The crooked knife I got is an old one that I got from an old Indian feller a long time ago. I made one myself about five years ago.
A lot of people, when they makes a crooked knife, got to have a certain kind of wood to make their fire burn. Some says it got to be birch. Some says it got to be balsam. Me, I don't care what it is.
Crooked Knife by Wallace McLean
You take a set of knives or a bunch of axes, they all look alike, but you get some good ones and some bad ones. 'Tis the same with crooked knives. My one, I made out of an old trap spring, which is the best steel you can get. You might make one that will turn out number one, and you might make a dozen and not get a good one among them.
First you got to take the temper out of the steel. What I do is this. I red hot the steel and cut it to shape with a file. Once you burn the temper out it becomes easy to cut, so then you files it down to the shape you wants. When 'tis finished you heat it up again. Now you dip it in salt water, weak pickle. When you take it out of the pickle, you run your file over it. If the file won't take hold, well, 'tis too hard, and if the file digs in, then 'tis too soft. If 'tis too hard you heat it up on the stove until the file will take hold to your likin'. If 'tis too soft you heat it again and put it back in the pickle.
You file a crooked knife on one side. A crooked knife, a plane and a draw-knife is only bevelled on one side.
What I can't do with a crooked knife I can't do at all. The crooked knife is the most tool I ever used in my life. There's lots of people who don't know how to use a crooked knife. I've seen people use them upside down. You can't use it like that. If I was goin' to make a shavin' with a pocket knife. I'd cut away from me. If I was makin' a shavin' with a crooked knife, I'd cut towards me. That's how 'tis done.
NORTH WEST RIVER
THEM DAYS VOL. 5.1