Preferred Edge Knives
Preferred Edge Knives address

Welcome to Preferred Edge
About Us and Our Tools
New Products
Our Knives
pfeil chisels
Using Our Knives
Links to sites of Interest
Contact Us

Carving by Richard Baker Sr.
Carving by
Richard Baker Sr.

Using a Double Edge Bent Knife


It is hard to really track down where bent knives started out. Many carvers have found them to be very useful.

You are able to get into places where chisels can't reach. If you read on you will see what I mean.


Carving Illustrated wrote of world famous carver Chris Pye: Although Chris Pye is a traditional carver and not known as a user of knives as such, he does see carving gouges as essentially "glamorous, curved knives with the handle moved around to the side". The hook knives proved perfect for the particular work in hand and elsewhere. It was also obvious that other carvers, particularly knife carvers, would find them a very useful part of their kit of tools as well.

The blades of these knives are mounted close to the surface of the back of the handle that makes it easier to work close to the surface of the wood.

A benefit of the double edge bent knife is: when you are carving and the grain in the wood starts to travel in another direction all you have to do is use the other side of the knife to bring the cut in the opposite direction. All you are doing is cutting in the opposite direction instead of having to turn the whole carving around.

To understand how and where the certain curved knives are used I will try and explain the other benefits. I am sure when you try them you find the areas where these knives will benefit you as a carver. Bent knives can be used in many different areas of carving. The knives can be used in concave areas and for the relief cuts in the background of a relief carving. The blades on these knives can be used to the very tip making it very easy to cut right into a stop cut. A Preferred Edge sharpened bent knife can cut across the grain on red cedar with out tiring the wood. It also helps if you use a slicing action for this cut.


The blade is made from a high-grade tool steel. The steel code is L6. L6 was engineered for woodcutting saw blades and related tools. The Rockwell hardness on these bent blades after they have been heat treated by Preferred Edge are RC 57+. At this hardness these tools are easy to sharpen and stay sharp for a long time.


Bent knives can have a bevel on the inside or the backside. There are benefits to both bevels. Each one will have to be sharpened differently. See sharpening instructions on .


With the bevel on the inside the dig can have a more aggressive dig. This blade wants to dig into the wood because the bevel is on the inside. When this blade wants to dig too much all you have to do is use the opposite side of the blade and cut in the opposite direction.


In most cases when the bevel is on the back or bottom side you have better control of the digging. The cut with this blade wants to stay toward the top of the wood. With this tool there is less chatter when you are cutting in a tighter radius.


There are three main versions of the bent knife. Slow Curve, High Curve and Hook. They will be explained a little more in depth as we go along. Each version of these knives can be held the same way when you start using them. To hold these knives lay the back of the handle in the palm of your hand that you will be using to carve. The tip of the blade should be pointed upward as shown in DIAGRAM A. Place the thumb toward the top of the handle and the little finger should be wrapped around the cord above the blade. See DIAGRAM B

Diagram A Diagram B
Diagram A
Diagram B

There are different ways to use the bent knives. I have had carving lessons, observed carvers and used carving tools myself. I have found that to get the best use of these knives, hold it in your hand at a 90 degree angle, the way it is mentioned above.
To start out put the bottom of the blade flat on the wood that you will be carving on. The handle of the knife at this point should be angled back about 15 degrees and blade laying flat on the heel of the blade. Use the heel of the blade to carve with, then angle the handle toward you 5 to 10 degree to start with. Make sure that your elbow is tucked into your side and then put some pressure on the knife and start to drag it toward you.
Through the cut keep your wrist straight and when you want to cut out pull the blade of the knife up toward you. IF the blade feels like it is digging in too much, stop and make a cut from the opposite way, using the opposite side of the blade.

The angle of the knife will determine the depth of the cut meaning the more the knife is angle off of the vertical 90 degree the further it will dig in. You should not have the angle of the vertical 90 degrees any more then 20 degrees. In other words the knife handle should not be any more then 70 degree toward you, see Diagram C

Diagram C
Diagram C

When using all three of these knives remember to keep your elbow to your side and your wrist straight and pull or push depending on the direction of cut, the knife blade should be up when you want to cut out.

The knife has a cutting edge on both sides so you will want to use both cutting edges. You will be able to do a push or pull action with this knife. This will save you the effort of turning your carving around when the wood grain changes direction.

This theory can be used in all three different bent knives. It usually takes some practice so don't get discouraged. To practice get a piece of clear quarter sawn also known as edge grain wood and try the cuts pitching the handle at different degrees. Don't stop the practice until you are comfortable with the cuts you are getting.

As was mentioned there are three basic shapes in the bent knife category. There is a slow or slight curve, a high carve and a hook.


Some carvers also call this the plaining or planer knife. As it suggests this knife has a very slight curve toward the end of the blade. This knife can be used for the shallow concaved areas and also for plaining and leveling on relief carving areas. For example, sometimes an area had to be leveled to draw reference lines. The blade is sharpened out to the tip so you will have no problem cleaning out an area up against your stop cut. With the pointy part of the knife you will be able to get into tight areas and make effective cuts. Again you can travel in either direction for your cut.


This knife is a higher curve then the previous knife. The blade will have a large radius in it. Depending on the size of the blade the blade will bend up to almost 90 degree. It is sharpened to the tip of the blade. The wide curve or radius makes it excellent for cleaning out knife marks left behind by other knives like the hook knife. This knife is also very valuable in deep relief carving. I use this knife to level and clean the flat areas of a relief carving. You are able to get into tight angled areas. Cutting across the grain is usually no problem with this knife. Try and use the slicing method with this practice.


Easily recognized by the hook at the end of the blade. This knife is very useful in roughing out bowels and spoons and also concaved areas of a relief carving. I have had sculptors, in Switzerland, use this knife for skirted areas and areas like under the arm or in a crotch area where there is a tight radius. In these areas this knife is used like a scorp. This knife is also great for using across the grain. I would also like to remind you that the angle of the knife would determine the depth of the cut. Also remember to hold your wrist straight and pull the blade up toward you when you want to cut out.

For further useful information on using bent knives please read the article in Woodworking in America.

Using Bent Knives - Woodworking in America

If you need more help please call Mike at 1-888-811-5551.