"Not all those who wander are lost."

J R R Tolkien

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4 December 2009

Mocotaugans, or crooked knives.

The Native People of North America seemed to have thought the Crooked Knife, or to use one of  their names for the tool, Mocotaugan, was, alongside an axe and a knife, an absolutely indispensable tool they could use to make everything they needed, from working on a birchbark canoe, to making snow shoes and all sorts of things.

I have to say I like the crooked knives myself, and have made quite a few over the past 2/3 years. For some reason, it does not seem to interest people involved in Bushcraft that much, which I found surprising considering how indispensable it was to people who relied on "bushcraft" skills and tools for their survival. Anyway, I consider if the crooked knives were good enough for them, it's definitely good enough for me.

I am not talking about the Scandinavian hook knife which is a different tool.

A few pictures of some Mocotaugans I have made:

The first one I made had a straight out blade. I didn't use it much because it didn't work that well for me.

The second had a swept back blade, better but not quite right yet.It is still a favourite, I like the antler handle, it's was just the right shape for my hand. The spoon was made entirely with it, although the curve is a bit flatter that it would need to be for hollowing the bowl of the spoon. Easily cured by making another crooked knife with a tighter curve!

It does take a little effort to get used to the hand position (palm up) but once you get the hang of it it's a really good tool. These all have 2mm thick blades and work well, but I think that for a all purpose work-horse, I would make the blade slightly thicker, 2.5 to 3mm at the base reducing the thickness at the tip.


  1. I've a couble of bent knives, and use them a lot. Not only for spoon making but for some carving .
    So I'm keen to try one of yours.

  2. Joel!! I love your Blogs mat, still going strong! As is that crooked knife you made for me mate, she's done the lion's share of the work!

  3. Hi DIY. I like the crooked knife personally, as you might have guessed! It was good enough to be thought as indispensable by the Native People of America and Canada, so it's good enough for me too. I do sell them, if you are interested, you can contact me on my Email.
    ATB Joel

  4. AAnii Oz.

    Glad you keep an eye on this blog of mine.. I am not so good it seems at keeping up to date with it myself. New years resolution: must keep up....

    I am glad your crooked knife is good and going strong and getting used, that's what they're for. Did you do that cutting on that tree with it or is that a beavers' work?

    I have had a good look at your YouTube page and I am going to put a link to it here.

    Talk later when you're back out of the Woods of Canada.

    ATB Joel

  5. Hi.I dont now English so good but i like Your blog.Nice job fella.Lukas from Poland mybushcraft.blogspot.com