For cuts, we begin with the basics. Remember to always follow the 8 Blades of Knife Safety while carving with your knife.

Forward Cut

Most people think of the Forward Cut, the most basic cut, when they think of carving.

  1. Hold your knife with a Fist Grip in one hand. Hold the wood with a Fist Grip in your other hand.
  2. Position the blade edge onto the wood where you want to start your cut. Don’t form a perfect cross with the blade on the wood, instead angle the butt of the handle slightly away from you.
  3. Slice forward, away from the wood hand and the rest of your body.


Remember to use the full edge of your blade (don’t cut the cheese!). Also, a deeper angle takes off more layers of grain but requires more force. A shallower angle removes thinner slices and can build into bigger cuts.

SAFETY No Thumb Dies

Beginners often make the serious mistake of extending their thumb or fingers to brace the wood while holding it. This frequently leads to people carving off the tips of their digits.  Practice holding the wood with a Fist Grip by wrapping your thumb over the top part of your fingers. Also, don’t tilt your wood hand knuckles. Keep them at right angles to the wood.

That said, it’s not always practical to hold the wood in a Fist Grip, especially when working with larger or flat pieces. You may need to hold the wood differently. When using different wood grips always Pay Attention and be certain your wood hand and fingers lie well out of the path of the blade.

MODIFY Extension Cut

Use the Extension Cut to better remove bulk amounts of material while shaping wood. It’s just like the Forward Cut,  but  you hold your arms out straight in front of you. (No T-Rex arms!) Full-arm extension means you use the larger muscles of your upper body instead of the weaker muscles of your elbow or wrist.

TRACKERS TIP Don’t Cut the Cheese

When you cut cheese, you cut with just one part of the blade. Wood is not cheese. When you cut wood, try to use the full blade edge, from the base to the tip or the tip to the base. This also prevents dulling on one part of the edge.

Next cut, The Push Cut.

Also check out:

8 Blades of Knife Safety & Care
Safely Sheathing a Knife