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L. & I. J. White


Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Drawknife with Cow Horn Handles  

In a previous posts I showed tools I have that have handles made of corncobs, antler, and other minimally-modified natural materials.


At the Midwest Tool Collectors Association meeting last year I found and acquired yet another such tool. It is a large handforged drawknife with cow horns for handles.

The horns are vertical with the pointed ends up when the tool is in use. It measures slightly over 20 inches in length including the horn handles. An old tool friend asked me what kind of drawknife it is and I replied that it is Viking in origin.

I explained that in times of war, the horns were worn on a helmet and in times of peace they were used as drawknife handles. Seriously, I do not know it's ethnic origin. It came from the Dekalb area of Illinois and probably dates to the first half of the 19th Century.

This is a view of the drawknife in the posture in which it would be used.
Both horns appear to have come from the same cow.

This is a view of the drawknife showing the hollow cow horn handles.

The end of the iron passes through the horn. A washer was put on
the tapered iron end which was peened to tightly secure the horn handle.

The iron was hot when it was pushed through the horn since there is some discoloration of the horn around the iron tang. I can almost smell
the smoke that resulted from installing such a handle.

James E. Price
February, 2018



L. & I. J. White

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