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All-Wood Sheaths?


Aiden CC

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I've been wanting to make another leuku for a while and will probably do a semi-reproduction of this one:

sheath_4.png

 

It seems like pretty much all of the leukus from the collection this one is in have a sheath with either the entire inner portion made of wood covered partially or entirely with leather, or a lower portion made from two pieces of antler riveted together. I will probably opt for the former to keep the cost of materials from getting too high. When I dug a little further, I noticed that the wooden sheaths tend to be made in a rather peculiar way: it looks like instead of splitting the block of wood, a cavity is carved out from one side and a leather wrap keeps it together at the top, like in the images below. Sheaths of some Yakutian knives also appear to be made in a similar way.

 

sheath_3.pngsheath_1.jpgsheath_2.jpg

 

I want to try this and was wondering if anyone has done something like this, because I'm somewhat at a loss for how to do it. It doesn't look like the wood is split and glued back together, and maybe the channel is roughed out with a saw? It also seems like there could be some heat-bending involved?  I also have never made a wooden sheath and would be glad for any insight on how its supposed to fit (seems harder to get he right amount of "grip" on the handle, maybe that's part of the reasoning of having the back open like that) or any suggestions from someone who has made.

 

Thanks!

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First off, I do not think that is wood in the last 3 pics. I think it's antler.

@Adam Weller might have some insight. 

I think you may be right about cutting a groove down one edge and hollowing out the inside. I would think it was done with more of a chisel than a saw.  More like the way carving is done. 

Run a shallow groove down the edge with a sharp skew chisel, widen it out a little bit at a time until you can get a wider blade in there to shave more off.

Eventually, you will get into the pith of the antler and can use a hooked scraper to clean out the inside. Just guesses really.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

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I’ve made several wooden sheaths, but never with a groove down one side, only in the split and rivet  (glue) method. 

 

This construction with the groove down the side is definitely interesting. I would worry about the knife coming out, that is putting a lot of trust in the leather to not let the blade torque out the side. That being said this leather (if half tan - like traditionally used in this kind of construction) is very hard when it dries and it should keep the blade in the sheath. 

 

The other part about this is when the leather dries it shrinks and that is what holds it to the wood/antler portion. I would worry about the leather collapsing the groove (obviously in the picture it did not). This make me think to agree with Josh that this is antler and not wood. It does seem to get pithy toward the inside and weathered reindeer antler can get this brown color. Here is a piece I have laying around:

 

CB6FBD53-7486-42EE-9F25-B2DD104A0E10.jpeg

 

The way it is decorated in the last picture also makes me think it is antler, though you can chip carve wood too.

 

In regards to your question of how much the wood “grips” the knife in the half wood/half leather sheaths I have made, the wood portion does not grip the knife at all, the leather holds the knife in place. You have to make the leather go just above the widest portion of the handle in order to get it to make that satisfying “click” when you put it in the sheath.

 

The examples of full wood or antler sheaths (no leather) I have seen rely on a spring type release mechanism, where the sheath is carved too small and long cuts are made to allow it to spring open and click in place when the knife is inserted. I haven’t tried this technique, so I don’t know to much about it other than what I’ve seen in pictures. It is definitely on my list to do some day.

 

 

 

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I'm not sure if I'm convinced that the material is antler. There are a number of examples, and the color fairly uniformly is brown, notably in the second example below which also has antler of presumably a similar age in the handle. The last image below also has what looks like wood grain showing down the center. I think I've put it in a thread somewhere else, these images are from the Swedish Digital Museum (https://digitaltmuseum.se/search/?aq=topic%3A"Lapska föremål %3A Personlig utrustning %3A Knivar"&o=0&n=416). Definitely a case where I really wish I could see these things in person to know for sure.

sheath_5.pngsheath_6.pngsheath_7.png

 

4 hours ago, Joshua States said:

I think you may be right about cutting a groove down one edge and hollowing out the inside. I would think it was done with more of a chisel than a saw.  More like the way carving is done. 

Run a shallow groove down the edge with a sharp skew chisel, widen it out a little bit at a time until you can get a wider blade in there to shave more off.

Eventually, you will get into the pith of the antler and can use a hooked scraper to clean out the inside. Just guesses really.

A chisel could save a lot of work here. It would probably be well worth the effort to make some kind of custom tool for this (like a piece of flat made into a very thick but narrow chisel).

 

3 hours ago, Adam Weller said:

I’ve made several wooden sheaths, but never with a groove down one side, only in the split and rivet  (glue) method. 

 

This construction with the groove down the side is definitely interesting. I would worry about the knife coming out, that is putting a lot of trust in the leather to not let the blade torque out the side. That being said this leather (if half tan - like traditionally used in this kind of construction) is very hard when it dries and it should keep the blade in the sheath. 

 

The other part about this is when the leather dries it shrinks and that is what holds it to the wood/antler portion. I would worry about the leather collapsing the groove (obviously in the picture it did not).

I can see what you mean about trusting the leather. It seems like if the mouth is "undercut" enough the liner would also help to retain the handle. It seems like leaving the knife in the sheath while the leather dries could provide some resistance to crushing/letting the sheath get too tight. I've found that with sheaths with an upper leather part and lower antler/wood part that you can control how tight the fit is by how long you leave the knife in the sheath while it dries.

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8 hours ago, Aiden CC said:

I'm not sure if I'm convinced that the material is antler

 

Me either, and I would love to see these in person.

Of the pictures you just posted I’m almost 100% sure the first sheath is antler. It even has the engraving (see the round decorations in the sheath “fuller”) that is typical for antler, wood doesn’t give you that scrimshaw look and does not hold that kind of detail when subjected to the abuse these knives have experienced. I think the second picture could be wood or antler, I see what you are saying in that the antler incorporated into the handle is much different than the sheath, but they are prepared in a different way and every time you use the knife you are to some extent rubbing/polishing the handle which wears off that natural brown patina.

 I think the third picture could be either or.

 

In your first post I think the 2nd and 3rd pictures are antler, it just has the right shape and grain to me. You naturally get that oval opening when you clean out the marrow from the intramedullary canal. And I can see the margin between the hard cortex and inner marrow (dark brown versus light brown right around the opening). Here’s a pic from my recent antler sheath which shows the same shape and gradient from dense cortex to the more pithy marrow:

 

6F0AFD0A-499E-4784-B860-1C5F078156A8.jpeg

 

Ever since you posted a link to that gallery of knives I think I have probably visited it a thousand times. Some amazing examples to be sure.

 

Since all this is so subjective I’ll get back to your original question which was how to make the groove (with the caveat that I haven’t done it, but this is how I would approach it). If you are making it out of wood I think this would be relatively easy and straight forward with some kind of saw and a series of thin chisels.

 

To make that groove out of antler would be much harder. Using modern techniques I would start with a rotary tool and get through the antler cortex and then move to a chisel or even something like a handle broach (like the ones we use to seat a tang in a handle). As you got deeper you could make a more knife edge type broach that would allow you to taper to the shape of the blade... If using more traditional techniques that first cut through the antler is going to be a pain, and I would start with a saw or maybe even a large graver type tool?

 

in regards to the leather upper. I see most makers wrap the handle in a thin material like plastic wrap or aluminum foil (I’ve even seen one guy use toilet paper) to provide room so the knife can be removed. I had good luck with wrapping it like this for the first 24 hours, then removing the layer and letting it shrink a bit more around the handle to give it a nice tight fit... This takes some attention as I have had to cut the leather off one knife as it became impossible to remove the knife it was held so tight.

 

Hope that gives you something to think about, and you better post pictures as you build this :)

 

 

Edited by Adam Weller
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Aiden,Adam,Josh,if i may point this out,you may want to broaden your search further East-ward,for the Finno-Ugric traditions extend in that direction quite far(MOST unfortunately running into territory of Mordor...:(...as you may already noticed i hate putinist regime with a passion,and so won't post any links to any resources associated with them...).

 

I'm really short on time right now,so just a couple quick photos from a modern maker...(as far as the cultural appropriation goes i'm still confused and undecided on much of this,but it's definitely an issue with some of this-not regarding you guys but some of the stuff i may post).

 

I'd keep two things in mind whenn thinking of wooden sheathes from those regions:

1.It's cold there,And,knives are used for butchering.That means that the sheaf must have Lots of room inside for the blade(if you've never cut up a critter in sub-zero temps,these's Lost of blood/fat/et c. on the blade when you're done).

So the knife must fit,to begin with,and later at some point the recess must be accessed for cleaning...(as well as drainage in summer,and getting

rid of whatever may fall in et c.).

 

2.Most knives of those circumpolar regions were very narrow(often a leuku-type knife was supplemented with an uber narrow one on the same user's belt).Those people did lots of Boring with their knives in general.

Special cutters were used in carving these few shown(right and left single-bevel ones help),but many older traditional ones were bored out with a narrow blade.

(Sakha knives-ditto.LOTS of boring,lots of systems required lashing...).

 

So in general-decidedly yes,tons of wooden,one-piece sheathes,of whatever style...

 

komi1.jpg

komi2.jpg

komi3.jpg

komi4.jpg

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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P.S.

 

Here's an older,authentic knife belonging to a Komi deer herder.Very typical narrow one,most looked like that.

(vs the pretty ones above made for sale,and  by an interloper)

 

And forgot to mention that the room inside must be sufficient for even a very greasy/bloody knife to not become welded in after insertion,at the temps that those people operate,it's an issue...

komi5.jpg

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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P.P.S.

 

Quick note:That type of sheath is based primarily on being made using the knife that goes with it(makes sense).

 

That half-moon recess is to allow the tip of that knife to make all the cross-grain cuts necessary for seating the "bolster".The rest-the slot-is carved as one would imagine;possible contrariness of grain and such offset by the fact that many of these knives were single-bevel.

 

In fairness both to this forum as well as the author of knives above the maker's name is Nikolay Zolotarev.

Here's a video by some knife-fancier that gives Nikolay a chance to show some of his carving techniques later in the video:

 

(i know that my loathing of All things coming out of Mordor is bordering on pathological,but i Do have quite solid reasons for it.They're in vast majority absolute b...ds to ecology in general and the native people in particular,and i'd not trust any information from any of such sources.But this particular maker i know nothing about and for all i know we may be of the same opinion in regards to all this with him).

 

Anyway,the cultural affiliation there,going East of Finland are a number of Finno-Ugric people,and yet further it gets to the Tungus group of languages,and people such as Nenets,Even,Evenk,et c.

Many of their knifes and sheathes et c. share attributes and details and technologies,due to similarity in climate,geography,and occupations....  

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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Thanks everyone for the insight and examples! I think I'll probably go ahead with the wood version of the sheath, I should have some time in the next few weeks. I'll definitely make a thread about it.

 

On 3/5/2020 at 11:11 AM, Adam Weller said:

In your first post I think the 2nd and 3rd pictures are antler, it just has the right shape and grain to me. You naturally get that oval opening when you clean out the marrow from the intramedullary canal. And I can see the margin between the hard cortex and inner marrow (dark brown versus light brown right around the opening). Here’s a pic from my recent antler sheath which shows the same shape and gradient from dense cortex to the more pithy marrow:

I can see what you mean about the different layers in the picture I posted, I haven't worked with a ton of antler. It seems like the knives I gravitate towards are the ones that are difficult to learn about/see in person, which definitely makes stuff like this difficult.

 

On 3/5/2020 at 12:25 PM, jake pogrebinsky said:

Aiden,Adam,Josh,if i may point this out,you may want to broaden your search further East-ward,for the Finno-Ugric traditions extend in that direction quite far(MOST unfortunately running into territory of Mordor...:(...as you may already noticed i hate putinist regime with a passion,and so won't post any links to any resources associated with them...).

 

I'm really short on time right now,so just a couple quick photos from a modern maker...(as far as the cultural appropriation goes i'm still confused and undecided on much of this,but it's definitely an issue with some of this-not regarding you guys but some of the stuff i may post).

 

I'd keep two things in mind whenn thinking of wooden sheathes from those regions:

1.It's cold there,And,knives are used for butchering.That means that the sheaf must have Lots of room inside for the blade(if you've never cut up a critter in sub-zero temps,these's Lost of blood/fat/et c. on the blade when you're done).

So the knife must fit,to begin with,and later at some point the recess must be accessed for cleaning...(as well as drainage in summer,and getting

rid of whatever may fall in et c.).

 

2.Most knives of those circumpolar regions were very narrow(often a leuku-type knife was supplemented with an uber narrow one on the same user's belt).Those people did lots of Boring with their knives in general.

Special cutters were used in carving these few shown(right and left single-bevel ones help),but many older traditional ones were bored out with a narrow blade.

(Sakha knives-ditto.LOTS of boring,lots of systems required lashing...).

 

So in general-decidedly yes,tons of wooden,one-piece sheathes,of whatever style...

I thought I had seem something like this in sheaths/sheath liners from knives further East. Those points definitely make sense. I can also see the recess being cut from one side giving the sheath more flexibility so it can effectively grip the knife handle. I also want to try making some narrow knives, and almost have in the past, but the time I have for making knives is fairly limited now unfortunately (a big part of the reason why I end up mostly doing research).

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Ok, so I may have fallen down another rabbit hole...

1.jpg2.jpg

 

 

On 3/5/2020 at 12:30 PM, jake pogrebinsky said:

P.S.

 

Here's an older,authentic knife belonging to a Komi deer herder.Very typical narrow one,most looked like that.

(vs the pretty ones above made for sale,and  by an interloper)

 

And forgot to mention that the room inside must be sufficient for even a very greasy/bloody knife to not become welded in after insertion,at the temps that those people operate,it's an issue...

komi5.jpg

It seems like with many old/geographically specific styles of knives the modern re-designs are much easier to find than originals. When researching Sakha knives, it seemed to me like most people are making copies of copies. In this case, it seems like the style is even less documented. Do you know if these knives are typically ground asymmetrically? In some of the images I've found it seems like that may be the case, though the ones above all look "left handed," at least compared to Sakha knives, with the bevel angle being lower or zero on the left side. I'm not sure the original source of the images I found, though maybe at some point I'll do a reverse image search and try to find it. It seems common for a set of a few images to get taken from the original source and posted in a dozen places without all of the original context. 

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Yes,Aiden,you're spot on on All of the above.

 

Those look like the originals(often sold to tourists or gifted).

They seem to've come from same or close-by places;by general looks i'd say Komi...(you may also look up Zyryane).

These are Ugric people like the Saami,but going even further east to where it gradually changes to Tungus language group people(Nanai,Nenetz,Even et c.).All those cultural traditions seem to have similarities based on climate and nature of their lifestyles,and their knives often look remarkably similar.

 

You're absolutely right about "copies of copies".Worse than that,the attitude of Russian Empire toward the "lesser"(!),or officially "less-numerous",has been historically demeaning and deliberately degrading.

Were you a russian speaker you'll often read how "these people were lousy and starving and had nothing,and ALL their "cultural" traditions stem from what the great and benevolent russians hve given them".

It's not just Cultural Appropriation,but cultural genocide,unapologetic,and in fact boastful.

Thus all those butt-ugly "Yakut" knives spreading from russian makers out to the West....

 

And yes,similar to a number of Japanese traditions many of these designs were asymmetric;there seems to be some practical,utilitarian reasons for that.

Right or left is/can be a function of how aggressively you want your blade to sink into material.When i use a draw knife i often swap it about,depending on the grain,so it's not surprising giving,Again,the nature of what these people work AT.

(a good sample of the work is the deer sled,check some of those joints/surfaces out,it's an integral part of the blade design,being it's intended purpose).

 

You're doing great,man,research is probably more than half the battle.Coupled with your good sense,and your obviously good aesthetic sense,you'll produce great work.You're on the right path(-s).

 

And yes,Mordor is flauntingly not a respecter of copyright,so in tracking images you never know where you may end up at....

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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Found the source of those photos you posted.Seems like the guy took them himself,and actually knows what he's talking about(and yes,those are also Komi).

Says that they're using bearing races and files,and what looks like a fuller is remains of groove on ball-bearing race:

 

komi7.jpg

 

komi6.jpg

 

One made out of a file:

 

komi8.jpg

 

komi9.jpg

 

Sheaf carved with the knife  meant for it.(cracked and repaired with leather thong):

 

komi10.jpg

 

(what we're looking at is the last shadows of traditions almost obliterated completely,so it's up to you,Aiden,to interpret it...)

 

Also,on Ugric people,you may do a search on " Hunty" and "Mansi"....And on Tungus,"Nganasan"...

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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That's great,Alan,i knew you'd dig this!:)

 

Ok,i went and dug up a bit of systematized data so i don't say anything Too stupid(many of you guys know me a long time,and so know that a scientist i'm not;barely literate,here,so please take Everything i may say with a grain of salt,i'm only sketching things in if you will...).

 

Here is the very general cultural affiliation that we speak of here.The names of these groups can serve for search projects,and in and of themselves kinda let one know whereabouts they are:

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugric_languages

hide
Finnic
Sámi
 
Eastern Sámi
Western Sámi
 
Mordvinic
Mari
Permic
Ugric
Samoyedic
Others

 

 

 

 

 

Drat it,i already screwed up copying this chart,let me start another message...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(sorry about that huge acreage above,Alan,i'll try to be more careful)

 

Well,many of you here are very interested in designs and artefacts from the Migration era,and the yet later viking Age.

 

But we must remember that those cultures were  the inheritors of earlier ones,and these ones,dealing with these language groups,were their most recent antecedents.

 

Speaking VERY roughly,these cultures dwelled East of the Ural range(that divide between Asia and Europe),and at some point have crossed it going West,and some of them(mostly the ones that headed far to the North,and so survived in an often  more distinct manner)is who we're talking about here.

 

These cultures are almost unimaginably old.Their material culture dates back to whatever it is we mean when we say "Scythians",and with it things like a very complex wagon-wheel,metalworking of All sorts,ferrous and non-,and the absolutely gorgeous sculpted designs some of which are known as the Animal Style(-s).

 

what mostly concerns us here is the Permian Animal Style,but from this link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_style  you'll learn of how it all connects to the early Gemanic ones and eventually probably to Urnes et c.).

 

I'm more or less throwing things just out there...But,it was always fascinating for me how these people,whom we generally associate with reindeer herding,living a nomadic life in tents,dressing in animal skins and the like,were also Very skilled at casting bronze,forging steel blades,and on and on...There's this natural dychotomy here that is not exactly well studied...First a few centuries of russian domination did a job on these people(they tried to exterminate the russians at one time but failed crashingly(unfortunately,i say:).Eventually the 100+ years of Soviet+Mordor rule have effectively if not entirely wiped out the historical record,but severely retarded it for sure.

 

So these same people who's wooden sheathes and knife handles we're looking at,at least in a not-too-distant past were casting knife handles out of bronze...Such as this one(Mansy,neighboring people to Komi):

 

mansy1.jpg

 

  

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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Looking at the photos I've seen, I came up with a rough drawing to make one of these. The examples I've seen tend to have handles made from straight grained wood or antler, but I have some birch root burl which I think is done drying I might use. It's a pretty common material for a lot of knives from similar styles (Sami and Sakha), so it seems entirely possible there are  examples that use it.

drawing.JPG

 

Also a speculation as to the direction of asymmetry: if the knives are used for a lot of boring, having a flat left side and beveled right side gives the edge of the knife a bit less negative rake when twisting the direction more comfortable for right handed people. Probably a pretty marginal difference, and I don't really have the bandwidth to test it, but maybe it's part of the reason? 

 

On 3/7/2020 at 4:58 PM, jake pogrebinsky said:

I'm more or less throwing things just out there...But,it was always fascinating for me how these people,whom we generally associate with reindeer herding,living a nomadic life in tents,dressing in animal skins and the like,were also Very skilled at casting bronze,forging steel blades,and on and on...There's this natural dychotomy here that is not exactly well studied...First a few centuries of russian domination did a job on these people(they tried to exterminate the russians at one time but failed crashingly(unfortunately,i say:).Eventually the 100+ years of Soviet+Mordor rule have effectively if not entirely wiped out the historical record,but severely retarded it for sure. 

Yeah, it seems like a being sedentary is often considered a prerequisite for metalworking, but there definitely seem to be have been nomadic metal-workers. These knives also seem to represent a consolidation of tools (a butcher's knife and a small hatchet for leukus and a small knife/drill for the narrow asymmetric knives) which may arise from preferring to carry one general tool instead of two specialized ones. There are definitely other reasons (like vegetation in the far north being smaller and not always requiring a full axe), but it seems likely to me to be part of the reasoning.

Edited by Aiden CC
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Aiden,i like your sketch,very much.There are many advantages to having such ample handle,i've used chisels handled similarly and it was surprisingly comfortable.(Even leaving alone the cold weather/mittened hand use).

14 minutes ago, Aiden CC said:

The examples I've seen tend to have handles made from straight grained wood or antler, but I have some birch root burl which I think is done drying I might use. It's a pretty common material for a lot of knives from similar styles (Sami and Sakha), so it seems entirely possible there are  examples that use it.

 

Here is some historic precedent for use of burl(illustration from soviet-era archaeology,so no telling what/where/when,but roughly 17th-18th c.c.):

 

pomor1.jpg

 

Birch burl is very much in vogue all around the Asian circumpolar North.

There're two "types",general forms for such.

One,literally a burl,has a convolution of more or less normal grain inside,all tangled though.It can be very large,(or not),but what characterises it is the smooth outer bark.

Cross-section of it has this "chatoyance" effect,as the convoluted grain is transected by straight cuts.

 

But there's the second kind,that is black and very rough on the outside,but most distinct are these bunches of tiny twigs sprouting from often many locations on it's outside;it looks like a wart with hairs coming out of it.

That kind rarely gets very big,but it's highly sought after as it has  rich birds-eye patterns inside(whence them sprouts/sprigs spring from).

It looks very close to Karelian("Mansur")birch,sometimes very hard to tell those apart.

 

So yes,bot were used commonly.Many oroginal knives  that we're looking at come from improverished,stressed people,and going into the woods to look for traditional,or even decent,or otherwise "right" material is often not an option.

You will see many of such modern knives that herders use handled with plastic,melted on,or the blade cemented in it...  

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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12 minutes ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Aiden,i like your sketch,very much.There are many advantages to having such ample handle,i've used chisels handled similarly and it was surprisingly comfortable.(Even leaving alone the cold weather/mittened hand use).

 

Here is some historic precedent for use of burl(illustration from soviet-era archaeology,so no telling what/where/when,but roughly 17th-18th c.c.):

 

pomor1.jpg

 

Birch burl is very much in vogue all around the Asian circumpolar North.

There're two "types",general forms for such.

One,literally a burl,has a convolution of more or less normal grain inside,all tangled though.It can be very large,(or not),but what characterises it is the smooth outer bark.

Cross-section of it has this "chatoyance" effect,as the convoluted grain is transected by straight cuts.

 

But there's the second kind,that is black and very rough on the outside,but most distinct are these bunches of tiny twigs sprouting from often many locations on it's outside;it looks like a wart with hairs coming out of it.

That kind rarely gets very big,but it's highly sought after as it has  rich birds-eye patterns inside(whence them sprouts/sprigs spring from).

It looks very close to Karelian("Mansur")birch,sometimes very hard to tell those apart.

 

So yes,bot were used commonly.Many oroginal knives  that we're looking at come from improverished,stressed people,and going into the woods to look for traditional,or even decent,or otherwise "right" material is often not an option.

You will see many of such modern knives that herders use handled with plastic,melted on,or the blade cemented in it...  

Am I correct that there are different words for the two different kinds of burl in Russian (something like "suvel" for the smooth one and "kap" for the spiky one)?  I managed to track some down for sale, and also have been lucky enough to find a dead birch tree with a large burl of the second kind at the roots (though unlucky in that half of it is riddled with beetle holes).

 

It seems like on a lot of modern replicas, like the ones by Nikolay above, use curly/Karelian birch instead of burl. My personal theory is that "back in the day" when people had access to large plots of forest but not international trade it was way easier to find a burl which may be rare but is more or less evenly distributed wherever there are birch trees, than to get a piece of wood from Karelia (unless you lived there of course). Now its much easier to get curly birch as it can be grown and harvested consistently in the small part of Northern Europe where it grows and then shipped all over the place.  

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Yes,you're probably right.

Scientific name: Betula pendula var. carelica
Rank: Variety
 
I have no idea what the spread of this variation of Silver birch is,but i'd bet that of the knives is much larger.
 
I remembered i've actually got some burl last fall...Just took a couple photos,let's see...

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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So,on this first photo only that darker on on the left is of that second,birdseye variety...(and it doesn't look quite dark enough on outside,not as i should,or normally does...but you can see how smooth-skinned the other are by comparison).

 

2025.jpg

 

 

I did a very rough,shainsaw cut on inside of it...plus,it got all moldy being put away for the winter...I tried to use a Shureform to scrub it a bit,maybe you can just barely make out some interesting structure,and a few bird's-eyes...

 

2031.jpg

 

 

What really helps in seasoning these is to boil them for an hour or two,then skin them(boiling will make it easy);then boil for about 4 more hours in stiff salt solution...They check much less in drying,and dry faster,and are more stable over the long run then...

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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https://www.britannica.com/place/Mari-El

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mari_Native_Religion

 

These are some of the very important people of this region.

(They occupy the headwaters of Volga,the river that the vikings followed inland and south,to it's Caspian sea estuary,on their way to Black sea and Constantinopole;doubtless the interaction left imprint on both sides).

Here their metalworking past is more overtly felt,look at the log architecture,and their agrarian lifestyle in general,these were tool-makers and users from Way back...

 

They're undergoing quiet but intense persecution by the russians,their culture,religion(animism),indeed the very ecology of the region is in dire straits...:(

(from the link above):

Subject to persecution in the Soviet Union, the faith has been granted official status since the 1990s by the government of Mari El, where it is recognized as one of the three traditional faiths along with Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Some activists claim that the Mari native religion believers are subject to pressure by Russian authorities as part of a wider campaign to Russify Mari culture. Vitaly Tanakov, an adherent of the faith, was charged with inciting religious, national, social and linguistic hatred after publishing the book The Priest Speaks.[2] 

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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On the subject of the real  Sakha knives,it reall helps to fimiliarize oneself with work by Vladimir Jochelson.

(bio:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Jochelson)

 

One of his very important books on material culture of Sakha in PDF:http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/handle/2246/138

 

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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21 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

On the subject of the real  Sakha knives,it reall helps to fimiliarize oneself with work by Vladimir Jochelson.

(bio:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Jochelson)

 

One of his very important books on material culture of Sakha in PDF:http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/handle/2246/138

 

I'll have to give some of that a read. Scrolling through it, I think at least one of the drawings looks familiar. A little while ago I managed to trace back copy-pasted text/images to this article (http://ilin-yakutsk.narod.ru/2002-1/56.htm) which seems fairly academic and has a list of sources as well. Definitely leaves some details out that would be helpful to a knifemaker, but it seems like that's often the case in pieces by historians/ethnographers/archaeologists. 

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