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Ulu Question


Aiden CC

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I’ve recently been away from from shop, but have found a place where I can do some wood working and hand-tool work with metal. I’ve wanted to try making an ulu for a while and this seemed like a good time. Here is what I have so far, shaping with a hacksaw and files actually went pretty quickly:

 

IMG_7914.jpegIMG_7916.jpeg

 

It still needs some tweaks (like finishing the handle shape and alignment), and any general critique is welcome of course, but my main question is this: in the future, how would you avoid those gaps from sawing the slot for the handle? I got to see some in person (below) and I don’t think most of them have gaps like that? 

 

IMG_7781.jpeg

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Can you be sure that the handles are one piece, and not 2 halves pinned/glued together?

RIP Bear....be free!

 

as always

peace and love

billyO

 

 

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On 10/10/2023 at 4:34 AM, Aiden CC said:

how would you avoid those gaps from sawing the slot for the handle?

 

I wouldn't saw it. Those originals were probably carved with a narrow chisel to make the slot.  A small circular sawblade on an arbor could work, or even a scraper, especially in antler.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

When I made the one and only Ulu I have ever attempted, i used my mini-mill to cut the slot.

 

Handle fitting (2).jpg

 

Barring that, you could use a dremel or rotary tool with a small burr. I have also seen people use a cut-off wheel for the angle grinder after shaping the Ulu tang to match the cut-off wheel radius. Dremel also makes a small wood cutting wheel.

Edited by Joshua States
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Come to think of it, using the saw as you did would work fine, as long as you only cut far enough to allow the blade tang to fuly fit the slot and shaped the tang just so.

 

“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.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, all! I also got some advice from someone who solely makes this type of knife and it agrees with what everyone has said here. It seems like drilling/milling is the way. He mentioned that burning in a tang could also work in some instances. This knife has been on the backburner for a while, but I have some time today to get back to it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Aiden,anymore i went to mostly a tow-piece handle,with a blind locator pin or two.

A decent blade on a tablesaw gives one a glue-joint that's almost invisible(depending on color/grain pattern of wood of course).

 

I personally never had much luck making a recess by milling,at least not neat enough for my liking. It also makes for somewhat of a problem to locate the pins accurately,but that's negligeable.

The reason for my technical difficulties is that i most often make such knives for use as intended,on local meat and fish,and as such they Hugely benefit from being as thin as possible,in part because of the inherent slight flex.

 

My choice of material is a carpenter's saw as old as possible,not only because the steel back then was fantastic(some are actually crucible material),but also because the older ones were taper-ground:That gives you an option of distal taper.

Also,many old saws already have the oxide layer that i like to preserve,its stable,and lovely in color and texture.

(Obviously it makes sense to work this mat'l in such a way as to preserve the original h.t.,good luck trying to get something that skinny heated evenly,et c.).

The problem with an untidy handle recess is if course hygiene,as small fragments of whatever will get in there and putrefy.

The old originals used some type of cutlers resin,which often doubled as glue that held the blade to the handle.

I've seen some sealed with the actual Seal:)(the red stuff the postal packages were sealed with),and some other that i couldnt i.d.,but darker(probably charcoal filler).

The resin in all of these is nice and anti-bactetial,to keep things safeer from all that microbial action.....

PXL_20230827_004402402.jpg

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On 10/10/2023 at 12:34 AM, Aiden CC said:

Here is what I have so far, shaping with a hacksaw and files actually went pretty quickly:

P.S.The magic of the old h.t. onany old saws kept to that fine balance between the spring temper and the edge-holding ability.

That left many of them fairly brittle,enough so to where if you score a line with a file it'll break right on it.

Thats how many an oldtimer worked in the past,but i find the cutoff discs handy,they only overheat a negligible distance in from the cut. 

 

 

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A glue joint on a handle of California redwood(nice soft/warm/grippy stuff for the purpose).

This is a slightly different kind of knife,for use in skin-sewing,but the principle is the same as the uluaq.

PXL_20231024_160937270.jpg

PXL_20231024_032817941.jpg

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Nice Jake! Those old saws are great steel. I have 4 antique hand saws and one old two-man saw. I don't think I could bring myself to cut any of them up though.

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“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.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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15 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

Nice Jake! Those old saws are great steel. I have 4 antique hand saws and one old two-man saw. I don't think I could bring myself to cut any of them up though.

 

Joshua, I'm totally with you...I only have one nice old cross-cut hand saw that i use(and a two-man in the cache that is used but rarely),and half expect to one day be looking at maybe cutting up something as nice or nicer even...

 

I do hate destroying any old tool,it always makes me think:"Could i Make one like it?",and the answer is always resounding No...:(

 

But we all have ways we temporise...

The Golden Age of American toolmaking had produced So many saws that the predators still today buy them wholesale at estate sales,make their money selling on one or two rare exceptional ones to collectors,and offering the stripped blades of whats left in lots of a dozen or so to whomever,cheap(-ish).

I have a friend who makes uluaq for a living and who buys such lots,and when in need of one i go and bum an odd blade from him.

I was always of two minds about producing anything that is essentially a Native design,and so only dabble at it but rarely,for an odd gift here and there...

 

Ironically,as much processing of meat and especially fish for drying and what not that i do , I've never got a hang of using this local form of tool. It takes some practice to be both competent and comfortable with it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you @jake pogrebinsky for all of the information! I’ll try and find to put it into practice in the near future. I was able to find a source of old cross cut saw blades of local (Danish) manufacture that seem to have good steel for these knives. I’ll probably keep this first knife to practice with as now I’m living somewhere where I catch fish big enough to be worth filleting! My record in Colorado was a 45 cm trout, broken easily by my first cod in Denmark. 

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