Reader Contest Entry: My love of knives as tools

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My love of knives as tools

by Bill J.



An example of the author, Bill J.’s work.

For the last 20 years or so I have always carried either a pocket knife or some type of multi-tool. Generally I carried a small SAK or a Leatherman. I never had and still have not gotten into the tactical knives and I could never justify the expense for a high dollar knife. A quality 3 inch EDC around $40 was all that I needed. I have a Kershaw Skyline in my pocket right now.

My true interest in knives is their use as tools. As a hobby, I carve spoons. Someone had bought me a hand carved spoon and I thought to myself that I can do that. I found a branch in the yard, grabbed my Mora Classic and started whittling away. When I got to the part where I had to carve the bowl of the spoon, I started using V cuts to remove the material. After about 5 minutes of making these cuts, I had gotten nowhere. There had to be an easier way.


Spoon carving knives.

I opened up my laptop and Googled “spoon carving tools”. The first hook knives that I came across were made by Mora. They are the 162, 163, and 164. All three hook knives have a little different shape and will all serve to carve out the bowl of a spoon. These Mora knives are high quality tools, but are machine made and mass produced. I purchased the 162 and it served its purpose, but as my skill progressed, I found that the tool was too limited.

In my continued search for hook knives (aka bent knife, spoon knife, and crooked knife) I discovered a small collection of blacksmiths and craftsman across the world who craft these specialized tools. North Bay Forge, Kestrel Tools, and Deepwoods Ventures are just a few of such companies that make their own variation. The styles range from unique to traditional Native American designs. These makers also make traditional wood carving and sloyd knives. All use high carbon steel to obtain incredibly sharp edges.

I have found that I truly appreciate knives as tools. While I know that the knife I carry everyday can certainly be used as weapon, first and foremost it is a tool. I do admire the craftsmanship of the custom tactical knife makers but they serve to fulfill the same essential purpose. Many of these handcrafted wood carving knives are forged and the makers use very little machinery in their production. This type of manufacturing relies on the skill of the maker and not the CNC machine. I think that is another aspect that adds to the allure of these tools for me.

I encourage everyone to look up the knife makers that I have mentioned or do you own search.


(Editor’s Disclosure: As is our policy at TTAK, we disclose any potential conflict of interest no matter how small so you all can judge/account for any bias we may present. I went to high school with Bill, we had overlapping social circles and played lacrosse together. Not best friends with each other, but in a school of 400 you got to know everybody pretty well.

This is another reason that I am happy that David will be assisting me with the judging. I will give more weight to where he feels this essay belongs on the list. Feedback from you all will certainly be taken into account as well Just letting you all know…)


  1. Jeff O. says:

    So which of these other makers did you end up with? What features do you prefer for a spoon or bowl knife? What works, what doesn’t?

  2. Bill J says:


    My favorite bent knife if the North Bay Forge Deep Bent Knife (the middle one). It is hand fordged and sharp on both sides. This especially useful since I don’t need to change my grip if the grain of the wood changes.

    1. Jeff O. says:


  3. Wade Wellman says:

    How do you keep an edge on these hook knives? I have a tough time sharpening a sheepsfoot blade. I can’t imagine honing an edge on a curved blade.


  4. I carved my first ever spoon in my review of the L.T. Wright GNS:

    I’ve got a long way to go!

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Reader Contest Entry: My love of knives as tools

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