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Mocotaugan Knife Handle

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Project by Brit posted 07-29-2020 09:50 PM 600 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently pruchased two Mocotaugan knife blades from Ben Orford, one with the traditional internal bevel which is used like a one-handed drawknife and one with an external bevel for hollowing out greenwood bowls. Of course Mocotaugan knife handles don’t have to be fancy. There is nothing wrong with making one from a crooked branch or a suitable piece of antler, but there is a tradition of some pretty fancy carving on some of the vintage handles found in museums and I thought I would try to uphold the tradition.

I’ve always admired the scrolls on violins and thought it would be fun to have a go at one, albeit on a much smaller scale. I had to draw it out from all angles a few times before I got my head around the shape. It is quite a complex shape when you start to analyse it. I worked out a process for doing it and once I got my confidence, it wasn’t too difficult.

As for the low relief pattern on the two sides, I basically doodled it on a piece of paper whilst on the phone one day and thought it would be fun to try to recreate it in wood. I drew the ribbons of wood, set in the edges and lowered the space between them by about 1mm. Then I used three different sized nail sets to punch in the background texture. I’m glad I practiced this first because it is harder than you think to hit a punch with the same amount of force time after time and if you vary the force, it just ends up looking like a dog’s dinner.

The handle is made to fit my hand (I’m left-handed) and basically you push with your thumb and pivot your wrist to remove small shavings from the inside of a bowl. This affords considerable leverage and requires less force than the more common fist grip used on hook knives.

The tang of the blade sits in a mortise and is held in place by a wedge which in turn is held in place by the binding. I used micro paracord for the binding which I think came out really well. Since two of the sides that the binding is wrapped around are curved, I had to lower the surfaces under the binding so that the paracord wouldn’t slip off as I wound it around the handle. I’ve still got to make the handle for the more traditional internal bevel knife blade, but I haven’t made my mind up what to do yet. One thing’s for sure though, it will be a totally different carving to this one.

Thanks for looking!

EDIT: Embedding this image from my Flickr feed as for some reason the photo loaded into LJs quite small. You can click on the image for an enlarged view if you like.

Mocotaugan Knife - External Bevel 1

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."





20 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19697 posts in 3415 days


#1 posted 07-29-2020 09:55 PM

Amazing work Andy.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

11998 posts in 3299 days


#2 posted 07-29-2020 10:08 PM

^yup, he’s right, just amazing. Well done Andy.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View duckmilk's profile

duckmilk

4331 posts in 2172 days


#3 posted 07-30-2020 12:12 AM

Second “yup” here Andy. Your carving skills keep surpassing each previous one. Very nice indeed!

I’ve still got to make the handle for the more traditional internal bevel knife blade, but I haven’t made my mind up what to do yet.

Dragon head or viper head??

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View 55woodbutcher's profile

55woodbutcher

62 posts in 674 days


#4 posted 07-30-2020 01:26 AM

Great job! Always glad to see thinking outside the box.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days


#5 posted 07-30-2020 02:26 AM

Amazing carving indeed, and it looks like an interesting crooked knife solution.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrWolfe's profile

MrWolfe

1055 posts in 971 days


#6 posted 07-30-2020 02:51 AM

Fine fine work and the scale and shape of the handle to hand looks very ergonomic.
Best of all worlds, fine design, fine function and looks to be a joy to use.
WELL Done!!!
Jon

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6241 posts in 1422 days


#7 posted 07-30-2020 05:32 AM

Interesting knife. Very nice looking work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Brit's profile

Brit

8168 posts in 3690 days


#8 posted 07-30-2020 07:23 AM

Thanks everyone. I appreciate it.

Duck – A dragon is one of the options I’m considering. The advantage of a dragon is that it is a mythical creature and I wouldn’t have to be anatomically correct. Nobody could say it didn’t look like a dragon because nobody knows what one looks like. LOL. Other options I’m considering are a horse’s head or maybe a New Forest Pony’s head since I live on the edge of the New Forest National Park. Also, a golden eagle’s head.

My original thought for these knife handles was a big horn sheep. The first time I visited the Valley of Fire and finished hooking up the RV, I sat down in the shade to drink a cold one.

I glanced up at one of the rock formations around me and right at the top was a big horn sheep. He looked at me and I looked at him and we shared a moment

They were also an important source of food for the native American Indians, so would have been a good subject for a Mocotaugan knife handle. The reason I didn’t use it in the end was because I felt the horns would be a bit fragile on a carving of this size.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1116 posts in 3160 days


#9 posted 07-30-2020 11:10 AM

Superb piece of carving Andy. Great picture of the ram. Are those paintings on the rocks or just shadows?
Jim

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Boatman53's profile

Boatman53

1065 posts in 3044 days


#10 posted 07-30-2020 11:29 AM

Nice work Andy. I am a fan of the crooked knife.
Jim

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine Ancorayachtservice.com home of the chain leg vise

View Brit's profile

Brit

8168 posts in 3690 days


#11 posted 07-30-2020 12:27 PM

Jim Rowe – I don’t think they are paintings or shadows Jim. They are just variations in the colour of the red Aztec sandstone as it is known. There are some old rock paintings in the area though, but they don’t look like that.

Boatman53 – Thanks Jim.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

5794 posts in 2235 days


#12 posted 07-30-2020 01:39 PM

Very cool. It is fitting that a carving knife has a cool carving.

BTW, I think that the black on the rock may be what is called rock varnish. IIRC, rock varnish forms in the presence of water and life so it is one of the things they are looking for with the Mars rovers. Thus ends the science lesson for the day. :-)

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

10157 posts in 3288 days


#13 posted 07-30-2020 01:49 PM

Stunning.

You’re a fantastic artist Andy. Thank you for taking the time to share your work, always great to read about your process.

Desert varnish is a dark coating on rocks found in arid regions. The coating is composed dominantly of fine-grained clay minerals. Within the clays are black manganese oxide and red iron oxide. A more general term is rock varnish which applies to dark coatings on rocks in general. Desert varnish is dominantly clay. The clay minerals represent the clays found locally in the region where the varnish develops. In the clay layer, black manganese oxide (the mineral birnesite) and red iron oxide (the mineral hematite) add color.
~per CalTech: http://minerals.gps.caltech.edu/FILES/VARNISH/Index.html

-- ~Tony

View Brit's profile

Brit

8168 posts in 3690 days


#14 posted 07-30-2020 01:56 PM

Two science lessons. Thanks chaps, always learning.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

5794 posts in 2235 days


#15 posted 07-30-2020 01:57 PM

Ok, one more lesson, LOL …Here is a reference that talks about the suspected role that bacteria plays in forming the varnish. It was often used by ancients as a durable media for rock art.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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