Friday, May 24, 2013

An Array of Crooked and Hook Knives (Part Two)

There’s not much deviation in design in the traditional crooked knife.  The hook knife on-the-other-hand can be quite varied.  That’s because the hook knife’s applications and thus specific shapes depend on the intended woodcarving.  For example, “hook” dimensions vary with the size of the spoon’s bowl or in making a ladle or coffee scoop.  Likewise, hook knives intended for carving figurines can have shallow hooks or deep hooks.  I’ve seen woodcarvers with as many as twenty hook knives in shapes and sizes to fit their many needs.  The knives pictured below are pretty standard though two of the hook knives have pointed tips and another hook has a flattened tip.  Novices will probably prefer the flattened tip hook knife but pros find the pointed tipped knives perhaps a bit more versatile.  Both crooked and hooked knives should be tempered between 58 and 63 Rockwell.  They are not intended for dry wood but nonetheless work better in that hardness range.

Handles can also vary with hook knives and even with crooked knives.  The traditional thumb perch in a crooked knife can be acute or moderate or even nonexistent to facilitate various handholding positions.  Native Americans used crooked knives in the palm up fashion.  I assume it has something to do with my wrist shape but I seldom use the palm upward handhold preferring a palm-downward handhold.  My wrists start aching when I employ the palm-up handhold, but I find no hindrance in using the knife palm-down.

Below are five more of my recent crooked knives and hook knives.  (Refer to my last post for additional photos of crooked and hook knives.)  These knives are fun to make though, as with any knife, caution must be taken to properly heat treat and temper the blades as well as obtain an exact chisel bevel.  A muffed bevel will make your knife difficult to use or perhaps even useless.  The exact angle varies in accordance to the application and likewise to the way you hold the knife.  It takes practice making knives and you’ll make dozens before you get it just right.  I was lucky to have grown up next to a blacksmith shop and thus learned the art of knife making as a kid.  I enjoy making knives as a hobby and occasionally sell one or give one away.  Here’s a note to those of you who might be thinking of making and selling knives.  Research the market carefully making extra note of liability and insurance costs.  A knife is a potentially dangerous tool and thus opens the maker and seller to certain legal issues.  Such is the litigious world we live in.  Some have suggested incorporation or LLC but I cannot address those issues and one should seek professional advice.  Risk/benefit criteria applies here and would-be knife-makers need to consider those realities. 

The above hook knife was made using a six-inch mill file and a piece of knifeleaf condalia.

The above crooked knife is a six inch mill file with a piece of mesquite root.  The root was lying out by a fence and had been there several months so the boring beetles had gotten to it.  I decided to use it anyway and filled the tiny holes with epoxy.

 Another crooked knife made from a six-inch mill file.  The wood is knifeleaf condalia.

 Hook knife above with a knifeleaf condalia handle and mill file blade.

 Hook knife above made from a mill file and piece of brasil wood.


  1. Very nice knives, I enjoyed the tour.

    You can't beat beauty and function!

    A couple of blog ideas for you:
    How to dry your spoon carvings without them cracking?
    How to mount your hook blades to the handle?

    I look forward to your future posts, thanks for putting them up and sharing, Doug.

  2. Ah yes, cracks and checks occurring when making spoons. I'll post something on that as well as another post on mounting hook blades to a handle.


  3. It's really an amazing knife with wonderful handle. I also like the handle and shape of this wooden knife.
    out of the front knife

    1. The crooked knife is one of my favorite knives. I seldom go a week without using one on various projects. In fact, I just got through making a couple of bows and used crooked knives in the process.