Spoon carving starts with a blank, a rectangular piece of wood hewn from a log or branch. Using a hatchet, band saw or bow saw you cut out the rough shape of the spoon including “crank” the bend which occurs in eating spoons and ladles. The finish work is done with a straight knife. The knife I grab most often is the Mora 106.
Almost every spoon carver seems to own a Mora 106 knife. One reason it is so ubiquitous is that it is very inexpensive. You can buy one for less than $25. The second reason, of course, is that it’s a very good knife. Better, I’ve found, than many more expensive blades. The Mora knives come from Sweden. The 106 is long (3.25”) and thin (less than a half inch). The thinness allows the carver to work in concave areas. The length allows for long slicing cuts. A shorter blade might seem safer but one can get used to the three inch blade especially after nicking yourself a couple times.
The blade is laminated. That is, made by layering soft steel over a center of harder steel. This knife is also machine made which is why it is cheaper than hand forged blades. This sandwich of hard in the middle and softer on the outside makes sharpening a bit easier.
They need to be sharpened enough to pass the paper test where the knife can slice clean strips off the edge of a piece of paper.
The grind on a carving knife is called a Scandi grind. There is no secondary bevel because we want the knife to be able to lay flat against the object being carved. The Scandi grind is like a very narrow “V”. These knives rate high on the Rockwell Scale. The Rockwell Scale is a metallurgical measurement of hardness. A good kitchen knife is rated 56-58. The Mora’s hardness on that scale is 61.
I started carving with a North Bay Forge straight knife. This is a hand forged blade made on Waldron Island. It’s a more expensive knife because it is hand made. It’s a very easy knife to use. And, hard to nick yourself with it as the blade is only 1 3/4”.
I also have a Mora 120 which is shorter than the 106. I got this first and used it a lot but rarely choose it over the 106.
Sometimes the long reach of a hunting knife is helpful when you need some leverage. I’m lucky to have a really nice one made by Bark River in Wisconsin. It’s very satisfying to sharpen it to paper slicing sharpness.