Have you ever tried carving a spoon with JUST a whittling knife?
If you have then you know it practically takes a lifetime to accomplish. Granted, it CAN be done, but if you want the bowl of a spoon to have a smooth finish then I suggest getting the best spoon carving knife (a.k.a. “hook knife”) to do it.
Luckily, for a decent hook knife, it is quite affordable to purchase and even easier to maintain, but I would not advise buying just any hook knife. You have to know which one is the best spoon carving knife before you can make a decision like that.
This is about as straightforward as you can get with a spoon carving knife. Although the knife as a whole is pretty generic looking, it gets the job done well for under twenty bucks.
I’ll get to the blade last, but FIRST the handle is made of hardwood oak that is processed with organic linseed oil. Something I noticed about the handle is that both ends have rounded tapered edges which is a pretty generic way of shaping handheld tools. Reason being is because it makes carving for long periods of time less strenuous on the hands and real easy to get a good grip.
NOW let’s talk about the good stuff.
This is a full tang high carbon steel blade, which is much more durable than partial tang, that is properly hardened to an ideal firmness to maintain it’s long-term usage and since it is a single bevel blade it does require frequent sharpening. Maintaining your tools is a tedious task but absolutely necessary, and it’s best to make a habit of sharpening your knives anyway.
If cost and life expectancy is your concern then I’d suggest going with the Beavercraft option. It isn’t real fancy, but will get the job done if you take care of it.
2. Mora 164
I have covered Morakniv knives before in my reviews, which I always recommend, and honestly folks…it’s near impossible not to.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure I can confidently name anyone I know who doesn’t own at least one Mora knife.
Mora knives are an automatic staple among woodcarving tools. They arrive sharp, work well, last long, and they’re not from China (thank you Sweden).
This brand actually has not just 2 hook knives but 3 different kinds (162, 163, and the 164), with little differentiating details between them I might add so it all boils down to preference.
Anyway, sorry about the rant, the 164 seems to be a popular favorite and is often times used in woodcarving workshops. It has an internal radius of 0.5 inches which makes it great for carving any size wooden spoon.
It is a single edge steel blade, which some of you might shrug at and keep reading or you might rule this option out completely. A single edge blade can be tough or a dream to work with because it limits left handed people to only push cuts or strictly pull cuts for right handed people.
A quick way around this is to just sharpen the flat side of the blade, however, if you are unfamiliar with sharpening but want a double edge blade on your hook knife then I suggest checking out the Mora 162 below.
On the other hand if you are one to use the push cut technique more often than not, you’ll want to stick with the 164. A single edge blade allows for the blunt side of it to be used as a stabilizer, but this carving style would have to be performed in your left hand.
Often positively acclaimed for being consistently resilient, pull cuts are the name of the game when it comes to carving with hook knives so the Mora 164 is best for right handed people, unless you can perform push cuts with your left hand too.
3. Mora 162
Even though this is number 3 on our list of best spoon carving knives it definitely deserves the number 2 spot. Unlike the 164, the Mora 162 offers a high carbon steel blade with a double edge.
Now while double edge makes it incredibly versatile to right and left handed carvers, it restricts you from using your thumb as a stabilizer for push cuts. That’s not to say the finished product won’t look great because it all boils down to how you use your tools.
This double edge tool is the best spoon carving knife for smooth concave cuts. A high carbon steel blade with an internal radius of 0.6 inches is hard to argue against.
Unfortunately there seems to be a number of people receiving their knife dull, I suggest taking a sharpening stone to the blade. Once you feel it’s at a good angle, maintain that edge using a strop daily!
Honestly, receiving a tool with a dull blade is not enough for me to rule it off, it’s an easy fix (unless you don’t have a sharpening stone and strop) so it isn’t that big of a deal. Considering you’re still getting it with carbon steel, which is a must have material for any blade doing carving, that has a double edge, it is a solid choice.
Best Wood For Spoon Carving
Always, always go with basswood if you’re a beginner carver, hands down. The best wood for carving is basswood because the grain is hardly an issue with it. You always here to carve with the grain right, otherwise your piece will chip off into bits, and you typically see that a lot with hardwood.
Well that is where basswood excels because you don’t actually have to carve with the grain at all and that’s something that will come in handy when carving a spoon.
Walnut, mahogany, and butternut are also the best wood for carving spoons.
You know how whittling knives have length dimensions? Well, the internal radius to the best spoon carving knife is similarly as important to know like the length to a whittling knife.
I’m talking about the blade here, just to make that clear!
Why is the internal radius important and what does it mean?
Blade dimensions are important, that’s a fact. A detail knife is obviously going to be shorter and finer than a basic whittling knife, because it is used to fit into shallow or deep crevices to bring detail (duh) to your wooden piece.
Now for the internal radius it is a very similar concept. The higher the measurement is the more open the hook knife is. a hook kn
Why do you think a hook knife needs a higher internal radius or a lower one? What do you think it could be helpful with?
Take a look at these two hook knives below.
They are similar looking in design, but different internal radius.
The best spoon carving knife is going to have a lower radius which is best for carving a smaller surface area (the knife on top).
A hook knife with higher radius measurement is best used for carving a bowl. It is wider and covers more surface area (the knife on bottom).
Single or Double Edge
I could argue either or to be honest, but I’ll lay out the good and bad for both and let you decide.
Single – Great thing with a single edge blade is you can rest your thumb on the blunt part of the blade. The reason this method is so effective is because it gives you more control over your cut. You’re always going to have better control with push cuts than you can with pull cuts.
That is NOT to say that push cuts are the best type of cuts to carve a concave shape into your spoon.
Double – With a double edge blade you can do pull cuts regardless if you’re right or left handed, and honestly I’ve got to let you guys in on a little secret: The best way to carve the concave shape is by using pull cuts. Carving across the fibers of the wood is a lot easier to do with pull cuts.
Keeping It Sharp
Sharpening a hook knife seems pretty difficult due to the shape of the blade, but really it’s not so hard.
Don’t have anything to sharpen with? Check out these cheap best sharpening stones.
Because it is pretty difficult to explain what you should be looking at through written word, here is a video with David Canterbury giving a great explanation on what you need and how to properly sharpen a hook knife.
All knives are solid options, but if you get something like the Mora 162 with the double edge blade then you have to know how to use it, or at least learn. Whereas the other two are pretty straightforward on how to use.
The only two things I don’t like when comparing those two (Mora 164 and Beavercraft) is that the Mora 164 uses a stainless steel blade and the neither are forgiving for left handed carvers.
So with all that being said, I feel the best spoon carving knife is going to be the Beavercraft hook knife. I can’t justify buying stainless steel, especially when the rest of my Mora knives have high carbon steel.