This photo shows all of the blades we currently sell including the newer BH-1, BH-2 & BH-3 blades. The blades still all sell for $48.00 and made up knives $75.00. I currently favor the BH-1 or BH-2 blades in place of the B-1 blade for the NWC carving kits. Call me if you are confused.
Our crooked knives
The Kestrel knife is a refined version of the traditional crooked knife, using tool steels hardened and tempered to close tolerance. You don't have to work in the Northwest coast style to appreciate a fine crooked knife. At home in hard or soft woods, they are especially useful for hollowing. Treen makers love them, and they are unexcelled in sculpture. Both convex and concave surfaces can be carved with ease. End grain is no more a trick than cross grain. The knife is a dream for fitting two curved surfaces; boat builders, luthiers, and cabinet makers who lean toward the flowing line also make ready use of these tools.
A major advantage of the crooked knife is economy. The double edge cuts with a draw or a push stroke. The bent shape allows access to areas in a wide variety of configurations. There is probably no more versatile wood carving tool. By turning the knife in your hand and using different areas on the blade, the work of many conventional tools can be accomplished. The crooked knife is one of the most useful tools the average carver can own, the other being a good straight knife. In the European tradition, a craftsman might own 100 or more carving tools. Northwest coast aboriginals did work at least as inspired and clearly as competent with a half dozen tools.
Our crooked knives come with a fully-honed razor edge which will give several hours of carving before needing maintenance. These tools are sharpened on the inside of the bend using slip stones. Each knife comes with a comprehensive explanation of use and sharpening which will enable the average woodworker to maintain the keen edge that makes such magic of wood removal. We sell a variety of stones for sharpening in the Sharpening section.
Like all crooked knives, these tools are usually held with the palm up. In this position the wrist has its maximum motion and power. The knife's hardwood haft is formed to give a powerful grip and perfect control. The haft's unique curved shape allows the carver's knuckles to stay out of the way.
Blades are honed and heat treated and come with rivets, guard, and sharpening and hafting instructions. Completed knives come with guard and instructions.
Choosing the right tool
We offer these knives in several sizes. Your selection will depend on the size of the work you will do with the tool. The smaller sizes are gems for all types of small work plus detailing and refining of larger work. These tools are also ideal for carvers with smaller hands and/or less powerful wrists. The full size knives are used for mask and bowl carving and for roughing and hollowing tasks.
There are two basic forms that these knives may take: crooked and not-so-crooked. The crooked blades have a recurving tip that turns up about 90°. The standard bends (C and 3 in the drawing below) are the most versatile of the crooked knives. These blades are bent in an ever-increasing radius of curvature, like a French curve, so that almost any radius can be carved with them. For sculpture and recessed work, the C bend is the most generally useful we sell. The #3 bend is good for all kinds of uses from shaping and hollowing smaller work to the curves and radii around the nose, eye and mouth in sculpture. It is also the tool for a knife-cut kerf in box making. The not-so-crooked knives haven't a straight place on them. Use them for detailing and where the recurved tip on the other knives would interfere with the work. They are great planing tools and they will work in areas of very little room. The most popular not-so-crooked is the #1 bend.
When carvers inquire about which knives to buy, we usually recommend our full size standard (C-C) bend first, the 3/4 not-so-crooked (C-1) second and the C-E knife, an excellent blade for hollowing, third. Carvers doing mainly small work will want to start with the 3/4 standard bend (C-3) and the 5/8 not-so-crooked (C-5). Refer to the table for prices.
Here are the profiles of the blades we make. Buy a blade and assemble your own knife or choose a ready-to-carve tool. These blades have nice flowing lines without hard spots. All "standard" blades are flat on their bottom or left side, beveled edge to right. The X series have their bevels to the left. The bends shown are approximate.
Note: The E blade is relatively straight up to the bend area. To make the blade more functional throughout its length, it exits the haft with a slight bend. For the purposes of the drawings, this approximate 3 degree bend is not shown. Also, the #4 blade has been discontinued.
The micro blades (8,9 and 10) are sweet little flakes of steel for "surgical" wood removal. These are difficult blades to make. Keep razor sharp and cut, do not pry! These blades are perfect for 2-D work in cedar.
Reverse-bevel Crooked Knives
Years ago we made some reverse-bevel knives for Rick Beasley, a fine artist of Tlingit heritage. I made a reverse knife for myself at the same time but never quite gave it a chance until Steve Brown came to help on the shop frontal pole and started singing the praises of his reverse-bevel knife. I brought out my old reverse-bevel no-so-crooked knife and tried it out. I don't know how I could have gotten by without it, especially carving the background areas on this pole. I have hardly used my standard bevel A-bend knife since. Reversing the bevel gives in essence a narrower blade, which can improve performance by making tighter radii without chatter. The angle of the knife's approach is at a tilt of about 15° off flat. This means it is better at reaching into tight spaces. For backgrounding on a pole, the A/X B/X not-so-crookeds are superb. In spite of all this praise, I do not recommend you complicate your life unnecessarily. These tools are more difficult to control than the standard tools. Most carvers still use inside bevel tools for 90% of their carving. Try a reverse bevel, experiment before buying the lot. These blades are harder to make, so the price is slightly higher.
When you first get your crooked knife, you may want to mark the blade number on the underside of the haft with a wood burner. This will identify the knife without having to remove the hose guard. Add an owner's mark as well.