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Friday, 17 April 2015

Bespoke Hand Tools: The MiniMac Woodcarving Knife

This is the best woodcarving knife I have ever used - by a very long way.

It is the finished product of a long collaboration between two good friends of mine, both of them wonderfully skilled craftsmen. Creative artist and woodcarver Jon Mac from Dartmoor and custom knifemaker Chris Grant from Arbroath.

The knife began as a bespoke commission for Jon's work carving elegant spoons, bowls and kuksa. When you watch Jon carve you'll quickly grasp the care and consideration with which he approaches all creative tasks, the design of this tool is no exception. There isn't a straight line on it, and every curve has been considered, refined and perfected by hand and eye. 

Chris thrives on the creative process, he gets deeply involved in the design of each project, feeding in his rich experience of blade steels and heat treatment processes. Working to the highest standards in metal, wood and leather, he brings everything together to deliver an exquisitely handcrafted product. He only makes knives, but boy does he make knives! 

The development since the original commission has been entirely organic, other carvers have tried the knife and been sufficiently blown away by its performance and dexterity that, with Jon's blessing, they have commissioned their own. Jon is a big guy with large hands, so when the stream of people who wanted one showed no sign of abating, the two got together again to work on a smaller version of his original design that would be better suited to people with average sized hands.

The result is the MiniMac, same sweet balance in exactly the same spot as the MaChris, same extraordinary edge strength, but when you compare the two side by side you can see that the subtleties of both the blade and handle shape have all been completely reworked. The MiniMac is a stick tang, which makes it considerably lighter, although in use they both just blend into the hand.

I've had this MiniMac for a few months now, and apart from a couple of very light dressing strokes on 5 micron lapping film I am still using the original shaving sharp edge. 

The MiniMac has very quickly become an integral part of how I work; to the extent that trying to carve with anything else just feels wrong. I can work with it for hours with no fatigue and place cuts with a level of precision I had previously not understood. It is no understatement to say that I would now be at a loss without it.

Could you still carve with a lesser knife? Of course you can, absolutely, but at the end of the day I carve for pleasure. There is nothing quite so luxurious as leaning against a tree on a sunny afternoon with a really good knife and a nice piece of wood and relishing every single cut.


  1. Hand tools are of utmost importance and are indispensable. It is a common practice among us to try our hands at woodworking. It is a favorite activity when we have spare time and nothing else to do. It transforms our time into something more meaningful. This of course is a new craft to be learnt.

  2. Anxiously waiting for stock to be finished so I can buy mine.