Monday, October 1, 2012

My Latest Two Crooked Knives

Using crooked knives requires no more of a learning curve than employing any other sort of woodworking knife.  They may at first look odd but that is because, in truth, they conform more to the human form than do conventional knives.  The crooked knife is designed to be ergonomically proficient and when it comes to woodworking that concept lessens the probabilities of injury to the wrist and forearm muscles, ligaments and tendons.  In addition, crooked knives are given what is called a “chisel grind.”  That means they are beveled only on one side of the blade.  This can create problems for some since most crooked knives are built for either right or left-handed use.  So if you are left handed, for example, and you purchase a crooked knife built for a right handed person you will find it practically impossible to use the knife.  Some crooked knives are beveled on each opposite end of the blade to allow both right hand and left handed use.  But those knives suffer from disadvantages relating to spine strength and torsion stress sometimes associated with woodcarving.  Even so, a twin-beveled crooked knife is a good thing to have if its users might be either right or left handed.  In my case that is a moot point since I am right handed and thus need only bevel the left side of the blade.  If you purchase a twin-beveled crooked knife you will find you seldom if ever use the side intended for those who are opposite your dominant hand preference.

I use crooked knives extensively in my woodcarving.  The chisel bevel allows me to shave wood in increments not easily accomplished with a conventional woodcarving knife or any other type of knife.  The ability to shave wood comes in handy when making things that require detail work such as spoons, bowls, canoe paddles, canoe ribs, selfbows (I’ve used a Swiss Army Knife saw to cut staves and then used only a crooked knife to make entire bows), and other things like wood figures such as leaping gnomes and the like.

I’ve made dozens of crooked knives and as such I know just about everything one needs to know about what it takes to make them both useful and beautiful.  I’ve experimented with all sorts of blade shapes and contours and bevel angles and the like.  I’ve used different hardwoods both in terms of utility and aesthetics.  A well-made crooked knife is, for me at least, a thing of beauty.  The flowing contours of the overall knife as the curving blade melds into the handle and the handle sweeps gently into the thumb perch are inspiring.  Mono-dimensional creations where one knife looks just like the next are for me quite boring.  I want every knife I make to be unique.  Each project is therefore something new and I never seem to bore from making another knife.

I’ve got a bag full of knife blades ready to be hafted to wood and as time permits I will finish those knives even as other knives-to-be lie stored in a bag in the form of annealed files.   Someday they will be shaped, heat treated, tempered and then married to a beautiful wooden handle and perhaps be used to carve something that likewise will be unique.  In the interim this multiplicity of knives lies individually wrapped and stored to be taken out now and then and admired.  Below are closeups from my latest crooked knives.  I hope you like looking at them as much as I enjoy making them.

Note the chisel bevel in the closeup photo above.  The blade is beveled only on the topside.  The bottom side is left flat.

I've always been a sucker for pretty wood.

Some people like to carve designs into the thumb perch but I've never liked that.  I enjoy allowing the wood to make its own statement.