How to use hook knife?

How to use hook knife?
If you are a beginner in wood carving it is good for you to know the specific of different tools and how to use them in the right way. And in this blog we want to answer the question: how to use hook knife?
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How to use hook knife?

Hook knives are most commonly used for spoon carving and are also known as spoon carving knives. These knives are mainly used to scoop out the wood from a blank in order to create a bowl shape. Unlike a chisel, you don’t have to worry about rough cuts when using this knife. Additionally, if you use a hook knife, you can choose to avoid having to sand the bowl of your spoon – the blade will provide you with a relatively smooth finish.

When using a hook knife, you should make sure that you are holding it in your dominant hand and your thumb and other hand are clear of the path of the blade. Move your wrist in arced movements, making sure to be careful not to take too much material from the wood. Ensure that each motion drags across the width of the cavity you want to create so that there is no wood build-up in the middle.

While hook knives certainly aren’t the most versatile of woodcarving tools, they’re definitely a great addition to anyone’s tool kit. The hook knife is even better if you often work on projects that involve creating a bowl shape, such as spoons and bowls, as a hook knife can come in very handy then. Before you can start using your new knife, you first need to understand how to use it.


When it comes to using a hook knife, there are some techniques you can keep in mind and experiment with:

Hold the knife in your dominant hand

Ensure the knife is held securely in your fingers and your thumb is free. This will make it easier for you to use the knife without any delays. Additionally, this will allow you to use your thumb as an anchor when you use the blade. It is critical to ensure that your thumb is out of the way of the motion of the blade so that if you push the knife too far, it doesn’t hit your thumb and cause an injury.

Use the ‘potato peeler’ grip

Lay the knife flat on the surface of the wood, and tilt the blade slightly so that you can start to remove slivers of the wood from the larger piece. Move your wrist in a small, arced motion when using the knife, moving across the grain, and making sure not to dig in too deep, as you may end up taking out more material than you want to. This technique is a good one to use for spoon carving, especially when working on the bowl of the spoon. Remember to keep adjusting your grip so that your thumb remains out of the way of the knife.

Try the ‘twist cut’

Wrap the fingers of your non-dominant hand right around the knife, resting on either the handle or the blade. Then, hold the knife into the wood, and use your dominant hand to twist the knife – there is no pulling motion involved here. You can use the same motion across the grain and down the grain.

Try the ‘pivot’ grip

This grip requires you to use a hook knife that has a longer handle and will not be effective if you have a shorter, stubbier knife. Use your fingers to create a pivot point at the spot where the handle meets the blade. While doing so, make sure that the flesh of your hand is out of the way. Use your non-dominant hand to create this pivot, and then use your dominant hand to start removing material from the wood blank.

Tips how to work with a hook knife

  • When carving a knife, remember to drag your knife across the entire length of the bowl in order to avoid a build-up in the middle. Alternatively, you can start carving in the middle of the bowl and carve on both sides.
  • If there is build-up in the bowl of your spoon, you can use your hook knife to get rid of it. Drag the blade of the knife down the center of the bowl – where the build-up of the wood is – and slowly remove the material. Make sure to use a sharp knife so that your knife doesn’t get stuck.
  • Once you’ve removed most of the build-up, drag your blade along the bowl to create a level depression. This helps remove any imperfections you may have made if you removed too much material from the center of the spoon.
  • If the bowl of your spoon is shallow, and you can’t drag your hook knife into the bowl or find yourself fighting the grain, you may need to use another technique. This technique will allow you to carve in four directions, ensuring you don’t carve into the gran of the wood and weaken it, causing the spoon to snap.