I have been busy with chip-carving a sella curulis lately and this is done with one tool. the (wood) carving knife. We know this tool was used in medieval times (and even up till now) based on the furniture and other wooden utensils that are left from this period. There is not much archeological evidence or illustrations (e.g. in miniatures) of medieval knives that can be directly correlated to woodcarving. Knives that are found can be used for many reasons and many trades.
In Novgorod, Russia, however, some medieval knives of the 12th and 13th century could be linked to woodcarving and whittling of carpenters and coopers. They had a curved blade and a down-turned tip lower than the axis of the handle carving.
Woodworking knives from Novgorod: (a) and (b) 13th century, (c) 12th century. (d) drawing of the blades with the axis
of the handle. Images from Wood use in medieval Novgorod by M. Brisbane and J. Hather.
Our woodcarving knife also has such a curved and downturned blade. The design resembles modern woodcarving knives. The blade of our knife was forged by the German mastersmith David Schütze (Wollschmiede). He is specialised in reconstructions of archaeological finds. The knife was especially hardened and whetted to perfection by him for hard woods like oak. I have added a handle of apple wood to it.
Another use of a knife (or an awl) in medieval woodworking is for marking lines and geometric designs. Many of such marks have been found on wooden objects (furniture, houses, etc.) dating from the middle ages. See the photos below for examples of knife marks on the medieval chests from the Luneburger cloisters (Germany).
(above) Knife marks providing guides for carving on chest TR-NR-400 from cloister Wienhausen, dating 1320. (right) Knife marks on the inside of the chest for the groove of the small tray. Photos from the book Die Gotischen Truhen der Luneburger Heidekloster, from K.H. von Stulpnagel.
Image of Antonio Barili (1453-1516) from Sienna, Italy. The artist carves the letters: HOC EGO ANTONIUS BARILIS OPVS COELO - NON PENICELLO EXCVSSI. AN.DN. MCCCCCII. (This work have I Antonio Barili made with the carving knife, not with a brush. In the year 1502.). Other tools shown are a gouge, a folding knife and a pencil. The woods used for the intarsia are pear, beech, walnut, maple and palisander. The intarsia sadly has been destroyed during the second world war.
The last knife used by medieval woodworkers discussed here is the spoon-carving or hollowing knife. This knife was exclusively used for carving the hollows of spoons and bowls. Again, they have been found in medieval Novgorod, Russia (11-14th century - along with more than 650 spoons), but also at Arhus and Trelleborg in Denmark (10-13th century).
11th-14th century spoon carving knives from Novgorod. Image from the cd of the book: Wood use in medieval Novgorod.