If you are just getting into whittling, you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of different options and suggestions online. Lots of the so-called “reviews” of whittling tools and techniques seem to come from people with little to no experience using the tool or method in question, and tend to focus solely on others’ perception of the subject instead.
This hobby requires one very important thing: a quality knife with which to shape the wood. Even if you are an extremely skilled craftsman, a poor quality knife that doesn’t keep a sharp edge will prevent you from producing the desired result.
I, myself, was curious as to what knives would be ideal for the absolute beginner, so I decided to purchase more than a dozen different whittling knives from multiple companies to compare. Each knife cost less than $30 and was highly rated and tested, but most of them failed to deliver in one way or another.
After testing, I filtered my choices down to two excellent brands: Flexcut and Opinel. Flexcut is the perfect choice for a high-quality and affordable knife, while Opinel offers a quality full-bladed folding knife perfect for whittling.
These knives come with quite a few very nice options and even come in several different sizes and shapes, making it easy to find the perfect knife for your preferences.
Flexcut Whittling Knives
If you are in any doubt about what your first whittling knife should be, look no further than Flexcut. This is no exaggeration; they are, without a doubt, my favorite set of knives. I have five of them, as well as two chisels, and I consistently grab them first when I want to carve something new.
FlexCut is one of the best – if not the best – whittling knife brands under $30. Their knives are made in the USA with high quality carbon steel blades (Rockwell Hardness of 59 – 61) and have a comfortable grip to fit most hands.
Right out of the packaging, these blades are sharp! I’m talking shave-the-hair-off-your-arms sharp, and they cut through wood like a charm. Plus, you can pick up knife kits for a better deal per knife to save a bit of money, and these kits sometimes come with extras like stropping compound and coupons!
Best Places to Buy FlexCut Whittling Knives
If I were you, I would purchase one of Flexcuts whittling kits to save some money while still receiving multiple styles of knives. I have the Beginners Palm Knife Set and the 3 Piece Chip Carving Set myself and think they are outstanding little kits. Both come with various shaped knives to either remove more wood or add fine detail to your sculpture.
The Palm Knife set has everything I need to whittle and carve most any figurine I can think of and are my go-to knife set. I also purchased the Chip Carving Set to serve as motivation to learn how to do chip carving. The convenience of having everything I would need to practice this new technique with a single purchase was excellent!
All Flexcut knives can easily be found on Amazon, and usually have great prices. Click here to check out Amazons selection of FlexCut tools.
If you want to check out who may have the best prices today, a couple of my favorite places to compare prices with are Rockler.com and KnifeCountryUSA.com. Rockler is a dedicated wood working company that has a plethora of various wood working tools, while Knife Country USA is a family owned and operated knife specialty shop.
Both stores will occasionally put their FlexCut tools on sale and have outstanding prices that sometimes beat Amazon!
If you want a smaller and cheaper set, the 2 Piece Whittler’s Knife Set is a great choice to get started with. Check it out here on Amazon.
Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Knives
If you want a perfect full-bladed whittling knife that you can put in your pocket, look no further than Opinel’s Carbon Steel Folding Knives! While I am not usually impressed by folding knives under $20, Opinel’s folding knives are keepers and have a place on my belt next to my Leatherman Charge.
Starting off, the Carbon Steel Series knives use a very nice and thin XC90 Carbon Steel Blade (Rockwell Hardness between 57 – 59) that slices well right out of the box. No need to touch these knives up before using them!
Granted, mine did have a very minor chip in the blade, but was quickly removed with a 800 grit sharpening stone and stropped smooth. Opinel does have a manufacture’s guarantee for defects out of the box but the chip was so minor that I didn’t bother sending it back.
The aspect I loved the most about these knives – besides the razor sharp blade – was the simple and quality construction of the knife. My No. 7 knife has no play in the blade and the simple twist lock keeps the blade, in place with absolutely no movement. Plus, the round beech wood handle is comfortable to hold, even in my extra large hands.
The only thing you’ll need to do from the start is to make sure your blades are kept clean and very lightly oiled after using them. The carbon steel used in these knives sacrifices some corrosion resistance in exchange for hardness, so just clean off your knife when you are done whittling to keep it looking nice for a long time
Best Places to Buy Opinel Knives
I found the best prices for Opinel knives on Ebay of all places. If you are like me and don’t have Amazon Prime, this is the best place to pick one up. Click here to check out prices on Ebay.
Otherwise, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can probably find one just a bit cheaper on Amazon by clicking here.
I picked up the No. 7 knife due to its shorter length, as I find longer blades harder to manipulate while working on the fine details of a project. Also, if you get any smaller than a No 6 knife, they don’t come with the nice blade locking feature and that was a must for me.
More Knife Reviews
If you want to see more knife reviews, click the link below and find what whittling knife is best for you!