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Tlingit Knife

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  • Tlingit Knife

    I'm guessing the guy to ask about the Tlingit knife is Brian T.
    Screen Shot 2022-07-17 at 8.50.26 PM.png
    The page is page 13 of E.J. Tangerman's Carving Birds in Wood.

    How big is this knife? Is it two handed knife or is it comparable to a common bench knife?

    Anything you can tell me about the knife would be appreciated. I can't but help thinking I've seen a knife like this being made and sold on the Internet much like all of the other knives for sale these days.

    I was thinking about making a knife similar to this one but with wood spirits, or Christmas icons, etc.


    Attached Files

  • #2
    Fantastic! The D-adzes are more commonly used as you go south, the tribes around Puget Sound and up a little into the Salish Sea. Those are great carvings. I've built a few D adzes from Kestrel blades and their handle pattern. I added snails to mine, to indicate the speed of my carving.

    The straight knife. Tlingit are southern Alaska. Closely affiliated with the Haida and the Tsimshian.
    If you can imagine that the handle is no bigger than 1" diameter then the blade is about an inch as well. The figures are not decoration. They are spirit totems to guide the carver. The cord will be about 18 tarred seine nylon seine twine. You can buy several untarred colors in many hardware stores, they call it "survey cord." Once you get the whipping done then you can slop it up with wood glue. Saturated, it isn't ever coming apart.

    Make a few. You ought to get 3-4 easy out of a SawzAll blade. Just don't cook them in the bevelling and you should be fine. You need a knife that you can really lean down on for deep, almost chip-like, cuts when you need to.

    I use mine to cut the center line for form-lines in relief carvings. I could cut the Vee but I like to do that with pairs of skews.
    Brian T


    • #3
      Wow! Thanks Brian! I had envisioned a blade about an inch long but then made it 1- 1/4"--and I'm using what's left of a Lenox reciprocating saw blade. I've used it before for making knives. And wouldn't ya know it--since I work with land surveyors, I use the nylon cord for making my cucumber trellis every year. So, I've got a couple of spools of that laying around--neon colored of course. And when I whipped ropes for the rescue squad, I would dip the ends in varnish. Like you said, they never unravelled and they went through a lot.

      I had a feeling the carvings were spirit related. That's why I respectfully choose not to duplicate them.

      It's funny how all this is coming together. So, once we get through this 90 plus degree heat, I'll get outside and cut down that blade.

      Thanks again for your help!

      Last edited by Just Carving; 07-18-2022, 08:34 PM.


      • #4
        You are most welcome. As Galileo is reported to have said: " Never refuse an old wine or a new idea." Something invigorating to explore.

        Pacific Northwest First Nations have inspired a whole world of unique art and carving. Even their customary tools are unique.

        Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art - YouTube

        How to Carve a Tlingit Halibut Hook - YouTube

        Carving On The Edge Festival – Celebrating traditional and contemporary carving arts with something for everyone from lovers of arts & culture to carvers of all skill levels
        Brian T