Carving Knives

Guidelines shown below are for Included Angles ().

Green wood carving can have a lower included angle () than dry wood carving.

CB's USB Projection Calculator is recommended for calculating setup for Tormek knife jigs. (The simpler Projection Calculator is also still available.)

General Guidelines
Type Grind Profile Notes
Chip Carving Knife 20°
Concave or Slightly Convex Could be as low as to 15° or 16° included angle, especially on softer woods. The Scandi grind can be "grabby" on the wood when slicing into it. The micro-bevel grind does not cut as cleanly.
General Carving Knife 20°
(see below) Could be up to 25° included angle.
Sloyd Knife 22 - 25°
(see below) Can go smaller or greater, depending on need. The convex grind is preferred by some as it gives a radius from which to adjust the angle of attack. Others say differently. You will need to identify which you prefer.

Some versions of this knife, more common with those which are hand-made, do not have the same angle on each side. This means the Bevel Angle () may not be 50% of the Included Angle ().

It is advisable to use a Sharpie marker to ensure you are grinding the same angle as was delivered. Once you have achieved the angle that matches the grind, record it onto a label attached to the knife. This will enable you to repeat the grind easier next time.

Notes & Comments
Grind Profiles (exaggerated)

Scandi grind - This bevel shape does provide a good guide to stabilize the cutting action, however it is so long that it may be difficult to pull out of the cut (i.e., for stop cuts).

If you use this grind, then decrease the value for .

Grind with micro-bevel - Many carvers do not like to use a carving knife with a micro bevel grind. Their argument is that it does not give them a large enough bevel for anchoring the cut; however if the bevel on the micro-bevel is long enough, it is quite usable. Also, this grind shape allows for great flexibility.

(Additional notes are also available on a different web page for Micro / Secondary Bevels.)

Concave grind - This is the grind achieved when using round grindstones (e.g., on a Tormek), though the concavity is quite small, especially on such a small grinding surface width.

Some carvers do not like to use concave grinds : they do find that a microbevel can be added to the concave grind (as above), and that works quite well.

(The picture is certainly exaggerated for the amount of concavity.)

Convex grind - This grind is not recommended for the general carving knife; however it is recommended by some for chip carving. It does allow for great flexibility; however it does not provide adequate anchoring for the cutting action.

  • The shape of the grind used is a call best made by the individual carver, based on their own experience.

  • A great general reference is the U.S. War Department's TM 9-867 Maintenance and Care of Hand Tools.

  • Online Calculators that can be used for sharpening knives.

  • Research Articles, Other Information, and some Final Thoughts. One of the key ones for this topic is below.

    • If you want to get truly sharp, Dr. Vadim Kraichuk with KnifeGrinders has a really good method and has adapted the Tormek system to these wheels. The KnifeGrinder method is one that is proven, and has great tools to assist with making it easy.

    • Click on either image for bigger size.
      Images courtesy Todd Simpson via Dr. Vadim Kraichuk of KnifeGrinders
    • It is a common, but quite bad, practice of drawing the newly sharpened knife edge through a piece of wood or some other media to "rip off" the remnants of the burr. When this is done, the ripped off metal builds up on the front of the slice, and you then drag the rest of the edge through this crud. This crud, together with breaking off of ledges of material along the edge, will roughen the edge and worsen sharpness.

      The scanning electron microscope (SEM) images to the right show the burr on a knife in the 1st image, that was then "ripped off" by cutting cross-grain into a piece of redwood in the 2nd image - loss of the sharp edge is obvious.

      Key take-away from these photos : don't skip the honing step.

Good videos showing techniques and the use of the Tormek Knife Jigs : SVM-45, SVM-100 (no longer sold), SVM-140, and SVM-00:

Edge Geometry by Hewn and Hone
Tormek Live Sharpening Class - Part 4 - Carving Knife & Carving Tools

Wolfgang and Sèbastian from Tormek go through the sharpening of carving knives and various carving tools such as v-tools, carving gouges and short wood chisels.

The commentary that starts at 10:40 about setup of the Tormek SVM-00 Small Knife Holder Jig are excellent.

Around 24:00, there is a discussion on sharpening hook knives (with the grind on the outside edge). Sharpening the inside edge must be done by hand, or using the method advocated in The Complete Guide to Sharpening (1996) by Leonard Lee.

Tormek Live Sharpening Class - Part 1. Knife sharpening

Wolfgang and Sèbastian from Tormek talk about different techniques for knife sharpening.

Jeff Farris - Knife Sharpening with Tormek
Steve Bottorff - Using Tormek Knife Jigs
Tormek Knife Jig SVM-45
Tormek Long Knife Jig SVM-140
Tormek Small Knife Holder SVM-00
Tormek AngleMaster WM-200
Herman Trivilino showing the use of a platform jig
Knife Grinders showing common Tormek mistakes in knife sharpening
Knife Grinders showing sharpening of knives with convex curves
Knife Grinders showing sharpening of knives with concave curves
Knife Grinders showing how to mounting the pin pivot collar on your knife jig

Pin Pivot Jig

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About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at