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How to whittle - Guest Post - Best Wood Carving Tools

How To Whittle – Guest Post from Best Wood Carving Tools

Whittling, to carve an object from wood with a combination of various small cuts, is a specific style of wood carving with a low barrier-to-entry to begin. Much like any other hobby, your potential is directly based on the time devoted toward learning and practicing. All you’ll need to begin is wood, which the world is plentiful of, and a whittling knife. Although, there is helpful information to know before carving your first whittling project.

What kind of knife is required for whittling?

For beginners interested in the wooden craft, a whittling knife is needed to begin. This will serve as your primary tool for most carving cuts. Another knife most wood carvers use is a detail knife, which has a short fine blade used to achieve complicated cuts in difficult angles.

It can be a little difficult knowing what whittling knives are ideal to use for wood carving, so check out this list of the best whittling knives all made with long lasting quality material.

Flexcut Carvin' Jack - Right Handed

Flexcut Carvin’ Jack – Right Handed

Basic cuts for whittling

Pairing Cut – Hold the whittling knife in hand with the bevel facing towards you while supporting the wood with the thumb. Pull the knife toward your thumb in controlled slow movement as if you’re peeling the skin off an apple. Don’t force the wood to carve, the knife is sharp so let it do the work. This is doing detail work to help form the shape of whatever it is the carver is trying to make.

Push Cut – This cut is utilized for removing larger portions of wood material when starting a project. Grab the handle of the knife, bevel facing away, and push the blade alongside the wood. The more dramatic the angle, the more wood will be removed.

Thumb Push Cut – This cut is necessary when complete control of the blade is crucial. With the same hand holding the wood, rest the thumb on the spine of the blade while using the other hand to hold the blade of the knife.

Warning: You do NOT want to carve anything with a dull blade, a dull blade is more dangerous than one that is properly sharpened. Pressure exerted while carving with a dull knife can cause the knife to slip very easily and will slice your hand open.

Razor Edge Combi Blade Carving Kit

Razor Edge Combi Blade Carving Kit


What kind of wood should I start with?

The best wood to carve with is basswood. Its fine grain makes it easy to carve with and a whittling knife will last much longer with this wood than a hardwood. It’s best to begin using basswood and use a finish to achieve a darker color to a completed project.

Simple Beginner Projects

Whittling can even be something as simple as carving shapes out of wood, but that gets old fast so here are a couple beginner project ideas:

Wooden spoon



Chess Pieces

Wood spirits


Each of the examples can be achieved with enough practice using the basic whittling cuts and other techniques found along the way. Experience varies on the amount of time devoted toward learning how to whittle, all you need to do is get started!


Big thank you to Best Wood Carving Tools for writing this! More whittling and carving tools coming soon!

Mora Wood Carving Knife

Mora Wood Carving Knife



Heinnie Haynes is a Subsidiary of Lorax Ltd. Vat Reg No 666 6532 05, Company Reg No 5396655