resistance then Opinel N°08 Stainless is the perfect alternative. The knife blade employs stainless steel instead of carbon one and wit addition of chrome, it’s now anti-corrosive. There is still some carbon content left in the blade, around 0.40%, which offers nice cutting ability. Compare to N°08 Carbon, N°08 Stainless is considerably more expensive but it requires no special maintenance. For people in need of a tough whittling tool, the knife is a good choice.
Same as Opinel N°08 Carbon, Opinel N°08 Stainless also use a wooden handle that made of Beech, it’s comfortable to work with. However, wood is easily influenced by the working condition so the knife handle could swell or contract a bit from time to time. This phenomenon would impact the component tightness but for most of the time, it should not make the knife unusable because it’s temporary. To be safe, always store the knife in a dry place and never leave it in a damp or wet condition for long.
While Opinel N°08 Stainless is indeed a quality product, you still have to maintain it and grease everything on a regular basis. The best whittling knife could still fail if you don’t keep the knife component in good shape so be careful. Pay special attention to the Virobloc lock since the knife operation relies on it, there are two parts: one sliding and one fixed. The Virobloc lock is used to secure the blade in position so a malfunction here would put an end to the knife usefulness. When a sharpening is needed, wipe clean the knife blade and hold the sharpening stone at roughly 20-degree angle from the blade.
Come with a 1.5-inch carbon blade, ergonomic handle and reasonable cost, Flexcut KN12 is a versatile tool for people that recently pick up whittling. Its user-friendly blade shafts and super sharp cutting edges allow you to have a firm control over the cut at all times. The blade of each knife is carefully manufactured from high carbon steel in order to achieve ideal sharpness and hardness. Before delivery, the factory hand sharpen the blade and test the knife performance so that only flawless products could reach customer’s hand.
To minimize hand fatigue, the Flexcut KN12 handle is designed to be held comfortably by your hand for an extended amount of time. Couple with the sharp blade, you could get a lot of work done with this knife which makes it a cost-effective investment. Even season pro come to appreciate the knife flexibility, you could see it as a general purpose tool with a multitude of application. Should you intend to start of a collection of whittling knife of your own then you must consider including Flexcut KN12 in it. The knife cheap acquisition cost should let you acquire it without straining your wallet in the process.
Since the blade of the knife utilizes carbon steel, there is a couple of issues you have to pay attention to. You may need to sharpen it regularly due to the fact that the blade cannot hold its edge for very long. It’s not a complicated process though so you restore the blade sharpness rather quick. Oil and wipe clean the knife after each use to protect it from possible corrosion. Flexcut KN12 does not have replaceable blades so keep the edge sharp and it would stick around for years to come.
Also come from Morakniv, Wood Carving 120 can be used with good results in extended whittling projects since it doesn’t need regular sharpening. The 60mm blade length and 2.7mm blade thickness allow you to achieve flawless wood carving without any problem. Because the blade makes use of laminated steel, edge retention and overall sharpness are very good in heavy use condition. For the handle, Wood Carving 120 utilizes oiled birch wood to make it feel natural and comfortable to hold in your hand. The wide rounded shape of the wooden offer tight grip and accurate control as well.
Given the performance and feature of Wood Carving 120, its price tag is quite acceptable to most people. The knife is durable and could sustain prolonged use so you shall obtain good value for money. Due to its excellent carving characteristic, the knife should make complicated whiting jobs much easier. These advantages made the Morakniv product among the best whittling knives available for purchase. As a proof of the manufacturer confidence, Morakniv is willing to back Wood Carving 120 with a limited lifetime warranty.
An innovative design with 6 folding blades, the JKN91 Right-Handed Carvin’ Jack is a unique tool that offers its user respectable versatility. All the blades utilize 1095 carbon steel and well sharpened so you could use it right out of the package. Because the blades are neatly folded in the closed position, the JKN91 Right-Handed Carvin’ Jack is a portable compact pocket knife. You would have a chance to carve some wood pieces no matter where you are with the jack by your side. Instead of a complicated and sizable set of tool, you could perform numerous whittling projects using the JKN91 Right-Handed Carvin’ Jack alone.
The blades of JKN91 Right-Handed Carvin’ Jack are as follow: Chisel, V-Scorp, Straight Gouge, Gouge Scorp, Hook Knife and Detail Knife. When you purchase the jack, you would also receive a sharpening strop, a leather pouch and a Flexcut Gold polishing compound. Though the price of JKN91 is rather high, its flexibility and mobility are premium class, not many products could match its versatile performance. The jack is pretty much a folding toolbox of super sharp and long-lasting tools that every whittler would love to own.
While the utility of JKN88 is not as good as JKN91, it has a much more affordable price along with many strong points. Similar to its Flexcut cousin, the jack possesses a compact body with foldable blades: a 1.5-inch Detail Knife and a 2-inch Roughing Knife. These blades are really sharp and long lasting but since they have no curve on them, you cannot use the blades to scoop. The jack 4 inch closed length and 5-ounce weight mean you could barely notice the JKN88 presence in your pocket.
In general, the blades operate smoothly, you should have little trouble manipulating them but do remember that they do not lock in place. The jack ergonomic handle permits the user to achieve a tight grip and offers admirable control over the blades movement. A combination of wooden material and aluminum frame give JKN88 a classic appearance yet durable enough to withstand regular use without fail. In term of cost, JKN88 is considerably cheaper than JKN91 yet its price tag is still considerably higher than other products in the field.
Consist of a KN27 Mini-Detail Knife and a KN13 Detail Knife, KN300 offer you 2 of best whittling knives from Flexcut. These knives have sharp blades, comfortable handles and fully ambidextrous so almost everyone can put them to use with ease. Thanks to the use of carbon, KN300 blades are hard, sharp and last for a long time if you could maintain them properly. The blades are pre-sharpened carefully before final delivery so the knives can be used the moment you receive them. A bar of Flexcut Gold polishing compound would be provided with the KN300 Whittler’s Kit.
For novice whittlers, KN27 and KN13 are excellent tools, the knives forgiving to wield and they would help to improve their whittling skill. Season pros also come to like these knives flexibility as well, especially when there is a need for precise carving. So by purchasing the KN300 Whittler’s Kit, you would get both KN27 and KN13 at a reasonable price. Flexcut ensures their US made products to be flawless and back them with a lifetime warranty. In case you spot a defect, Flexcut is willing to send you a replacement free of charge.
Come with a sturdy carbon blade, Morakniv 164 Hook Knife is able to tackle the hardest wood you could find. Its one of a kind curve blade lets you create rounded edges or perform detailing works with little effort. The blade of the knife is single edged which mean you could push and pull with one hand for improved control. Due to its lightweight body, it’s a breeze to manipulate the knife in a manner that suits your current requirements. The oiled birch handle provides the user with admirable grip given its compact size.
Featuring 4 foldable blades, the JKN89 Pocket Jack is another multi-tool of Flexcut with excellent versatility and mobility. The jack blades include: Gouge Scorp, Straight Gouge, V-Scorp and Detail Knife, all are logically placed to offer simple and smooth operation. For the steel, JKN89 employs high strength carbon that is sharp and tough so the blades would swiftly go through the average wood. The jack handle is made to be used comfortably by both left and right handed user, its grip is top notch as well. Compare to other whittling tools, JKN89 is quite pricey but its performance would not disappoint you
The heart and soul of a whittling knife lie within its blade so the choice of blade steel is a factor you have to take into account. It would decide the knife ability to cut and slice so you better make sure the blade choose a quality steel type. On the Rockwell scale, the steel hardness of the best whittling knife should be between 58 and 62. Go below 58 and the blade could be too soft to achieve a razor sharp edge, edge retention is also not very good. On the other hand, should the blade hardness is above 62 then the blade would be too hard and tend to chip or even snap. To prevent snapping, some manufacturers sandwiched hard steels with soft steels.
Whittling requires a high degree of precision and control which mean you should closely exam the design of the knife handle. It should have an ergonomic construction that let you achieve a tight grip without fail. Whittling projects shall take a good amount of time and effort to complete so stay away from odd shape handles which exacerbate fatigue. Whittling knives with effective handles should permit excellent precise blade movement in a complex project without tiring out your hand. For most of the time, whittlers often go after wooden or rubber handles because they are comfortable to hold and possess good grip.
It’s highly recommended that you get a whittling knife that fits in your palm, this particular size let you maneuver the knife easily. Compact – sized knives are simple to carry across long distance without weighing you down or taking up inventory space. A long thin blade without too much belly should let you make better cuts compare to other design. Hilt and blade guard are optional though some people feel that they are simply redundant or outright obstacles. If you want to buy a folding knife, make sure the product you like has solid snaps or reliable locks. As a whole, flexibility and portability are two essential criterions of a whittling knife.
In the usual case, a whittling knife could cost you anywhere between $10 and $50, depending on the quality you are aiming for. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to get the most expensive product on the shelf, especially when you are just a beginner. There are always affordable whittling knives around and these products would serve novice whittlers rather well. When you have become more experienced at whittling, you can consider buying high end whittling knives to meet your needs. However, premium grade products would require you to pay a considerable amount of money to get them.
There are two types of wood you can use in a whittling project: Hardwood and Softwood. Whittling beginners are usually advised to use softwood in their projects to gather experience due to its forgiving characteristics. It’s easy to carve, dig and slice softwoods like basswood or balsa as you see fit, they are available in various sizes too. After you get the hang of the technique, you could start using hardwoods like butternut which is a bit tricky to deal with at first. Generally, all market whittling knives should have an easy time going through the average wood pieces.
While it’s surely not perfect in every way, the Morakniv knife versatility and ease of use are well liked by many users around the globe. The cheap acquisition cost also makes it an economical choice, you could get it at a reasonable price. Take good care of it and the knife would not let you down.
In case you hate to see rust on your whittling tool, the French made Opinel N°08 Stainless would be an ideal investment. While you could experience certain issues with the knife wooden handle, Opinel N°08 Stainless is nonetheless a sharp and tough product. It only requires a minimum amount of maintenance and the knife should last for years to come.
I hope this guide was detailed and helpful enough for finding the best whittling knife to fit your needs.
To put it plainly, whittling mostly involve carving a piece of wood using a knife in order to create a particular design. As there is no such thing as general rules in the craft, whittling projects could be anything: a face, a shape, a sculpture… So what are the differences between whittling and wood carving? Well, whittling requires almost zero skill so everyone would have no trouble getting into whittling in a matter of minutes. Of course, you still have to familiarize yourself with some issues but generally speaking, whittling is simpler than wood carving.
For people that have a creative mind and times to spare, whittling is an excellent hobby that requires no frills. Get a piece of wood, a knife and you could start whittling at your leisure. In addition to that, a lot of practitioners feel that whittling let them calm down and release pent-up stresses. Nowadays, we all have to face various challenges which often place significant strain our mental as well as physical strength. So to take times whittling away wood pieces might be just what you need to keep your life under control.
As mentioned above, you should be able to get into whittling without having to invest too much money in preparation. In most of the care, you are going to need:
You could never be too careful around knives and the same idea also applied to whittling tools as a whole. While you are processing pieces of woods, it’s widely advised that you wear suitable protective accessories to protect yourself. At the very least, you should put on a pair of gloves in order to prevent your hands from coming into contact with wood splinters, sharp edges of the knives,…At all time, keep in mind that safety is number one priority and whittling for beginners is not an exception.
Different people have different opinions about the best whittling knife so there is no such thing as the perfect product. That being said, in whittling for beginners, it’s a good idea to get knives from reputable names in the industry nowadays like Morakniv, Flexcut, … Despite the fact that models from reputable manufacturers would not always deliver satisfaction, they are still reliable choices compared to examples from lesser-known brands. All things considered, if you need whittling knives, consider buying merchandises from famous labels first.
While talking about whittling for beginners, numerous expert and experienced whittlers tend to recommend softwoods. Unlike hardwoods, softwoods permit you to manipulate them as you see fit with relative ease. After you are certain that you have got the knack of things, move on to hardwoods in future whittling projects. Compared to softwoods, hardwoods require more skills but in exchange, they last longer and maintain texture fairly well over time. Once again, it’ all about the techniques the confidence you have in your own abilities.
With hundreds of softwoods, how could I tell which one suits my taste?. In that case that is your concern, here are a couple of suggestions for you.
Want in-depth whittling guidance? Searching for beginner level projects? Wish to learn more about the properties of different woods? If you have questions like that in mind then you should definitely think about getting a couple of reference books. “Old Time Whittling: Easy Techniques for Carving Classic Projects”, “Complete Starter Guide to Whittling: 24 Easy Projects You Can Make in a Weekend” and “20-Minute Whittling Projects: Fun Things to Carve from Wood” are excellent choices.
With issues about whittling items and ideal materials taken care of, let’s see some instruction on how to whittle. Though it’s highly likely that you would have difficulty positioning your hands to fit specific whittling postures, it should work out in the end. After all, it’s whittling for beginners so take your times, no need to rush.
“How to whittle wood without sustaining injuries” is what first-time whittlers want to know and it’s quite simple. Use your left hand to hold the piece of wood while letting your right hand take hold of the knife. Place the thumb of your left hand on the back of the blade in order to deliver the cutting force. It’s strongly recommended that you avoid cutting through the wood using solely your right hand as it lacks accuracy. In any case, keep all your remaining fingers out of the path of the blade.
Once you feel that the knife is stuck tight, stop right away and slowly backtrack. In the case you decide to brute your way through, you might slip your grip and accidentally hurt your fingers. You have to remember that speed is not a factor in whittling for beginners so why bother going fast here? Until you feel comfortable cutting through different layers of woods, proceed at a steady pace. Be patient and the result should come your way eventually.
One minor mistake is enough to destroy hours worth of effort and that is why you have to stay focus. Your scooping motion should only remove a bit of wood at a time, nothing more. Practice a lot in order to deduce the correct angle for different types of woods. For most of the time, refrain from going too deep since you could end up tearing the wood piece all the way to the back.
Last Updated on January 1, 2022
Dennis Taylor - Owner of Outdoor Fact - is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.