Sep 01 2007

Another Bone Knife

Published by at 4:25 pm under Animal Materials

Bone knives are excellent for tasks requiring a more sturdy edge than stone normally is. For example, while cutting true tinder fungus with a stone is a pain, shaving it off with bone is easy. Bone is also sharp enough for cutting non-fibrous vegetables, gutting fish and skinning small animals. In the latter task bone has the advantage of not normally being sharp enough to slice through the skin, especially if you have a rounded tip on the knife. Though I prefer to work with fresh bones I have been in short supply of bones for a long time since last hunting season so in this case I had to use an old sheep leg bone I found in a field.

Start by sawing halfway into the bone at the lower end margin of where the blade is supposed to be.

Score around the sides and top so that the front piece is freed from the rest without cracking the rest of the piece. Score almost all the way through. Using water will help a lot.

Split from the top and break off the waste. This waste piece was made into a small chisel. It might not be of very great utility, but I’ll try it on green wood.

Afterwards the blade was ground thinner and pointy. For cleaning fish I would ideally want a thinner tip, but I want a stronger edge on this one for broader application.

I already had a birch bark sheath from a now broken knife to reuse.


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Another Bone Knife”

  1. American Bushmanon 01 Sep 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Absolutely fantastic!!!

    You can also turn that small sliver of bone into a wedge for splitting wood.

    I had a bone awl that broke a bit funny and left me with a piece I turned into a chisel and it works fantastically.

    Great pics and post.


  2. michael petteton 09 Sep 2007 at 6:21 pm

    I have just finished working on a bone knife. Haven’t got pics to website yet. Wanted to ask you a question. By the way your stuff is great, I like your site a lot. Question is this: dose the end have to be shaped like the one you have ?

    I scrounged the bone I’m using from an old deer carcass I came across. Wasn’t much left. The heat had dried every thing. The bone broke odd shaped. In fact I will attempt a awl out of the other piece, and some needles and gorges out of a still smaller bit. Because it broke out with sides uneven I ended up with a more rounded end.

    Another question: how sharp to make end for skinning? Thanks for you patience and your time. Again, I get a lot from this site. Thanks for everything. Michael.

  3. adminon 09 Sep 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks guys


    The reason why I shaped the end like I did was for more strength on the edge. If I wanted it for cleaning fish I would want a pointier one.

    Make the end as sharp as possible for skinning. Bone dulls quite easily so that after only a few passes it will be too dull to cut the skin without a firm thrust. That is on thicker skins at least. And most smaller animals are so easily skinned that you can just pull it off the carcass.

    Hope that helps.

  4. michael petteton 09 Sep 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Just posted pics on my blog at Thanks for your help. Leave comments if you have any . Thanks. Michael.

  5. adminon 09 Sep 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Your blog looks very promising! I’ll add a link here. If you can remove the need for subscribing to comment, I’ll do that too. 😉


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