Getting into whittling and woodcarving is much simpler than most people expect. All you really need to get started is a single tool that you probably already have, a pocket knife.
But the question still remains, can you carve wood with a pocket knife?
You can start carving wood with nothing more than a pocket knife. They are easy to carry with you and there are specialty whittling and wood carving knives that are made for the sole purpose of carving wood. These knives typically come with more than one blade so you can make a variety of cuts and have multiple sharp blades at your disposal.
There are a few other items that you may want to make your wood carving experience better, so lets cover those really quick.
Everything You Will Need to Carve Wood
While it is true that the only tool you will need to carve wood is nothing more than your favorite pocket knife, there are some extra tools that will make your overall wood carving experience more enjoyable!
All of these tools are affordable and you may already have something that will get the job done!
– Sharpening Stones and Leather Strops
In order to keep your knife razor sharp while carving wood, you will want a sharpening or honing tool available to maintain the cutting edge.
Carving wood can quickly wear down a sharp cutting edge over time and having a fine grit sharpening stone (1000 grit or higher) or a leather strop with polishing compound is the best way to maintain that cutting edge as you are carving. This way you can keep a nice and sharp edge that will safely take off wood with little force.
If you need an easy to follow tutorial on how to properly sharpen and hone your pocket knife for whittling, check out my sharpening tutorial linked below:
– Finger Protection
Because you will be manipulating a sharp knife near your fingers, it is ideal for beginners to have some sort of finger protection. This way you don’t accidentally cut your fingers if they get too close to the blades edge.
A great and portable option is using self adhering Ace wraps or tool wraps. Just make them to size by wrapping them around your fingers that you want to protect (typically the pointer finger and thumb), slip them off, and put them in your pocket.
I carry one for my thumb in my whittling sheath on my belt that holds my Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack and an extra fine Mini-Sharp diamond plate sharpening stone.
Pick a Dedicated Whittling Blade
One of the biggest tips I can give you for whittling with a pocket knife that has multiple blades in it is to dedicate one or more blades to the sole task of whittling and wood carving.
Having a few dedicated blades in you pocket knife that are reserved just to cut wood allows you to always have at least one sharp knife on hand to carve with.
If you are able to reserve more than one blade just for whittling, you will be able to switch blades to another sharp knife when the first one starts to dull out. This way, you don’t have to keep sharpening your knife while carving.
Picking The Right Wood
If you are out camping or hiking in the woods, you will have plenty of wood to choose from! The only thing you may want to keep in mind is how dense the wood is, otherwise you risk dulling your knife quickly.
If you are in the woods, softer wood like pine may be more ideal to carve. Otherwise, you can carve what is commonly called “green wood” which is wood freshly cut from the tree. Green wood will typically be easier to cut as it still has the natural moisture still inside of the wood , making it easier to cut into.
If you are bringing your own wood to carve, you can bring softer woods like basswood and butternut which are easy to cut into and hold detail.
Easy Whittling Projects
If you are whittling with your pocket knife, you usually won’t be sitting and working on the same project for hours at a time. So here are a couple simple and easy wood carving project ideas to proved inspiration. For detailed and step by step guides, check out my link below:
– Simple Fish
If you have a stick, you can easily carve a fish out of it. You will have a simple cylindrical shape so you can easily carve a simple fish by defining the fins, body and head.
– Fisherman in a Canoe
If you have some extra time on your hands and a few larger pieces of wood, you can make a canoe with a fisherman in it! Just carve the canoe out of a larger branch with a bench in it and carve a small guy to sit in the canoe and hold a fishing pole. You can just use a simple twig as the fishing pole for simplicity.
Best Pocket Knives for Whittling and Wood Carving
If you don’t already have a pocket knife that you use for whittling, I have made a list of some of the best wood carving pocket knives on the market that can fit just about any budget!
All of these knives listed below have been purchased and tested for quality and usefulness for anyone looking to carve wood. All of these knives will range between $15 and $95 but have proven themselves to be of exceptional quality for any wood carver.
If you want to see several different pocket knives compared against each other, check out my pocket knife review video comparing about $500 in different knives below.
– Great Eastern Cutlery #62 Pocket Carver (Farm and Field)
Without question, one of the best quality whittling pocket knives on the market is the Farm and Field Variant of the Great Eastern Cutlery #62 Pocket Carver.
The GEC #62 Pocket Carver uses 1095 Carbon Steel, has a Rockwell Hardness of 59 to 61, and comes with three blades. One of the things I like most about this knife is that two of the blades are identical, so when one starts to dull out, you can switch to the other similar blade and have the exact same carving experience.
This knife is a little more on the expensive side, but I believe it to be worth every penny. The easiest place I have found to buy one is on Ebay, you can pick up yours by clicking here: https://ebay.to/3lejdN9
– Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack
If you are looking for a quality made pocket knife with multiple blades and was designed with wood carvers in mind, look no further than the Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack! This is my personal favorite knife and goes with me everywhere.
The Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack comes with a 2″ blade and a 1-1/2″ High Carbon Spring Steel blade with a Rockwell Hardness of 59 to 61 and come to you honed razor sharp! They come in a comfortable aluminum handle with a wooden lament for decoration and is very well priced for what you are getting.
The only thing some people may not like about it is that the blades can be hard to pull out at the beginning and require some breaking in.
I personally like to shop around for my Flexcut tools and have found the best prices on both Amazon and Ebay. Pick up yours by clicking the links below:
Ebay – https://ebay.to/3ahrScx
Amazon – https://amzn.to/3MgYVQ7
– MasterCarver Pocket Whittler 2
If you are looking for a classy single bladed pocket knife with a blade lock, the Pocket whittler may be the knife for you!
The Master Carver Pocket Whittler 2 has a 1-3/4″ 440C Steel blade with a Rockwell hardness of 61, making it a solid choice for any whittler. From its classic design to its well finished handle, this is definitely a knife worth considering.
The best place to pick this knife up is on Amazon as they typically have the best availability and prices. Pick up yours by clicking here: https://amzn.to/3uBayuQ
– Victorinox Swiss Army Camper
Just about everyone has heard of the famous Swiss Army knives, and the reputation lives up to the hype. If you need an all around pocket knife for every day use and whittling, look no further than this knife!
The Victorinox Swiss Army Camper has two different length blades and a saw made from their own Martensitic Stainless Steel with a Rockwell Hardness of about 56. While this may be on the lower end of the hardness spectrum, this knife shines when it comes to versatility.
Because of the different sized blades and the amazing saw, you can easily rough out any carving and carve small details to quickly whittling a work of art.
Swiss army knives can be found just about everywhere where knives are sold, but for the best prices you can find them on Amazon or used on Ebay for an amazing price! Click the links below to pick one up for yourself:
Ebay – https://ebay.to/2CnapTO
Amazon – https://amzn.to/3KwEazc
– Schrade Old Timer 44OT Workmate
For those of you looking for a good whittling knife with multiple blades at an amazing price, the Old Timer 44OT may be just the knife you are looking for!
The Schrade Old Time 44OT Workmate comes with four different styles of knives with 7CR17 Steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 57 to 59. You can easily designate two or even three blades as your whittling knives and use the others as your every day use blades. These pros themselves make this an unbeatable deal for under $20!
The best place to pick up your 44Ot is on Amazon as they have the best prices and availability anywhere! If you want to pick up your own knife, click here: https://amzn.to/3E6cSND
– Opinel Carbon Steel No. 7
For those of you wanting a single bladed knife that locks into place and comes with a super sharp blade from the beginning, the Opinel Carbon Steel knives are the way to go!
The Opinel Carbon Steel pocket knives are a great single bladed knife that uses their XC90 Carbon Steel blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 57 to 59. Opinel uses a really nice thin blade that easily slices through wood and comes honed sharp for immediate use.
If you want the blade lock feature, you have to get a No. 6 blade or larger as the smaller versions don’t have a blade lock.
The best places to buy your Opinel Carbon Steel knife is either on Amazon or Ebay as they have the best prices, to pick up yours click the links below:
Ebay – https://ebay.to/2DAvbQu
Amazon – https://amzn.to/365gMK7
More Whittling and Wood Carving Tips and Tools
If you are new to whittling and wood carving, check out my one stop whittling guide for more resources.