Making your own whittling or wood carving knife is not very hard at all. You just need a straight razor, pliers and a few other tools of your choice to sharpen it, this can be done at home and does not require any extraordinary skills, anyone including you can do it. So, how do you make a carving knife from a straight razor?
To make a knife out of a straight razor you need to shape the steel of the razor to a smaller and more convenient size by breaking the sharp edge down. After you will need to use a 325-400 grit whetstone to smooth the rough surface and a 1000 grit whetstone to sharpen the razor. Simply change the handle on the straight razor after to turn in into a carving knife.
In this article, we will be going step by step over the process of creating a convenient to use carving knife, as well as provide you with some tips and tricks that will be useful if you have never done it before.
Step-By-Step Guide To Creating a Wood Carving Knife Out Of a Straight Razor
Creating a carving knife out of a straight razor is a rather short process, with that said, there is more to it than you may first think. To be sure you get the best possible result, follow our way of doing it in with our 6 steps to create a carving knife.
1.Have a good straight razor
This is actually a more important step than it may seem at first glance. Cheap low quality steel will not be sufficient enough material to carve wood, therefore getting a good razor made from good steel is a crucial step to creating a carving knife.
The better the steel of the straight razor, the more durable and safer your carving knife will be. Thin or low quality steel is very likely to break off and generally be a worse experience carving.
If you are looking to purchase a good straight razor you can get the cut throat razor with a wooden handle on Amazon, otherwise, if you are buying the razor elsewhere or using your own, make sure there is enough steel in the razor to create a carving knife out of it. Keep in mind that the sharp edge will be almost fully removed during the transformation, so make sure you have enough to carve with afterward.
2. Remove the handle
From here onwards we advise you to wear a mask and protective goggles.
Now you need to separate the blade from the handle to work on the steel of the razor. There are multiple ways to remove the handle, and not many of them are clean.
You can use anything from a screwdriver to leverage it to open, to a drill or other power carving tools to cut it open and peel the wood off.
The way we do it is we clamp the razor and saw the area that holds the nail of the handle closest to the blade, after you can remove the nail, the rest is easy.
3. Plan a rectangular shape of the steel
Straight razors are too long both ways to be used for whittling, therefore you yourself have to come to an optimal size for them.
It is very important that you take off the length both ways; from the handle to the end of the knife and from the sharp edge to the dull edge. The second one is often missed, however, it is very important to plan this ahead as you will end up taking it off regardless of whether you want it or not.
The best way to plan the shape of your knife is with a permanent marker. If you color in the excess steel on the razor it will be much easier to go through with the next step.
Keep in mind, that you don’t want it to be too small. Knives made from straight razors are much larger than carving knives, and this is normal.
4. Take off the excess steel
There are multiple ways to complete this step, the most “home-friendly” way is using flat-nosed pliers or generally any pliers that preferably are large.
To remove excess steel from a straight razor you must firmly secure the blade using clamps, then using pliers carefully break down the steel from the sharp edge. The result will look unorganized at first, however, after you sharpen the knife the edge will look just how it is supposed to.
Take a look at the video below to see exactly how this is done, skip to 7:20 to see how the pliers are used.
An important tip to keep in mind is to be relatively gentle when breaking down the steel. Although breaking steel with pliers does not sound gentle the steel of a straight razor is very thin and can easily break more than you intend it to.
5. Sharp the carving knife with a whetstone
We have a complete article on how to sharpen carving knives with a whetstone, we recommend you take a look at it before attempting to sharpen it yourself.
To summarize though, you will need to start at a very low grit of at least 400, and preferably lower. This will help you get rid of the very rough and unfinished parts of your knife. To achieve sharpness to up to at least 1000 grit and from there you can already start carving wood with such an edge.
6. Create and attach a handle
While you can buy an already created handle for your knife, this defeats the purpose of the project, so we will be covering how to create the handle yourself.
First of all, you need to take the opportunity and decide what handle do you think will fit you best. Usually, when carvers buy knives they rarely look at how the handle is made as long as it looks somewhat comfortable, where as now you can create the perfect shape and size for your handle.
If you would like to know the full guide on creating a handle by yourself you can watch this fairly long but very informative video below. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing you can also read our key takeaways from the video.
- Take a large piece of wood, preferably with square-shaped sides, and drill a hole in it
- Shape it to be the ultimate size, anywhere between 4-6 inches in length is good
- It’s best to start with a larger handle and cut it shorter if the length feels too long
- Put glue in the whole to combine it with the razor
- Cut off a 45° angle on the top and bottom of the handle from the side closest to the razor. This will allow you to access more of the blade without the handle getting in the way. (learn more on 6:40)
- You should also sand and finish the handle as you would a carving
There is much more to creating the perfect handle than just that, but the basics are probably all you need for this kind of project.
Pros And Cons Of Using a carving Knife Made From a Razor
Of course, there is a reason why most woodcarvers use wood carving knives and not razor blades sharpened into a carving knife to carve wood. However, perhaps they are missing out on something by not doing so as well? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to find out.
Pros of straight razor carving knives
Of course, the main benefit of creating such knives is that they could turn out to be pretty cheap if you have a spare razor that you are not using. Instead of buying a knife, or taking a knife with you when traveling that you are worried about losing you can just quickly make a carving knife for almost free out of a spare razor.
Sometimes normal knives break, and if you don’t have a spare one, and it will take a month for your favorite knife to ship to you, you can simply make one, for the time being, and discard it once your knife is fixed/bought. In the meantime, however, you can still carve.
We also can’t leave out the part that a lot of people actually made went through the struggles of this project for. Simply for the fun of it. If you want to have a unique knife that you created yourself, that not so much helps you carve but definitely looks good, this is just the idea for you.
Cons of straight razor carving knives
There are actually quite a lot of disadvantages to using a straight razor knife instead of a usual carving knife. One of them is safety, a razor knife is not so well adapted to the wood especially if the steel is thin and not as expensive. Knives that are dull are not only harder to carve with but also less safe.
Apart from safety, another concern regarding such self-made knives is that they simply don’t carve as well as a beevercraft carving knifes that are very affordable (under 20 bucks) and are a pleasure to use. If you are in a rush to carve something then check how long it takes Amazon to deliver it to you, often it’s only a matter of a few days.
Finally, another concern is durability. As we mentioned, earlier straight razors could be recycled and turned into a carving knife. However, the lifespan of such a knife will be 1/20th of a lifespan of a normal carving knife, which may mean in the long run, it will cost you more to keep creating new ones.
To conclude the project is a lot of fun, however, carvers that say that straight razor knives are best for them only speak for themselves as most people will find normal knives easier to handle. With that said, creating your own carving knife is a very fun project that anyone will thoroughly enjoy.
We hope this article was useful and that your self made knife will be very practical and safe to use. If you’d like to learn more about wood carving, be sure to surf the website for a little more before you go.