What is a Hook Knife & How to Sharpen it?

Hook Knife

In my quest to learn about every knife there is, I often find myself with some odd tools. Recently, I came across quite an unusual knife. This knife was a hook knife.

This knife was so strange to me at first. Not many people know how to use it, sharpen it, or how to choose the right one. I used to be as clueless to hook knives as you may be right now, but over time, I learned all about it.

Today, I want to share this information with you. If you’re curious about hook knives, or if any of these questions is boggling you, you’ve come to the right place. This is all you need to know about hook knives.

What are Hook Knives?

I do some woodworking from time to time, so this tool caught my attention like a magnet. I purchased one right away, even though I wasn’t sure how to use it.

I quickly searched the web for information on hook knives, only to come away disappointed. There are very few resources on this unusual blade. After browsing for some time, I still didn’t have a clue about this knife.

But after talking with my woodworking friends, and spending hours playing around with it on my workbench, I finally got a deeper understanding of this knife. Yes, it’s quite an odd one, but hook knives are super good at what they do.

If you’ve never seen a hook knife before, you’re probably wondering what on earth they are.

Hook knives are woodworking tools used for scooping out wood. It is a sharp-sided flat hook that is attached to a wooden handle. The tip is often pointed, although some do have flat tips.

Hook knives have been around for centuries. Despite this, a lot of people overlook them when it comes to woodworks. We all have our axes, saws, and woodworking tools, but hook knives are often left out.

The reason for this is because of how specific hook knives are. They aren’t versatile, they were made for one thing and one thing only. That said, they are the very best at what they do.

So what do hook knives do?

What do Hook Knives do?

There’s one thing that hook knives do better than every other tool, that is scooping. This is the one thing that these knives were made for. Nothing beats hook knives when it comes to this.

What is scooping, you may ask? These knives are designed to scoop out wood and form a bowl shape. You can use other tools to scoop out a bowl shape in big pieces of wood. But when it comes to small scoops, it can be very difficult.

That’s why the hook knife is still around today. Nothing is better at forming wooden spoons than this tool. Nothing creates that smooth scoop of wood better than the hook knife.

Other tools just don’t cut it. You can use a chisel, but this will create very rough cuts. You’ll have to sand that afterward, which is quite a hassle. With a hook knife, you can create the same cut without the extra steps.

There’s something very fulfilling about carving your own wooden bowl and spoons. With this tool, you’ll have a much easier time doing this, and still, get the satisfaction of doing everything by hand.

It isn’t only bowls and spoons though. You can use your hook knife whenever you want to shave off wood in a bowl-shape. Whatever that maybe, the hook knife is the right tool.

Aside from that, there isn’t much your hook knife does. It does have sharp edges that you can use for cutting a number of things. But the way it’s shaped limits what you can do with it.

How to Choose a Hook Knife

So now you want a hook knife. You want to create those perfect scoops you can’t get anywhere else. The next question now is what to look for in your hook knife.

It’s true that hook knives aren’t that common. But as you search for one, you’ll find that there are differences between hook knives. Not all hook knives were made the same.

When I got my first hook knife, I had no idea what to look for. I got the one that had the best aesthetic for me. As I learned more though, I began to learn what makes a good hook knife.

So what are you looking for in a hook knife? How do you choose the right one for you? Let me share with you what I’ve learned.

Steel

One of the first things you should look at when buying any knife is the steel. The steel that the knife uses makes a big difference.

The two most common types of steel are carbon steel and stainless steel. If you’ve been with us for a while, you should know what the differences between these two are.

Carbon steel is harder, sharper, and can hold its edge for a long time. The only problem with this steel is that it is difficult to maintain. If you’re not careful, it can catch rust in no time.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, is not as hard, not as sharp, and loses its edge faster. But you won’t have to worry about rust appearing.

Knowing the difference between these two will help you choose the best hook knife for yourself.

Blade

Another super important thing to check is the blade of your hook knife. As I’ve already mentioned, some of these have a pointed tip, while others don’t.

Pointed tips make it easier for you to scoop in a circular motion. Use the tip like a compass tool to get a rounded cut. Of course, you don’t have to. But this feature can be very useful.

Other blades have flat tips. This allows you to get out more ‘meat’ as you carve. You can use these types to get deeper scoops of wood.

Blades also come in single and double edges. Single-edged hook knives favor one hand, usually the right. But others were made for left-handed people. Be sure to check the edges before you buy a hook knife.

Handle

Moving downwards, we get to the handle. Most people pay careful attention to the blade of a knife, but very little on the handle. This is a mistake because the handle is just as important.

If you get a bad handle, using your knife will be very uncomfortable. Hand carving will be tiresome and maybe even painful.

Carving puts a lot more strain on your hand than, say, slicing onions does. This is why it’s so important to get a hook knife with a good feel. It should feel comfortable and lightweight.

Most handles will fit in one hand. However, there are some hook knives with long handles. If you want to cut very deep into the wood, a long handle will help you. You can use both hands to push down hard on the wood as you scoop.

Price

Last but not least, you have to consider the price of your hook knife.

One mistake a lot of first-timers make is buying an expensive hook knife right away. They invest money on this, only to find that they rarely use it.

That’s why if you’re new to wood carving, I’d say its wise to get a cheaper one first. This way, you can see whether you enjoy it or not. You’ll also find how often you use it.

If you find those hook knives are for you, then invest in a better one. A high-quality hook knife is a joy to use. So spend that extra cash for a good one when you know you want it.

My Recommendations For The Best Hook Knives

Still can’t choose a good hook knife? Let me help you out. Here are three of my recommended hook knives:

1. Elemental Tools Wood Spoon Carving Knife

Sale
Elemental Tools Wood Spoon Carving Knife: Hook Knife Wood Carving Tool for Spoon, Kuksa Cup and Bowl Carving- 65mn Steel Spoon Carving Knife - Great Curved Knife for Beginners to Expert Craftsmen
63 Reviews
Elemental Tools Wood Spoon Carving Knife: Hook Knife Wood Carving Tool for Spoon, Kuksa Cup and Bowl Carving- 65mn Steel Spoon Carving Knife - Great Curved Knife for Beginners to Expert Craftsmen
  • ❗ GREAT FOR BEGINNERS OR EXPERTS ❗Our wood...
  • ❗ GREAT GIFT IDEA❗ Give the gift of...
  • ❗ HIGH CARBON STEEL BLADES❗ Our spoon carving...
  • ❗ERGONOMIC BLACK WALNUT HANDLE❗ Unlike other...
  • ❗ALL KINDS OF USES❗Our hook knives can be used...

Last update on 2020-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The great thing about Elemental Tools’ spoon carving knife is that it is great for beginners and experts alike. For beginners, this is the hook knife that will get you into carving. It is so affordable, everyone can get their hands on one of these.

For the experts, this hook knife is everything a hook knife should be. With its 1.25 in. hook diameter and 3.5 in. long handle, it is the perfect size.

The handle is made from black walnut wood. It looks and feels amazing in your hands.

The only downside is that this isn’t the highest quality hook knife. You have to be careful when you use it, it can’t survive rough usage.

Pros
  • High-carbon steel
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not the most durable

Read More Customer Reviews on Amazon  


Morakniv Wood Carving Hook Knife

Morakniv Wood Carving Hook Knife 164 with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, 0.5-Inch Internal Radius
160 Reviews
Morakniv Wood Carving Hook Knife 164 with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, 0.5-Inch Internal Radius
  • Hook knife wood carving tool for carving spoons,...
  • Single-edged blade makes it suitable for pull cuts...
  • Top grade Swedish 12C27 stainless steel features...
  • Ergonomically designed oiled birch wood handle for...
  • Total length 6.3 inches (160 mm); blade length 2.0...

Last update on 2020-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking for a professional hook knife, this is the one for you. Morakniv’s hook knife is super high-quality.

It doesn’t matter what you throw at your Morakniv, it will stand up very well. It is super strong and can hold its edge for a long time.

Since it is also a stainless steel blade, you won’t have to worry about maintenance so much. As long as you clean and keep your knife after using it, rust won’t appear.

The price of this hook knife is no joke. But when you see how good it is, you’ll find that it is well worth it.

Pros
  • High-quality
  • Stainless steel
  • Durable
Cons
  • Expensive

Read More Customer Reviews on Amazon  


BeaverCraft Hook Knife SK2

BeaverCraft Hook Knife SK2 Oak 1.2' Blade Wood Carving Spoon Knife for Bowl Cups Spoons Carving Right Handed Wood Carving Knife Curved Tools for Beginners
147 Reviews
BeaverCraft Hook Knife SK2 Oak 1.2" Blade Wood Carving Spoon Knife for Bowl Cups Spoons Carving Right Handed Wood Carving Knife Curved Tools for Beginners
  • ⚡️ WOOD CARVING HOOK KNIFE: Designed...
  • ⚡️ HIGH-QUALITY CARBON STEEL BLADE OF HOOK...
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  • ⚡️ ERGONOMIC HANDLE: The outdoor spoon knife...
  • ⚡️ BEST GIFT FOR EVERYONE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH...

Last update on 2020-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

BeaverCraft has its own line-up of hook knives and carving tools. One of these is the SK2, which features a flat-tipped blade. As you now know, this will allow you to scoop deeper into the wood.

This hook knife is single-edged, but they have a right-hand and left-hand option. This way, you can always use your dominant hand when carving.

High-carbon steel means a strong, sharp blade. However, you’ll find that it doesn’t hold its edge very long. You’ll need to sharpen it quite a lot.

Which brings us to our next point.

Pros
  • High-carbon steel
  • Two-handed options
  • Flat tip
Cons
  • Need sharpening

Read More Customer Reviews on Amazon  


How to Sharpen a Hook Knife?

One of the first things that came to my mind when I got my first hook knife was, “How on earth do I sharpen this?”

This knife was unlike any other I’ve sharpened before. Its curved edge makes it daunting to work on.

Surprisingly though, it isn’t difficult to sharpen a hook knife at all. All you need is a dowel, sandpaper, and strops.

With these, you can sharpen your hook knives in 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Wrap dowel

The first step is to take sandpaper and wrap it around your dowel. Depending on how blunt your knife is, choose between coarse, medium, or fine-grit sandpaper.

Wrap your sandpaper around the dowel with the grit-side facing outwards. This will serve as your sharpener.

Step 2: Sharpen!

The reason why you use a dowel is so that you can get inside the hook. No other tool allows you to sharpen this way.

Fine the bevel and its angle, and rub your makeshift sharpener against it. Do this in smooth strokes, and make sure you sharpen the entire hook.

After a few strokes, feel for a burr. Once you feel it, your hook knife is ready to go.

Step 3: Polish

But before you use your hook knife, make sure you polish it first. Take your strop, add some compound, and remove all the imperfections.

To get in the hook, wrap your strop on the dowel as you did with the sandpaper. And stroke it against the blade in the exact same manner as the sandpaper.

Conclusion

So there you have it! Hook knives. So unusual, so unique, but so amazing at what they do.

And now, you know all there is to know about hook knives.

If you’re planning to get one, you know what to look for.

If you have one, you now know how to sharpen it.

And if you’ve never heard of these knives before, you now know all there is to know about hook knives.

    Ahmed

    I’m Ahmed, the guy behind Knifepulse.com. I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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