The Kestrel Crooked Knife
The Kestrel knife is a refined version of the traditional crooked knife, using tool steels hardened and tempered to close tolerance. You don't have to work in the Northwest coast style to appreciate a fine crooked knife. At home in hard or soft woods, they are especially useful for hollowing. Treen makers love them, and they are unexcelled in sculpture. Both convex and concave surfaces can be carved with ease. End grain is no more a trick than cross grain. The knife is a dream for fitting two curved surfaces; boat builders, luthiers, and cabinet makers who lean toward the flowing line also make ready use of these tools.
A major advantage of the crooked knife is economy. The double edge cuts with a draw or a push stroke. The bent shape allows access to areas in a wide variety of configurations. There is probably no more versatile wood carving tool. By turning the knife in your hand and using different areas on the blade, the work of many conventional tools can be accomplished. The crooked knife is one of the most useful tools the average carver can own, the other being a good straight knife. In the European tradition, a craftsman might own 100 or more carving tools. Northwest coast aboriginals did work at least as inspired and clearly as competent with a half dozen tools.
Our crooked knives come with a fully-honed razor edge which will give several hours of carving before needing maintenance. These tools are sharpened on the inside of the bend using slip stones. The knives and blades come with a twelve-page booklet on use and sharpening. We sell a variety of items for edge maintenance in the Sharpening section.
Like all crooked knives, these tools are usually held with the palm up. In this position the wrist has its maximum motion and power. The knife's hardwood haft is formed to give a powerful grip and perfect control. The haft's unique curved shape allows the carver's knuckles to stay out of the way.
Blades ordered separately are honed and heat treated and come with rivets, guard, and our crooked knife booklet with hafting instructions. Completed knives come with guard and instructions.
Choosing the right tool
We offer these knives in several sizes. Your selection will depend on the size of the work you will do with the tool. The smaller sizes are gems for all types of small work plus detailing and refining of larger work. These tools are also ideal for carvers with smaller hands and/or less powerful wrists. The full size knives are used for mask and bowl carving and for roughing and hollowing tasks.
There are two basic forms that these knives may take: crooked and not-so-crooked. The crooked blades have a recurving tip that turns up about 90°. The standard bends (C and #3) are the most versatile of the crooked knives. These blades are bent in an ever-increasing radius of curvature, like a French curve, so that almost any radius can be carved with them. For sculpture and recessed work, the C bend is the most generally useful we sell. The #3 bend is good for all kinds of uses from shaping and hollowing smaller work to the curves and radii around the nose, eye and mouth in sculpture. It is also the tool for a knife-cut kerf in bent corner box making. The not-so-crooked knives haven't a straight place on them. Use them for detailing and where the recurved tip on the other knives would interfere with the work. They are great planing tools and they will work in areas of very little room. The most popular not-so-crooked is the H-1 bend.
When carvers inquire about which knives to buy, we usually recommend our full size standard C-C bend first, the not-so-crooked, H-1 second, and the C-E knife, an excellent blade for hollowing, third. Carvers doing mainly small work will want to start with the 3/4 standard bend (C-3) and the 5/8 not-so-crooked (C-5).
Go to the 'Crooked Knife specs' page to see the sizes and bends available.