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As many of you know - choosing a carving knife is really a personal choice. What works for one person may not work for another. The handle style, the blade style - there are many choices and it can be very confusing.
So, what is the best wood carving knife? I will try to sort it all out for you here, by telling you what blade styles work best for what cuts in your carving. It's up to you to experiment and see what works best for you.
No matter what the manufacturer names the knife, most blades come down to the basic shapes below. You may find them longer or shorter, thinner or wider. Some manufacturers measure the whole blade from where it comes out of the handle to the tip. Others (ours included), measure just the cutting edge of the blade. So be sure to take note of that when buying a knife if you want a specific length.
A - Straight Top with a Curved Cutting Edge
Used for slicing and concave cuts. The curve helps so your blade won't bite into the wood when making a tight curve. Try a tight concave cut with a straight bottom knife (like C) and notice how it will kind of jump or skitter across the wood.
B - Straight Top with a Curved Cutting Edge and a Clipped Off Point
The same style as (A) except for the tip is clipped off. Think of the very end as another knife, you can use it for getting small detail cuts. Leaves a gentle concave cut.
C - Curved Top with a Straight Cutting Edge
This style is your basic carving knife. Useful for a variety of carving. A longer blade in this style will remove a lot of wood fast. A shorter blade in this style will work well for your details. The shorter blade can also be used for chip carving.
D - Round Ended Blade
Cutting edge is on the end and the bottom. This style of blade is useful for making deep cuts and the tip won't bite into the cut. Used for scoring feathers.
E - Tapered Blade with a Straight Cutting Edge
Good for corners and curves, fine detail work or general carving.
F - Straight Cutting Edge with a Clipped Tip
Usually a longer blade to remove wood fast. The clipped tip allows you to do detail work. Think of the very end as another knife. A narrow blade is used to get in tight curves where a wide blade can't; like a duck's head/neck connection.
G - Bent Blade
These come in a variety of styles. Sometimes only one edge is sharp and others have both edges sharp. Good for carving spoons, bowls, violins, cups, etc. Anywhere you have to hollow out a surface.
H - Curved Blade
Typically called a spoon knife, for the obvious reason. It works well for carving out spoons. Also good for bowls. For more of an aggressive, deeper cut. Sometimes only one edge is sharp and others have both edges sharp.