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Blog

Ash Logs and Crooked Knives

jarrod

Fall seems to be in full swing, and I've been up to lots of things the past few weeks.  Sometimes at this time of year with all that is going on in preparing for our long winter, it's hard to focus on just one thing or a group of things.  In my work, this time of year I'm making snowshoes, and toboggans, pounding ash logs for my wife April's basketry supply for the winter, among getting ready for a few Christmas shows, to sell our wares in, and preping and teaching classes into the winter.
I recently rebuildt my snow shoe jig and toboggan jig last week and bent a few snowshoe up, as well as a toboggan.  I find it hard to always keep the blog in mind, but I promise to try harder and snowshoes and toboggans will be another post hopefully soon.
Last week I forged 9 crooked knife blades for a class I taught this past weekend at the winter camping symposium. We had a good time making the knives and in my opinion 8 more properly designed crooked knives in the world is a good thing. I've been studying, making and using these tools for over 15 years and have very specific design guidelines.  One of which is that if the knife hurts you as you use it, it's not designed right. Historically all crooked knives were custom made, for the users own hand, body type, and woodworking style and intended use.  There are many examples of native woodworkers making 30-50 pair of snowshoes a winter in the 1930-50's, all with an axe and crooked knife. These fellas had tools that felt good to use. Check out this link mocotaugan the book, most of the knives you see are similar but different in relation to the thumb rest.....this is one of  the keys to a good crooked knife a properly place thumb rest. In the class I taught we made custom fit handles for everyone.
Hide(he-day) was visiting from Japan, here he is fitting his blade to the handle




A Knife glued up and drying




Donnie's knife turned out great






As for the Ash log part of this entry.....I've heard if a different technique that was used to pound ash splints for basketry. This techniques was used in the east, primarily by the MicMac.  I was first turned on to this by a woodworker acquaintance from England Sean Hellman, he found this video somehow and posted it on a the bodgers ask and answer forum. I then found more info here. The technique is to take the log and split in into smaller pieces, then take to shaving horse and shave into smaller square or rectangular stock and then pound the billet over a anvil. It works but it's a lot of work to get the material to the pounding stage.  The other method is to just peel the log and pound away....no prep and I think less wasteful. There's more info on the pounding process here at  our website. I had to try the technique, but I'd rather just get right to the pounding and not have to split it all down. So now that I know I'll be sticking to the whole log method, this Ash log will be made into chairs. (another blog post)
Ash tree




first wedge




Ash split so well




using a froe to "waste off a bit"




using a draw knife to shave down the stave or billet




pounding over a chunk of railroad track



it works...rings delaminating



black ash "splint"