Last Updated on 27/08/2023
In this guide to the best spoon carving knife, you will learn which types of hook knives provide the most control, keep the sharpest edge, and are the easiest to work with. We share which type of spoon carving hook knife you should start with as a beginner and why blacksmith-forged hook knives are the best but so hard to get your hands on.
Spoon carving is like knitting for bushcrafters. It is one of those age-old activities you can sit around a campfire doing on an evening to pass the time. You don’t need a full toolbox to carve a spoon, just a single hook knife and the patience to learn. You can experiment with different styles of spoon carving knives or even try out a gauge or two so that you can find out which you prefer.
If you can afford it, have a passion for spoon carving, and don’t mind waiting months or years to get one, a hand-forged spoon carving knife is by far the best option. To find out why we only included one hand-forged spoon-carving knife in this guide, read all the way down past the reviews.
If you can, try not to go too cheap on your first tool, as it will not provide a good experience and will likely put you off spoon carving altogether. The Focuser 2.0 is a high-end entry model that can do it all, but the Mora 164 Hook Knife is what I recommend to most beginners. Let us know which you prefer in the comments.
6 Best Spoon Carving Knife
Focuser 2.0 Wooden Spoon Carving Middle Knife FC007
- BLADE LENGTH: 2.16 in / 55 mm
- HANDLE LENGTH: 6.88 / 175 mm
- BEST USE: Best All-Round Spoon Carving Hook Knife
The Focuser 2.0 Wooden Spoon Carving Middle Knife FC007 is the best hook knife for spoon carving you can buy today without having to join a waitlist. I like the FC007 middle knife because it can be used for such a wide variety of spoon shapes and sizes, but you can also get it in a smaller and larger versions. I have used many different spoon-carving knives, and this is the most pleasant to use.
With an extra long handle, you get total control in a number of holding positions so that you can always find the angle and leverage you need to remove a clean slice of material. Made from beech wood with a double-tapered design, you can always get a good grip whether you have tiny hands or massive hands.
I like that the point of the blade is rounded instead of pointy, as it makes sheathing it and packing it so much easier and less likely to ‘get you’ when routing around in your bag. I also like that the blade runs all the way up to the handle to make drawing the knife towards you, to make the shaft of the spoon, easier.
The blade itself is fairly short and thin, which gives it just enough flex to really put all your strength into each carve. My favorite feature is the rounded back edge of the blade which is ten times comfier on your thumb than a sharp edge that has not been filed down. The curve of the blade allows you to get a real rocking motion when excavating the bowl section so that you don’t end up digging in too deep and making a mess.
VERDICT: The Focuser 2.0 Wooden Spoon Carving Middle Knife FC007 is perfect for anyone looking to carve spoons, bowls, or a kuksa. It costs just over $50 and will change the way you carve spoons. From the shape and size of the long handle to the curvature of the blade, this is the best spoon carving knife for bushcraft.VIEW ON FOCUS CARVING
Flexcut Single Bevel Sloyd Hook Knife
- TOTAL LENGTH: 8 in / 204 mm
- BLADE WIDTH: 0.5 in / 10 mm
- BEST USE: Best Hook Knife for Table Spoon Carving
The Flexcut Single Bevel Sloyd Hook Knife is the best spoon carving knife for hardwood. If you want one hook knife that can carve a spoon from start to finish, then this is it. Made in America from high-carbon steel, you get the reliability and durability you need for a wood carving tool like this.
You can get four different-sized blades, including a double-edged one, for different-sized spoons. So if you want to make spoons you can eat with, you can get the smaller size, or if you want to make a variety of spoon sizes, then go for one in the middle range. I like the 8-inch length with the 0.5-inch width for everyday carving.
The hook itself is quite narrow at the tip, which is good for gauging, but the long edge is perfectly curved to shave off tiny amounts of material at a time. You get nice clean draws straight out of the box, and you don’t have to sharpen too often. A simple strop is ok most of the time.
VERDICT: Overall, the Flexcut Single Bevel Sloyd Hook Knife is a solid spoon carving tool for bushcraft that is readily available right now. You can use the thickest part of the blade to quickly remove excess material and then focus on the sharpest point of the curve when it comes to fine detail and shaping the deepest point of your spoon.
Morakniv Wood Carving Hook Knife 164
- BLADE LENGTH: 2.2 in / 52 mm
- BLADE WIDTH: 0.5 in / 10 mm
- BEST USE: Best Spoon Carving Knife for Bushcraft
The Morakniv Wood Carving Hook Knife 164 is probably the best-selling hook knife of all time because it is perfect for beginners. You get incredible value for money for the Swedish 12C27 stainless steel blade, which can be used on its own to create a spoon from start to finish. So, most people who fancy giving spoon carving a try will buy this as their first tool.
Is it any good? The Morakniv 164 hook knife will carve small to large-sized spoons and even bowls out of wood with no problem. The difference between this and a really high-end hook knife is that it needs sharpening a little more often and isn’t quite as comfortable when applying force using your thumb. This is because the back edge is often rounded off on handmade spoon carving knives to prevent this.
The handle is the right size for me, but if you have really big hands with wide knuckles, then it might seem a little small at just over 10cm. The blade has a nice angled bevel, which helps remove a good amount of material when digging into the wood. You can use this to make many different types of spoons, from small to large.
VERDICT: The Morakniv 164 Wood Carving Hook Knife is amazing value for money for beginners looking to try spoon carving for the first time. It costs a little over $30 and isn’t made of cheap steel or made with poor construction like some beginner tools sometimes are. It is high quality, at a low price, and can make just as nice of a spoon as the most expensive hook knives can.
Morakniv 162 Double-Edged Stainless Steel Hook Knife
- BLADE LENGTH: 2.2 in / 52 mm
- BLADE WIDTH: 0.5 in / 10 mm
- BEST USE: Best Double-Edged Hook Knife
The Morakniv 162 Hook Knife is one of the best double-edged spoon carving knives for bushcraft because of how versatile and efficient it is to use. The curve of the blade is perfectly shaped to allow you to get maximum pressure without using your thumb. So you can remove lots of material or shave tiny amounts with the same spot on the knife, so long as you keep it sharp enough.
There is a bevel on both sides of the blade which has its pros and cons (see further down), but once you get used to it is actually better for longer carving sessions. Not only does the double edge allow you to use push and pull strokes for efficiency, but it also means you don’t have to sharpen them as frequently. In honesty, though, it isn’t very often that you use a push-and-pull motion with a spoon-carving grip on the handle.
The handle is the same size as on the Morakniv 164, which will be just right for the majority of people, but if you have massive hands, then it may feel a bit small. If you are left-handed or ambidextrous, then you don’t have to worry about getting a custom blade made; the double side means you can use either hand in a variety of positions.
VERDICT: The Morakniv 162 Double Edge Hook Knife is an easy-to-use spoon carving tool designed for the intermediate wood crafter. It is high-quality Swedish 12C27 stainless steel but doesn’t cost a fortune which is ideal for the non-professional spoon carver. Some people actually prefer this over the 164 when they try both out, which always surprised me because it has less control and less carving power.
BeaverCraft Wood Carving Hook Knife SK1
- BLADE LENGTH: 2 in / 51 mm
- BLADE WIDTH: 1 in / 25 mm
- BEST USE: Best Budget Spoon Carving Knife
The BeaverCraft Wood Carving Hook Knife SK1 is one of the most affordable spoon carving knives out there, so it is perfect for beginners or for giving as a gift. Costing under $15 at the time of writing this, it is money well spent considering the amount of entertainment you get out of it, let alone all the spoons you’re going to be able to give away.
The handle is nice and long in proportion to the blade and somewhat flat which lets you get a really good grip and have lots of control. The handle is made from oak and finished with linseed oil which is pretty remarkable considering the price.
The blade is sharp enough and strong enough to carve many spoons, bowls, and cups, but as someone who has used many different hook knives, I have to say I am not too keen on the bevel or how loosely the tang is held to the handle. But we can’t really complain for $15.
VERDICT: The BeaverCraft Wood Carving Hook Knife SK1 is ideal for beginners on a budget or for giving as a gift to someone who likes to use their hands. The handle feels surprisingly comfortable and gives plenty of control, but the blade and build quality leave something to be desired. Give one a try if you never have before, and I promise you won’t be disappointed (unless you cut yourself).
S. Djärv Standard Spoon Knife
- BLADE LENGTH:1.57 in / 40 mm
- BEST USE: Best Spoon Carving Knife for Experts and Professionals
The S. Djärv Standard Spoon Knife is a traditional hook knife made by an expert blacksmith team in Sweden that understands what it takes to make a good spoon carving tool. The handle is double-tapered for good control and also ribbed for extra grip, which makes it a pleasure to handle and unlikely to cause hot spots on the palm of your hand. The blade is strong and sits at the perfect angle to carve deep spoons and reach the back shoulders of the bowl.
There is a very limited supply of these spoon-carving knives, but if they sell out when I publish this, the wait time is only 3-4 months. They are the most expensive in this guide, as you might expect, but the quality speaks for itself.
VERDICT: The Standard spoon carving knife from S. Djärv is one of the few hand-made hook knives for wood carving that doesn’t have a massive waitlist. The only issue with ordering one is that you have to pay in Swedish Krona and have it shipped internationally unless you can find a reseller locally. If you really want to treat yourself, then this might be the way to do it.
Hand Forged Spoon Carving Hook Knives
If you find that you really enjoy spoon carving or just want the best hook knife that money can buy, then a level above the commercially available hook knives are hand-forged blades.
We debated whether to include handmade spoon carving knives or not because the demand is far greater than the supply. The truth is that hand-forged spoon carving knives are far superior to factory-produced options both in terms of quality and performance. They are shaped to perfection with extreme attention to detail.
The problem with hand-forged spoon carving knives is that they cost a lot of money for a beginner, they are always sold out, and you have to join waiting lists that are sometimes over two years long. Also, blacksmiths’ careers don’t typically last all that long due to the strenuous nature of the job, so you only have a limited time period to get one.
But if you can afford it and make a lot of spoons, then this is the route to take. Here are some of my favorite spoon-carving knife makers for professionals and enthusiasts:
- Jason A. Lonon – Literally always sold out, but is considered to be the Rolls Royce of spoon carving knives.
- Pinewood Forge – They just have one hook knife but lots of other spoon carving supplies like books and blank spoon blocks.
- Svante Djarv – Authentic Swedish handmade strong spoon carving knives in a variety of sizes with nice narrow blades.
- Deepwoods Ventures – Has two spoon carving knives, one with an extended shaft which is perfect for carving ladles.
- Gui Siqueira – Makes incredibly detailed carving knives that are perfect for making and finishing wooden spoons.
- Matt White, Temple Mountain Woodcraft – Always sold out but makes a super nice concave hook knife.
- Solo Blacksmith – A New Zealand forge that makes an array of blades and tools with maybe the best concave hook knife out there.
A good resource for new knives that are available is thespooncrank.com which is totally dedicated to the art of spoon carving by hand.
Guide to The Best Spoon Carving Knives
Most spoon carving knives look the same, so choosing one can be a gamble if you don’t know what to look for. Here are all of the considerations we made when deciding which hook knives to recommend:
Type of Carving
Before you buy a hook knife for wood carving, you need to consider what you might want to make with it. Small spoons require small hook knives, and larger spoons are easier with larger blades (you would be surprised how small you have to make a wooden spoon for it to fit in your mouth). For this reason, I think the smaller knives are more versatile.
Spoon carving knives can also be used to make bowls, mugs, and kuksa; however, you will find that the deeper you go, the more you rely on a sharp tip to excavate the lower corners.
Because most of the people reading this guide are novice spoon carvers, I always recommend starting with a reasonably priced spoon carving knife before splashing out on a hand-forged one. The Morakniv 162 and 164 hook knives are perfect for beginners because they are high quality and not too expensive. Then, if you decide you like carving spoons, then you can upgrade to something better.
Forged Vs. Factory
As we have mentioned above, hand-forged spoon carving knives are the best, but they cost a lot of money and usually have long wait lists. Factory-made hook knives are still very good and assembled by hand for quality assurance; they just aren’t as durable as a forged knives. Beginners should aim to spend about $30-$60 on their first hook knife, and then you can upgrade when the time is right.
Single Edge Vs. Double Edge Blade
We go into the differences, pros, and cons of both single and double-edged blades further down, but here is the short version. Single-edged blades have the most control and strength, while double-edged blades are more efficient and can be used for longer between sharpening. Being able to push your thumb on the back of a single-edged blade can be really beneficial, whereas double-edged blades will slice your thumb if you make the mistake of musing down.
Look for a blade made of high-quality carbon steel for durability and edge retention. If the steel is too soft, it will not stay sharp, and if the steel is too brittle, it could snap. Swedish steel is extremely high quality and is coveted for its properties for knife making.
The blade should have a curved shape – this is what allows you to hollow out the spoon. The depth and curvature of the blade can impact what kind of work you can do with it, and you can often choose between the type of curve. You can get semi-concaved hook knives, fat-backed hook knives, or open concaves for a shallower depth.
Depending on the items you want to carve, you can choose any variation of long and short blades as well as wide and narrow blades. As a beginner, you will probably want to give everything a go, so you should look for a knife with a medium-sized hook on it. Shorter blades have the most control, while long and thin blades have the most flex.
Blade thickness is not something I pay too much attention to, but obviously, you don’t want a blade that is too fat or so thin it snaps. So long as the taper is long enough, you could use a chunky blade so long as it is curved on the underside to allow you to pivot and scoop out wood for the bowl of your spoon.
Single or Double Edge
Some hook knives have a single edge, while others have a double edge. A double-edged knife can cut in both directions, but some carvers find a single edge safer and easier to control because you can press against the back with your thumb. See further down the page for more details on this.
The handle should be comfortable to grip, but it doesn’t matter what style it is. It can be straight, tapered, octagonal, or have an ergonomic shape to fit your hand. The shape and fit of the handle are more important than the wood a hook knife handle is made from, but it should be tough and preferably hardwood. Oak, walnut, and ash wood are some of the best for hook knife handles.
Double Edge Hook Knife Vs. Single Edge Hook Knife
Most spoon carving hook knives have a single edge on them, but the specialist knife makers often make a double-edged blade too. Here are the pros and cons of both:
Double Sided Spoon Carving Knives
The first benefit of double-sided spoon carving knives is that you can sharpen both edges at the same time and get twice as much use from it which is good for short camping trips where you don’t want to pack a sharpener. Other benefits include being more efficient and being able to use it with both hands or share it with a lefty. The downsides are that it can be more dangerous to use because of the blade on both sides, and it isn’t quite as nimble at the tip for making gauges.
Single Sided Spoon Carving Knives
Single-sided hook knives have the major benefit of being able to apply extra pressure to the back of the blade using your thumb or finger. Not only does this increase the power you can apply, but it also improves control and accuracy with your cuts. The downside of pointy hook knives with one edge is that they are tricky to pack without snagging the hook on something or cutting yourself as you route around in there.
Sharpening a Hook Knife
Maintaining the sharpness of your spoon carving hook knife is crucial for ensuring clean cuts and overall carving efficiency. Sharpening a hook knife can be a bit more challenging than a straight-edge knife due to its curved shape, but with the right techniques and tools, it’s easily doable.
Here is a super helpful video I used to learn how to sharpen a hook knife:
The most common mistake I see people make is to sharpen the wrong side of the hook knife. You only sharpen the beveled edge, not the flat side. Some hook knives have a double bevel, in which case you do sharpen both sides, but most of the time, this is the case. Here are a few methods you can try:
Using a Rounded Slip Stone
A rounded or half-rounded slip stone is a shaped block of stone with rounded edges, ideal for sharpening the curved blade of a hook knife. Here are some tips for sharpening a hook knife with a slip stone:
- Selection of the right grit: Slipstones come in different grit sizes, from coarse to fine. Start with a coarser grit to remove larger amounts of material, then switch to a finer grit to polish the blade.
- Correct positioning: Hold the slip stone so the curved edge aligns with the curvature of the knife’s cutting edge (the beveled side).
- Sharpening process: Move the stone along the edge of the blade in a sweeping, circular motion. Make sure to maintain the same angle throughout the process. Flip the knife and repeat on the other side if it’s a double-edged hook knife.
Using a Round Ceramic Rod
Round ceramic rods are excellent tools for maintaining the sharpness of hook knives. They are easy to use and work your way around the entire curve without scratching against the inside edge. Here are some tips for sharpening a hook knife with a round ceramic rod:
- Proper grip: Hold the rod vertically in one hand and the knife in the other and sharpen towards yourself
- Sharpening motion: Draw the curved blade across the rod while maintaining the correct angle. Avoid focusing on one particular spot with a ceramic rod which can create a weak point.
Using a Leather Strop
A leather strop can help to refine the edge and remove any burrs after sharpening with a slip stone or ceramic rod. It is fast and easy to do and helps to preserve the sharpness of a blade for longer. I personally strop my spoon carving hook knife while using it to really get the cleanest cuts the first time. Here are some tips for sharpening a hook knife with a leather strop:
- Preparation: Apply a fine abrasive compound like green polishing paste to the leather surface.
- Stropping motion: Draw the blade across the strop, moving away from the cutting edge to avoid cutting into the leather. Repeat this motion several times in a smooth and consistent motion as you rotate the blade to cover the entire curve.
Regardless of the sharpening method you choose, remember that the key to effective sharpening is maintaining a consistent angle between the blade and the sharpening tool. Regular maintenance will keep your spoon carving hook knife in peak condition, ensuring smoother carving and a more enjoyable carving experience.
We hope you found this guide to the best spoon carving knife useful and informative. Let us know in the comments.