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

I like to adapt existing tools for my work, make them, adapt them or whatever to suit my task. I found the different  curved hook knives less effective for carving more dense grained hardwoods and much less effective when the wood, hard or softwood, is dried and seasoned. P1020206With tons of both a ready and steady resource of dry hardwoods through offcuts in the shop I can make a spoon or spatula much more effectively using a gouge and spokes shave followed by a scraper. IMG_1063There is of course something special about carving spoons from riven stock using limbs and stems and letting the chips fall right there on the woodland floor and that’s what we enjoyed about being a cub and scout when I was young. Over recent decades a woodland craft revival has established a place here in the UK and other parts of the world called green woodworking or bushcraft. I think it’s answering one of the basic needs we humans have to work with our hands in a diversely different culture of its own and eschewing the otherwise  excesses where we live without making much of anything at all beyond a two-dimensional screen and a keyboard. I think that it’s much more than just green woodworking really. DSC_0579For some it ties in with a way of living they find truly valid as an alternative reality. It’s far from mainstream but they want to and indeed develop lifestyle with woodland crafts and management, woodland living and woodland dependency with some committed to living as small and unobtrusive a low-carbon footprint as possible. Carving every stick and stem into something useful from any split limbs provides raw materials in the rawest state of all. There is a sort of primitiveness about the work that places it in a realm all of its own and by that I don’t at all mean it’s a lesser work but perhaps a greater work or perhaps merely a different work. Yes, I think different. DSC_0022Woodland craftwork like spoon and bowl making and much more beyond that means adapting a mindset and especially so if you are say a bench woodworker like myself. The benchtop and vise adds a convenience in any work and brings work to a comfort level that’s practical and perhaps less stressful longterm to the body. Whittling out a spoon in the woods means working on a portable shaving horse or simply holding the spoon with the less dominant hand and carving it with the other. Two distinctly different ways to make two distinct products.


P1020268I bought a couple of knives that I thought were useful even though made for working the feet and hooves of animals. The wooden handled hook knife is a knife that might make greenwood spoon carving doable on a slightly less expensive budget in that it costs around £6.P1020198 It means doing a little fettling yourself, sharpening and honing, but usually that’s necessary anyway and ongoing throughout the life of the knife on an hour by hour basis. I sharpened this one first and then reshaped the curve with a couple of hammers and a dished wooden block. I doubt that the steel would bend too much without reheating and hardening again, but for the shape I wanted it came just right with half a dozen nylon hammer blows that could have well been steel hammer blows just fine.

P1020264The other knife is hooked to a curve keeping the long the flat face flat in like style to a  fruit-carving knife. It’s all stainless and folds neatly into the handle and is very nicely made. I like this knife shape for some of my work and especially reaching into internal tight corners like dovetails and such. Joseph uses a hooked paring knife made by Victornox for violin work and also all his knifewall work and John winter went down that path too. The Victornox knife is inexpensive and takes and keeps a good edge too.

You will  hear people say that stainless steel doesn’t take and keep a good edge. I have not found that to be the case at all, though I do trust what people say. I have different tools made from stainless including gouges that are flawless when it comes to edge retention and sharpness. These knives will get you going if budget is important. Both seem to me to be lifetime tools.

More on shaping and sharpening tomorrow or sometime soon.


  1. mmelendrez1955 on 15 January 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I made a spoon carving knife out of a saws-all blade. I bent a hook on it put a handle on and sharpened it. It work great. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Dave on 15 January 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Would you also entertain the idea of a short video on using these tools safely?
    Thank you again for all you do for us,

  3. kevin on 17 January 2015 at 2:09 am

    Hi Paul,

    Can’t thank you enough for what you do. My question is, are there any woods we should avoid using for eating/cooking utensils. I have A LOT of eucalyptus that I cut down that is a beautiful color. Can that be used? Thanks again,


    • Paul Sellers on 17 January 2015 at 3:07 am

      There are some woods that are highly toxic and unsuitable and you will need to go to one of the wood database sites for a list. It’s not just toxicity you need to consider but other things too like porosity; absorbing foods into fibres and cells in open pores, woods can also transfer flavours to foods too. All the fruitwoods are good, all of the acers, nut woods in general, but for instance walnut shavings in a horse stall or box can and will kill a horse. Eucalyptus is not toxic in the sense of the wood itself being toxic but off course dust from machines have their own harmful effects you must protect yourself against. I think it will make nice utensils though I haven’t used it my self.

  4. augcampos on 20 January 2015 at 10:22 am

    Master Paul did you know that Portugal has the biggest Pen(Pocket)Knife in the world, is 3.90 meters and 122 Kg.
    Please see it at 5:55 in this video

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