Michael recently wrote to me to ask what knife he should use in order to start woodcarving as a beginner. Here is what he said and my reply follows:
My name is Michael and I am from Transylvania.
I have recently decided to start wood carving as an after work activity. Browsing the web for information a couple of days ago I found your site and in it I found out that you began to carve using an Opinel knife.
So, please tell me what size of Opinel should I buy, being a beginner above 20 years old?
Thank you in advance for your answer.
Hi Michael, I do not recommend using an Opinel for carving, for that you should get something small and sharp with a fixed blade, such as a Mora 120 knife, or something made by Svante Djarve for example.
I noted the Opinel as the knife I first owned which was of any use to me, but I soon grew out of it when I wanted to work with wood properly. An Opinel is more of a utility pocket knife, it's also handy for camp cooking, mushrooming and so on.
It is potentially dangerous to use a folding knife for more serious work as the blade could fold on your fingers. Also, the pliability of the blade and its movement against the handle don't inspire confidence.
For confident cutting, a blade with a single bevelled edge is the best; though some swear by a convex profile to a blade, it is more difficult to get into as your carving is only as good as your knife is sharp, and sharpening a convex profile is trickier than a single bevel.
In fact, the most important aspect of wood carving is learning to look after your knife or other tool's edge, so take the time to learn about it before working on anything too difficult. Sharpening, honing and stropping the edge should become a part of your routine.
Please also visit this section for more information (but do bear in mind that my necessarily limited experience is not a complete knowledge of woodcarving):
Let me know how it goes!