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My minimalist tool list – the woodworker’s knife I don’t use

For more information on the woodworker's knife, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

Here is a thought on a knife that comes with students to my workshop. Unfortunately I end up working on them to get them to function and the result is always unsatisfactory. Now this will go against thr grain for those of you who bought them and swear by them, but I know I have seen enough of them to know what i am talking about.

These knives are called diamond-point or spear-point knives:

The theory behind this is good theory, but in practice, on the wood, especially pines where the late growth ring aspect can be harder than many hardwoods, these knives fail the test every time.

The theory is that because the knife has a single-sided bevel, and the knife has two bevels on the one side only, forming a spear point, you can simply flip the knife over for left or right hand use and still have a flat face up against the straight edge of the square.  This supposedly saves making compensated angled cuts to allow for the normal bevels found on regular knives, which in fact was never a big deal in the first place. The problem is that the very point, where the two bevels come to the point is a non-viable point. As soon as you achieve a finely shaped and sharpened point, applying pressure in the cut on the actual wood fractures the point and you are back to the stones again. Inevitably you end up reshaping the edge and form the only truly viable edge which is a continuous round. Not what we usually want at all:

With the Stanley long point, there is sufficient steel backing up the point for most work, however, the point sometimes breaks here too, but the broken point now advantages us in the work and if it does break simply leave it alone. The cutting edge is uncompromised and works just fine.

There is no need for a special knife beyond the one I recommend in this and the previous blog. Practice soon established skill and knives that substitute for skill often have unnecessary ties that hinder that skill development. Not what we want at all. It’s best to get straight on with the job of establishing skill in both sharpening and use.


  1. Gareth Martin (@Gareth00) on 24 December 2013 at 10:14 am

    It’s Sod’s Law that I discover this blog post and the other singing the praises of the Stanley pocket knife in the week that my Crown 112 knife ( ) is delivered. The knife was bought in an effort to execute your effective “knife wall” which in turn may improve my sawing. Anyway, at a fiver on Amazon and in Christmas week the boat will be pushed out. I’ll compare and comment.

  2. Jeff Polaski on 27 November 2016 at 6:49 pm

    I simplified your method of disqualifying the spear point blade by simply allowing it to drop, point first, onto the concrete floor. Now it doesn’t work in either direction.

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