Crooked Knives
November 15, 2006 4:13 PM   Subscribe

How to make a crooked knife via mo-co-ta-gan. The Museum of Woodworking Tools has a very fine example.
posted by tellurian (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool, thanks.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:17 PM on November 15, 2006


thanks, very handy!
posted by Rumple at 4:39 PM on November 15, 2006


My one, I made out of an old trap spring, which is the best steel you can get.

'Tis not my experience. Back when I did knife smithing, I preferred to use leaf-springs. Dirt cheap at the junkyard for a nice relatively straight hunk of high carbon steel. Can't beat that.

D2 steel is even better, but it ain't cheap.

Still, interesting article. I may just have to make one of these. Just to see if it's really the "most tool I ever used in my life".
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on November 15, 2006


Zen and the Art of Crooked Knives.
posted by Kino at 4:49 PM on November 15, 2006


Ray Mears, who does survival and fieldcraft tv shows on the bbc and (maybe sometimes) on Discovery, uses a crook knife to produce some amazing things in the field. His shows are pretty good by the way.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:58 PM on November 15, 2006


What about the knife makes it more useful than any fixed-blade drop-point knife? I mean, what are the qualities of the knife that make it so much tool -- the grip? The blade? I just don't quite get it.

And the affected dialect in the main link is laaaaaame.
posted by mistermoore at 5:09 PM on November 15, 2006


Some people call it a kaiser blade, me ...
posted by rikschell at 5:37 PM on November 15, 2006


what are the qualities of the knife that make it so much tool -- the grip? The blade?
Both mistermoore, on the mocotagan site there is a downloadable (in chapters) book. Pages 34-39 have information on 'The Anatomy of the Mocotaugan' and 'How a Modern Master uses a Mocotaugan'.
“He then picked up his crooked knife and held its grip in his upturned righthand, the blade poking out to the left. The blade was bent near its outer end (enabling it to move in grooves and hollows where the straight part could not). Both blade and grip were shaped like nothing I’ve ever seen. The grip, fashioned for the convenience of a hand closing over it, was bulbous...
The book is a wonderful reference in my opinion (have a look at the portfolios at the end, the workmanship is exceptional).
posted by tellurian at 6:10 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


What about the knife makes it more useful than any fixed-blade drop-point knife?

It's crooked.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2006


WALLACE McLEAN
NORTH WEST RIVER

THEM DAYS VOL. 5.1


mrmoore, I'm pretty sure that the diallect isn't affected. That's transcribed from a tape recording.
posted by atrazine at 7:04 PM on November 15, 2006


OK then, that dialect is laaaaaame.

/was mostly kidding, anyway
posted by mistermoore at 8:24 PM on November 15, 2006


Argh! The italics were inflection, atrazine, not a spelling correction.

I'm not actually a dick. I swear.
posted by mistermoore at 8:26 PM on November 15, 2006


heh. I really like the dialect. Made me want to buy a Crooked Knife(TM)!
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:35 PM on November 15, 2006


I'm not actually a dick. I swear.

Suuuuure, you're not.

Kidding
posted by Pollomacho at 8:40 PM on November 15, 2006


Wow, I love the narration. It really adds credibility to all the claims of utility being made on this thing. What can it do that's so unique?
posted by tehloki at 10:03 PM on November 15, 2006


Yeah, I read a few of these pages, searched the site some, and didn't find any real world uses except a pic of someone whittling a new paddle for his canoe. Now, by an extraordinary coincidence, I have three canoes and only one paddle, but I's buying masel new ones.

So, other than that, what's it for?!
posted by imperium at 1:14 AM on November 16, 2006


[This is cool!]
posted by OmieWise at 7:39 AM on November 16, 2006


I was having a lot of trouble picturing how these are used too.

This site has lots of pictures including a close up of someone actually holding a crooked knife.

The same site also tells me these knives "let you whittle concave surfaces into wood" Oh, now I get it. Now I want one. Cool.
posted by bobobox at 7:54 AM on November 16, 2006


Basically, if you live in a world of wood technology, these knives are the difference between two days work and two months work. Crooked knives work as planes, draw knives, adzes, lathes, and chisels. They were essential to making birch bark and wood canoes - carving ribs and gunwhales, stripping bark, slitting elm strips to sew the bark, etc. Before the invention of canvas backpacks, Indians and frontier settlers, like the French Canadian voyageurs and couriers du bois, carried things in bark baskets, again made by crooked knives. In an era where trappers and hunters walked into the forest for weeks with only what they could carry on their back, a hatchet, a knife, and a crooked knife were like having a full woodshop at your disposal.
posted by zaelic at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ohhh, it's a woodworking tool. The way it came across to me, I thought it was some kind of deadly ninja secret weapon.
posted by tehloki at 3:22 PM on November 16, 2006


Ohhh, it's a woodworking tool.

And that is actually an interesting distinction. I worked in the cutlery world for quite a while before I realized that this concept is separate but importantly related. I sharpened many knives. Many, many knives. Then a wood-worker brought me his chisels. In my life chisels were dull things you used to crack locks. His tools demonstrated that a proper chisel should be razor sharp. I mean razor sharp; you should be able to shave with that thing.

I only own a few chisels now, but I can promise you, they are not dull. As has been demonstrated to me, that would be an incorrect way to take care of one of your tools.
posted by quin at 12:00 AM on November 17, 2006


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