Straight Knife

AKA Sloyd Knife

The straight knife is the tool that we will be using the most. It is used to remove small to medium amounts of material all the way from rough carving to finished project.

This is also the tool that I recommend finding first. That may be buying a knife or just sharpening something that you already have.

The critical characteristics of a sloyd knife for a beginner are comfort and ease of sharpening.


Carving may feel very strange at first. As you learn new grips and techniques you will absolutely find yourself doing things that, to a novice, appear to be dangerous. Do not confuse this for discomfort with your knife.

Your first, or first few, knives as a beginner should be very comfortable for you. This includes experimenting with, resharpening, reshaping, breaking the tip, and messing up in so many other ways I can’t possibly list them all.

Remember, metal is a rigid but forgiving material. If you blunt a knife you can always resharpen it. Only the most extreme damage is irrecoverable, and even then you may find yourself modifying the remains to fit some new purpose.

Be as kind to yourself as you hope to be to your tools, and enjoy learning. Sometimes you win. Other times you learn.

Ease of Sharpening

There’s an ever growing trend of using super steels and other insane materials to create tools for carving. This is great and all, but a $500 sloyd knife is pretty far outside the bounds for most “common people”. You want steel that is hard enough to hold an edge to your liking and resilient enough to not snap.