Great Grandpa’s corn knife.

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by Madwell, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    My dad gave me this knife today it belonged to his grandpa my great grandpa. My great grandpa was born around 1900 and died around 1955 give or take. I know he spent most of his life on a small farm in Northwest Missouri. The farm is still in the family.
    My dad has told me a little about him. He played the fiddle, was a blacksmith and could make a horse do anything. The farm didn’t have running water or electricity till after he died. I love holding these old tools and thinking about how different life was then.
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    FA0CC732-5FEE-4095-9508-17CB7D247B90.jpeg

    The knife is a simple and thin like a machete. The handle looks to me like the bottom of an axe handle that was repurposed. The handle has also been repaired at least twice once with bailing wire once with a nail.
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    One thing that struck me in looking over the blade is that there’s some mushrooming on the spine near the tip. Makes me think this was used to split some wood down at one point.
    9187C539-410D-4E8F-A23B-401AB0CE99C2.jpeg
    C0E6725B-FA70-456E-8FAF-4B933753D75A.jpeg

    I feel very lucky to have this I also have a set of his blacksmith tongs. I’m a bit conflicted on what to do with it. Part of me likes the story it tells just how it is. Another part of me wants to fit a new handle on it and sharpen it up.

    Thanks for looking.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  2. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Neat piece of family history you have there! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    That handle is what his hands made it.
    You can get a machete cheap as a user.
    JMHO
     
  4. freebirdfb

    freebirdfb Bushmaster

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    I would leave it as is because it is special.
    A while back I was at my grandparents house (Grandpa turns 91 in August) and was looking at his garden knife and he said that it was his father-in-law's knife. The patina was dark enough that the only marking that I could find was Made in America.
     
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  5. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    Might be cool to stabilize the handle with epoxy or whatever, but leave it looking like it is, and use it.
     
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  6. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks. As I said above I feel very lucky to have these old tools.
    I think you guys make a good point. I’ll leave this one just the way it is.
     
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  7. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    That’s a good idea too. I wonder how the steel is. My dad seems to think these weren’t kept very sharp.
     
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  8. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    Hard to say, a few minutes sharpening it with a file may tell you something. Id guess likely fairly mild steel, but still a useful tool.
     
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  9. central joe

    central joe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Nice score, and piece of history young fellar. joe
     
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  10. coalsmoke

    coalsmoke Scout

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    Very nice piece of family history. I would preserve it as is.

    My grandfather had a knife remarkably similar to that one that he made. I think it was made from an old crosscut saw. He used it to cut huge truckloads of corn stalks to feed his cows.
     
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  11. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    I wouldn’t epoxy the handle. That’s not easily reversible. If anything clean it up with q-tips and alcohol. Very carefully so you don’t really get the wood wet, just get the grime cleaned off of it. (I’m thinking like a museum conservator.) then just a light coat of BLO.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  12. Haggis

    Haggis Guide

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    I don't reckon I'd do anything to that old corn knife but look at it; leave it as he last touched it.

    In use corn knives were pretty sharp. I used them 50 odd years ago, in Eastern Kentucky. We cut corn with them, of course, to shock it up, but also we cut sorghum cane, for molasses. Those knives were great in the cane fields. My Uncle Paul, (a year and 3 months younger than me), came nigh as a hair of taking off his index finger with a corn knife whilst cutting sorghum cane. You can bet after that episode, the rest of use took a less lighthearted approach to swinging those big blades.
     
  13. JohnP

    JohnP No more half measures Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Wow. That is very cool. That was a tool that was used, no safe queen there. Your decision to leave it as it is was a good one. I might put a little BLO on the handle, but I wouldn’t do anything else. Very cool, indeed.

    JohnP
     
  14. Gman1051

    Gman1051 Scout

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    I wouldn't do a thing to it. Leave it as is.
    I'm fortunate enough to have been handed down to me my Granddad's two-man crosscut saw and drawknife. They are in "using" condition, and I have used them very carefully!
     
  15. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    honored wall hanger, full of stories for your own children and grandchildren ...
     
  16. will62

    will62 Guide

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    Clean up the handle and apply some BLO on it. Sharpen it and use it once in awhile. Buy a cheap machete for heavy use. It is nice to take an old tool out and use it from time to time.

    If I recall correctly about the ones we had on the farm from my great grandfather, these are fairly soft steel so they could be sharpened easily and you could get back to work.
     
  17. slysir

    slysir Guide

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    Corn cutter?? You're great grandfather needed a sword to open a bag of corn??

    [​IMG]

    Must have been hard times back then.

    :D:p:confused:

    -John
     
  18. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for all the kind words, stories, and input. As has been overwhelming suggested I think I’ll leave this one as is.

    I don’t care who you are that’s funny.
     
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  19. Sharpthings

    Sharpthings Scout

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    Very cool! Thanks for sharing this.
     
  20. salty dog

    salty dog Supporter Supporter

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    I like old tools like that too. Something that was used for decades tells a lot better story than a shiny new blade that hasn't seen blood, sweat, or tears.
     
  21. WillyC

    WillyC Tracker

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    I’ve been around a lot of old farmers now I’m one.I would bet he didn’t baton with it probably used it to tap a pin or nail back in place.Different tool in different places the corn knives around here were wooden handles 30 inches or so with a blade angled a little more open than 90 degrees we always called them corn choppers.We used them to cut weeds too You swung them to cut weeds but when cutting corn you held the corn up high with your left hand and just gave a quick up angled pull to cut.Its been fifty years but I’ve cut more than a few wagon loads.
     
  22. Medicine maker

    Medicine maker Guide

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    Keep it and hold it in esteem. There are plenty of tools but only one of those.
     
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  23. Hillbilly stalker

    Hillbilly stalker Scout

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    Man thats a treasure, I wouldn't do anything but oil the blade for protection ( if needed). One thing I would add is to make a note or write down the story to it. A lot of things happen in life , tragedies and what not. If it's found later on by a family member years from now, at least they will know the story and its family value. My grand paw had Alzheimer's his last several years and he couldn't recall a lot of the old ways and stories he used to tell. That is a nice piece of history.
     
  24. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks. That’s a good idea about writing a note about it.
     
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  25. Biker Bushcraft

    Biker Bushcraft Scout

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    Everybody has different ideas on how to preserve history. My thoughts are restore it and keep using it. Keep it alive! The few tools I have from my grandfather are well maintained and well used. They have a prominent place in my tool box. Whenever I pull out a brace out of the chest to bore a hole I think of my grandfather.
     
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  26. isme

    isme Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    What a Great piece of family history, Congratulations!
     
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  27. Madwell

    Madwell Supporter Supporter

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    I can completely understand that way of thinking. I think personally that’s what makes these tools so cool. With a little bit of care they can literally last several lifetimes.
     
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  28. bluecow

    bluecow Scout

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    VARY NICE. would look good on the wall, yet. I'm going against the grain here. i would epoxy, leave the nails and wire, and use the hell out of it. thats what your grand father made it for. honor him and it by use.
     
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