Types of cuts in whittling

types of cuts in whittling

Most basic whittling requires your knife and hands only and is not complicated. There are four types of cuts in whittling.

The four basic types of cuts are Pull Cut, Push Cut, V-cut, and Stop Cut and you can use these cuts to complete your carving. Understanding and mastering this cut will make your experience more rewarding.

Read all about wood carving techniques

Basic Knife cuts for whittling

Pull Cut

This type of cut has similar features to the paring cut that is used when peeling vegetables and you will use this cut for most of your projects. The safety concern of his cut is that the knife blade is drawn towards the thumb on your knife hand. The best way to protect yourself from this is to use thumb guards and this will prevent you from accidental cuts.

To develop pull cut;

paring cut pull cut

-Wrap all your fingers around the handle

-Sink the blade into the wood about an inch above your thumb

-Place your thumb on the end of the wood.

-Holding the knife carefully and with great control over it, pull it towards you. Do not try cutting the wood too deep because it will require you a lot of force and you may injure yourself badly.

-Finish the cut against your thumb pad.

Push Cut

This cut is made by pushing the blade away from you when whittling and the pull cut cannot reach. When using this cut, you cut the material with a straight motion using the same spot on the edge to cut the material.

This cut mainly involves removing rough excess wood from the wood you are whittling in. It is not hard to understand because you simply push the blade away from

To develop push cut;

push cut

-Wrap all your four fingers around the hand of the knife

-Position the thumb of your knife hand on the handle just before the back of the blade

-Locate the thumb of your holding hand on the back of the blade to guide your cut.

-Apply steady pressure to the back of the blade to push the knife into the wood.

-Push the knife all the way through the complete cut carefully and with great control.


When whittling and you want to show a special feature like hair or you want to show distinct lines to distinguish particular features on your project, the type of cut that will be suitable for you is the V-cut. This cut is based on the pull and push cuts.

It involves making your cuts at an angle of 45-degrees and performing another 45-degrees cut directly below the original. The thumb push provides more control with your tool

To develop V-cuts;


-Using a Pull cut, place only the tip of the blade in the wood.

-Angle the knife so you make a cut slightly to the right of the line

-Turn the wood and make a similar cut on the other side of the line.

-When you are done, a V-shape wood sliver will poop out of the cut.

Stop Cuts

A Stop cut has similar features to a V-cut, and this cut is where you integrate two cuts. The first cut is straight while the other cut slopes into the first cut. A stop cut limits the length of the later cuts and is often made across the grain

The top cut can be made with a knife or a gouge, and some whittlers use a mallet if they want to make deeper cuts.

To develop stop cut;

stop cut

-Make the first cut perpendicular to the wood

-Turn the wood and angle the second cut to meet the first

-After meeting the two cuts together, a sliver will pop out.

Conclusion on type of cuts in whittling

These cuts are not hard to learn, and you should be very careful while making these cuts. Make sure your tool is sharp because you have a higher chance of injuring yourself when they are blunt. If you’re new to sharpening wood carving tools check out our beginners guide on sharpening tools

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