Do you have to have a special Sloyd Knife for woodcarving?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

MyCarvingKnife1.1The short answer to this question really is a firm No. No, you don't. And this could already be the end of this “discussion” but that. Probably, would be unfair. Many an other knife, reworked or not, can fulfill the carver's needs at a fraction of the cost.

All too often, whether by courses taught on green woodworking or in other places, it is made to appear that a special sloyd knife is a must, is required, in the way that the crooked knife or spoon knife is for carving spoons. The latter is – unless you wish to use a spoon gauge – necessary for to carve the bowls of a spoon, for former, the so-called sloyd knife, is not.

I have been carving from greenwood (in the term greenwood which means anything from wet wood to eighteen months seasoned) – whittling it was referred to then – since early childhood from making clothes pegs to other items, though spoon carving has only come into it for me in the last couple of years, and I have never used any other straight knife than what came along.

Those knives were Opinel #6 pocketknives, for instance, as well as others, and fixed bladed knives that have been reworked from old, often damaged, kitchen knives, and it all worked and still works very well indeed, and a great deal cheaper.

Fair enough, someone might say that a sloyd knife, such as the Frost Mora is not all that expensive but that is not really so much the issue here, even though every little saving that can be made, obviously, helps.

In actual fact, for green woodworking knives, with the exception of spoon knives (or a couple), if making spoons is what you want to do, a carving and woodworking kit can be put together quite cheaply. Flea markets, and what are are called car boot sales in Britain, and yard sales, can bring forth many tools for little money.

Aside from my Opinel pocketknife, the pruning saw, spoon knife and hatchet, all other knives are repurposed for the job of woodcarving, including an old chef's turning knife and simple little Kitchen Devil vegetable knives.

The photo above shows my main “sloyd” knife, which came for a few coins from a flea market and it came this way bar needing a little cleaning up of the blade and really giving the blade a proper sharpening, and making the sheath for it. I have no idea who made it and where it was made though it appears to be carbon steel and has only a “Warranted” stamp on the blade. Whether it was rehandled by the previous owner or whether this was its original handle, with the nut at the “pommel” I also do not know. However, aside from the Opinel #6 this is my main knife from green woodworking. So, there you have it; no need for a fancy and often expensive knife.

© 2017

Full Disclosure Statement: I have used Opinel pocketknives since childhood and am not receiving any payment whatsoever from La Coutellerie Opinel for recommending their knives. Having said that the Opinel knives I use today were payment in kind for advertising done for them on a different magazine some years back.