Picture of How to design and make a wood carving knife
I will show you how to make a wood carving knife with a minimum of tools.

This knife is perfect for carving the shrink cup in my last instructable
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Tools needed

Picture of Tools needed
To make this instrucable you only need simple hand tools that most of you already have.
You need a hammer, a saw, a file, a vice, an ax and a knife.
I also use a froe and a metal ruler that is nice to have but you can do with out them.

If you don't have a froe use a big knife or a ax to split the wood.
And as a substituted for a metal ruler use the backside of a saw.

Step 2: The knifeblade

Picture of The knifeblade
Of course you need a good knifeblade, I like the ones from Frosts Mora. They are cheap and very sharp. The ones I use in this instructable are KB120 and KB106. They are laminated blades with a very hard center and soft iron on the sides. Making the edge durable without making the blade fragile.
The blades are slim, making them ideal for any kind of carving.

Step 3: The wood for the handle

Picture of The wood for the handle
I use green cherry wood for the handle. By using fresh/green wood I can hammer the blade directly into the handle. That way I don't need to drill holes for the blade, and there is no need for glue.

Other suitable wood for this ; Birch, Red Alder, Linden, Apple, Pear
Red Alder can even be used when dry, but the others need to be green.

Step 4: Prepering the knifeblade

Picture of Prepering the knifeblade
To be able to hammer the blade into the handle you first need to file the tang. The tang needs to be straight like a nail, not wedge shaped like it is from the maker. It you leave the tang wedge shaped the handle will split.

I use a hand file to do the job. But if you have a bench grinder you can use that. Just watch your fingers and that the blade don't get to hot.

Also cut the tang into length, it needs to be 5-6cm long. When you have cut the tang file the end so it is flat.
vhcl5 years ago
Very Nice!! One of the best Instructables I have read so far. Thanks :-)
ripperman21 year ago
I have also seen blades made from old straight razors. Usually german made steel is the best. I just don't have the time and buy blades from Warren Cutlery in the U.S.
dmdsanchez3 years ago
Where did you get the frosts knifes...
jhnath3 years ago
Excellent how-to. I have never seen anyone so skilled with a hand axe doing carving-impressive.

Ron-Ray5 years ago
Pic #3: "Twin Sisters" :-) ... I like that!

RE: "adjectives" ... THEY know what you mean. Some people just can't stand to just watch, read, listen, learn- and ENJOY. They want to be the main attraction...
They really know that you owned them by making this great series and they could never do what you have done here. They're called "Trolls", because they 'fish' (troll) around comment sections trying to cause mayhem with their wtf, omfg, lmao, and other acrid acronyms and inserting mean and vicious comments. They are the "boils on the backsides of the Internet"!
Kiernan Ron-Ray4 years ago
and you sir are a very very devious troll ^_^

Love the guide I hope to make one of these soon, I have been using a china folder for carving and now that im getting more into it it would be nice to have one of these.
slaitch4 years ago
I believe that my favorite part of this project is that apart from the blade being steel, it could have been done any time in the last quarter of a million years. It's very timeless.
Where did you buy the blades? I couldn't find them on their website?
morfmir (author)  atomicturkey274 years ago
I buy them from here

or here

do they ship to the U.S ?
morfmir (author)  atomicturkey274 years ago
I don't know, but why don't you just ask them.

lorenrad4 years ago
I notice a lot of bouncing of the workbench when you are chopping away at your knife handle. If you can stiffen your bench, your cutting strokes will be more effective and you won't have to worry about tools and other stuff on your bench jumping around and falling off. In regards to the danger of cutting towards your hand, eventually you might slip and do yourself some nasty damage. One thing you can do to make the job safer: thin the sides of the handle before making the undercut. Then you don't have to chop so hard to clear it. I notice that when you cut towards you, you still have some of the handle in the way as a guard, so it's not as dangerous as it seems.
sabr6864 years ago
I love how you just left the camera tilted. You were in the zone, man. I could see it just fine that way anyway. Nice skills.
morfmir (author)  sabr6864 years ago
Hi. I had the camera clamped in my vice :-) And didn't want to break it by tightening it to much. Now I have bought a tripod for future films. /Thomas
peater5 years ago
I've never seen such a shiny, beautiful hammer head!
morfmir (author)  peater5 years ago
Thanks. I made the hammerhead ny self. It was a project in my workshop teacher education.

peater morfmir4 years ago
Nice one! I've never seen a hand forged(?) hammer head before, but why not? People make beautiful yet utilitarian handmade knives, axes and the like. Why not hammers.
I congratulate you sir.
you really shouldn't shape the handle with your "small and sharp hatchet" while you swing it toward you, you could easily lose a finger or worse, just a warning.
goldenbacon5 years ago
 How can I do this without splitting the wood when you hammer the blade in?
morfmir (author)  goldenbacon5 years ago
The trick is to grind the tang like I show in step 5

The tang needs to be straight like nail and flat ind the end.

mista.v5 years ago
 If we haven't got a hatchet, just a large ax, carving it with a knife is still viable, no? Or is it possibly to do with a fullsized ax?
morfmir (author)  mista.v5 years ago
The hatchet just speeds up the process of shaping the handle. It is possible to carve it all with a knife. It just takes a lot longer time.
But if you are interested in making other greenwoodworking a hatchet is a necessary. And it don't need to be expensive.

gunrunner5 years ago
you might try making blades out of saw-zaw or reciprocating saw blades.
Are there any instructables out there for the saw-zaw knife.  i have heard people at my woodcarving shop talk about them.
i have done that, they are very nice and you can make one relatively quickly! :)
red-king5 years ago
 is there a reason why they come in a wedge shape instead of straight?
Caym red-king5 years ago
It has to do with the process of heat treating. If it was straight the metal would have a high chance of cracking thus rendering the blade useless
red-king Caym5 years ago
 oh. okay. that makes sense. thanks.
JavaNut135 years ago
I made this one at school, along with a chisel.
What kind of bark did you use and were did you get it.
morfmir (author)  Don,t try this at home5 years ago
It is birch bark. I bought it from a Danish webshop

If you have access to a suitable tree you can harvest the bark your self.

Birch doesn't grow in southern Colorado, USA. We have Elm, Cottonwood, Aspen, Scrub Oak and various softwoods (evergreens). Any possible substitutes among those?
@ thepelton: Birch grows in several of the north-western states here in the US. I think some even grow in northern Colorado. Check on some of the on-line wood supplies... It should be pretty easy. It definitely doesn't grow here in Alabama, but I can either buy it on-line or substitute something else for it. I believe this guy could make a knife handle from 'news paper', he's so good! :-)
Ron-Ray5 years ago
I can tell that you've used that hatchet a long time. You really know what you're doing! I've been to many sites, looking at many home-made knives and I have to say that you are truly one of the better knife makers! You are a "natural"! Start your own forging and you have a business!
pumaplayr175 years ago
hey so i was thinking about trying this one out, but i dont woodcarve. i was wondering if the same technique of attaching the blade to the handle would work on a bigger scale like a hunting knife? thanks
morfmir (author)  pumaplayr175 years ago
You can do it with all kinds of knifes, You just need to do step 5 it the tang isn't the right shape. /Thomas
fluent5 years ago
That is stinkin' awesome. How long have you been making knives?
morfmir (author)  fluent5 years ago
Thanks, I have been making knifes for some years. My favorites are simple handmade knifes like the ones in this instructable. /Thomas
fluent5 years ago
Indeed. Well done! I think you've inspired a bunch of us out here ;)
(removed by author or community request)
hey man there is a "be nice" comment policy here
That came off the wrong way. I wasnt suggesting to take it off or stop posting stuff like this here. I was just suggesting you could post a link on to get this out to a more target audience, Its a pretty new and its growing fast.
ok sorry i miss understood u
morfmir (author)  i make shooting things5 years ago
I'm not a kid, and I like to come here to learn and to share.
I totally agree
wow the handles look really nice
I read here, , that if you use antler you can soak it in vinegar for 6-12 weeks, then it will be soft enough to just push the tang right in.
Thav5 years ago
Great instructable. I'm especially curious to get home out my work's firewall and watch the axe shaping video.
SinAmos5 years ago
I wanted to like this, but I'm not sure. I have to consider some issues because of the nature of the blades. See, I have one of those interchangeable carving knifes, and I'm not sure what the benefits are. Good work though.
morfmir (author)  SinAmos5 years ago
There are a lot of different techniques involving carving. Some techniques you use very small knifes in different shapes. I guess that is tha one you have. And some uses different chisels. This knifes are the ones I use when carving things like spoons, buttering knifes, shrink cups and other wooden things. /Thomas
thepelton5 years ago
I know that has blades for home knifemakers. Not sure if they have them for carving tools, but it sounds logical, since they sell the finished tools.
dagenius5 years ago
Very nice. I love the techniques that you put on here.
I'd be done at step 7
Were did you get the blades at.
morfmir (author)  Don,t try this at home5 years ago
There are a lot of online knifemaking shops located here in Denmark. This time I bought the blades her
I don't know if they send international.
Good deals 4 USD for one i hope the ship to America. here they cost 20 bucks for a good one.
morfmir (author)  Don,t try this at home5 years ago
The price is in euro but it is still cheap. 4 euro=6$

Hey great instructable but i have 2 questions wont that split the handle? does it make it easier to drill a very small pilot hole so it goes in straight? Also i heard of a method where you heat up the tang and then it sort of burns the hole is this a good or bad idea? thanks
morfmir (author)  Pyro the maniac5 years ago
If you prepare the tang like I show it won't split. If the tang is wedge shaped it will surely split the handle. No need for at pilot hole it will only be in the way. Just go slow and hammer tghe tang in precise. I have tryed the burning method, and I must say that that is a lot of ekstra work for nothing. The method I show here are far better with less work, and without the risk of destroying the blade caused by overheating. /Thomas
In canada and the USA you can get them from lee valley
tevers945 years ago
thanks for this instructable, it's just what i was looking for.
Holden_vy_s5 years ago
Wow, you are really good with an axe, do you do this sort of thing for a living? Great job.
morfmir (author)  Holden_vy_s5 years ago
I'm a teacher of viking skills at the site Land of Legends in Lejre. You can see some film from the place here.

fool2cool5 years ago
Are you sure its safe to swing an axe towards your hand like in the video? I was always taught not to cut towards myself but rather away so if you slip you wont end up loosing a hand, but i spose if your experienced you can control where the axe goes.
morfmir (author)  fool2cool5 years ago
It is a questions about experience. I don't think about it, but if your not sure you can do it safe let it be. It is perfectly possible to make the handle with out that step, just cut it with a saw or with a knife. /Thomas
roblin905 years ago
Very nice indeed, a most excellent instructable.
Oooo. Those look really nice. Might have to make one of these. Do you think it would be possible to make quality knife blades yourself?
morfmir (author)  LuminousObject5 years ago
It is easy to make a blade... But it takes a lot of skills to make a good blade. I don't have the skills to make a blade good enough to compete with a quality blade like the Mora ones. /Thomas
of course! you can make knives pretty easily. try using old leafsprings, files, or saw blades. you'll have to cut them to shape, grind them and heat treat them. another alternative would be to forge them, but that requires a lot of work to set up. you can learn more at your local library, google, or