Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Crooked Knife, or Mocotaugan.

"Captain John Gyles, writing of his captivity about 1696 by the Maliseet Indians in Maine, observed that the crooked knife was part of every man’s equipment". http://www.mocotauganthebook.com/nature.html.

The crooked knife is a one handed drawknife, and the term "crooked" referes as far as I understand it to the handle, not the blade. Because I have images of crooked knives with straight blades. The crooked knife is used to make many objects, from canoes and canoe paddles to wooden spoons. The unique shape of the handle enables the user to assert a lot of power safely but just flexing the wrist.
I just made a crooked knife this morning out of the blade from a hoof scraper which I had to heat and reshape and then harden again, and a piece of wood cut from some dead pussy willow. I carved out the recess for the blade after final reshaping of the handle. The blade I secured to the handle with two brass screws. Then I bound the whole with wet rawhide and let it dry. Wet rawhide is flexible and stretches a little. When it dries it shrinks and hardens.

Crooked Knife 1720-1800.


Murphyfish said...

Hi Le Loup,
Now there’s a coincidence,I was watching Ray Mears last week in his latest series on the early explorations of Canada using a very similar item to carve out a wooden spoon. It would seem that these knives were used considerably in Canada and North America by the early trappers. I might well have a go at following your example and try to reproduce one.


grimbo said...

have you a sheath for it made?

Le Loup said...

Hi John. Yes I read the same thing, seems this tool was very popular with those who lived and travelled in the backwoods.

Hi Grimbo. I am using a sheath that a late friend used to use for his awl. The crooked knife is by its shape difficult to make a shaped sheath for, but the cone shaped leather sheath I use seems a pretty good fit.