Short Blade, Long Handle - a different sort of craft knife

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by OrienM, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Hi Folks,

    I thought it might be fun to show these odd knives :cool:, which I made awhile back to use for basket making. They are patterned on a variety of long-handled knife found in Asia, often associated with bamboo and rattan craft, and called by various names depending on the region...'pisau raut' (rattan knife) in Malay, 'penat' in Penan Dayak, and many others.

    The idea of these is to hold the knife still, and move the work instead...the "chest lever" grip, but with better leverage. The long handle allows the user to brace the knife against the forearm and body. It uses a whole different set of muscles than push cutting, and with practice is very efficient and precise.

    A large version (like the socketed example at bottom) also makes an effective chopper, and shows some promise as a general-use camp knife, I think. It would be a pretty scary weapon, too! The little knife is too light to chop with, but works great for detailed woodcarving and basketry. For scale, the bigger knife is 18 1/2" overall, with 5" of sharp edge.

    DSCN1808[1].jpg

    Here are a few links of native users, showing the technique. Impressive featherstick making!

    http://www.my-rainforest-adventures.com/2009/11/malat-penat-the-penan’s-jungle-parang-and-knife/

    http://www.my-rainforest-adventures.com/2009/11/a-video-on-jungle-kitchen-feather-sticks-of-sarawak/

    This photo shows a Hmong (aka Montagnard) version from Vietnam, the 'chang set', along with some other tools:

    e2010a.jpg

    Has anybody used one of these knives, or know anything about them? Anyone made something similar? Love to see some pics, if so...

    Thanks for looking!

    -Orien

    (Please note: I'm not trying to sell anything...I don't have time or energy to make blades for other people these days, so please don't ask. Learn to make your own knives, it's fun... :))
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  2. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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  3. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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  4. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Pretty cool, I really liked that video. Had not seen feather sticks cut in that manner.
     
  5. kamagong

    kamagong Scout

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    IIRC those small knives were kept as an accompanying tool on the Mandau, the short sword used by the Dyaks of Borneo. Given that the Dyaks were formerly headhunters, the small knives were used to clean out the headhunter's trophy skulls.

    :eek:
     
  6. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Yeah, the mandau side knives were the first tool of this type I noticed. I have also heard they were used to clean skulls, although I wonder if they didn't simply use the knives in cleaning all game, humans included...:46:. They sometimes used the side knives to decorate the skulls (animal and human) after cleaning, too:

    hornbill.jpg .

    Unlike many other Dayak groups, the Penan apparently were never headhunters; however, they still used the long-handled knife as a craft tool. All the Dayak groups seem to have used it for rattan working (it's the best tool ever for thinning basket splints:dblthumb:), and most used it for bone and wood carving, too.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  7. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I used the bigger knife (along with a laplander saw) for some wood harvesting and carving this afternoon. It holds up to batonning just fine:

    DSCN1810[1].jpg

    Another mode of use that works well with the tool is a two handed push cut, using it like a big skew chisel:

    DSCN1817[1].jpg

    I'm having fun messing around with it :) so I will post more pics as I find other uses to put it to.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  8. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Interesting.. Now does that mean my Assagai is just a REALY long handled knife?

    No I'm going to go do some research.
     
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  9. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Yeah, long handled dagger, or short little spear? :D

    Similarly, I really can't decide if this tool is a knife, a chopper/machete, or a short polearm of some sort. Actually, I never know what to call the thing, lol...no rattan around here, so 'rattan knife' won't make much sense. I usually go for 'basketry knife', or plan old 'long handled knife'.
     
  10. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Cattail knife? Vine cutter? Brush baton?
     
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  11. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    To really use those tools right you need to wear flip flops and use your big toe instead of your thumb to push with. o_O
    I don't think I saw any Thai people not wearing flip flops when we were there last year. Wonderful place and people.
     
  12. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    All good stuff...cattail knife has a nice ring to it. I considered "sotol knife"...one use I have for this thing is harvesting sotol leaves. The extra reach keeps you from slicing up your hands on the saw-toothed edges. In Britain there's a rather similar tool called a "slasher", but I didn't want to terrify anyone..."hand me that slasher", lol.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  13. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    No, I like it.

    Slasher it is :D
     
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  14. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I saw a few of the pics you posted - beautiful! I'm not much of a traveler, but SE Asia seems fascinating. So much amazing food, too...:)
     
  15. boisdarc

    boisdarc Scout

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    saw one used here, pretty inspirational.
     
  16. kamagong

    kamagong Scout

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    I'm sure you're right. Doesn't make for as good a story though. :56:
     
  17. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Supporter Supporter

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    I have a couple different "rattan" knives somewhere in my collection. The red-handled ones in the pic have a 9 inch blade, 20 3/4 inch overall. I'll post a thread with pics of them and others in the pic that I'd like to get rid of soon. At my age, I don't need a couple hundred pounds of knives and machetes. I may retire to Thailand anyway.

    upload_2017-12-31_13-44-11.jpeg
     
  18. IzaWildman

    IzaWildman Grey Owl Supporter

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    Interesting technique and video in the original post. Looking forward to seeing what other uses you come up with.
     
  19. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I busted the handle on this thing with some over-enthusiastic batonning last night, oops. Now I'll have to find some hardwood (osage?) and carve a new one.

    I was trying to baton on the socket side of the blade, but I should have let go of the handle first!
     
  20. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Some cool blades there! I might be interested in a couple of these myself...;)
     
  21. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Supporter Supporter

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    OrienM, I'll give you a heads-up when I dig them out of the corner of the garage and get pics.
     
  22. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Ahem... I too would be interested. For reasons..

    That it SOME collection..
     
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  23. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Supporter Supporter

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    I'll keep you in the loop. And that bunch is just part of my "accumulation". Part of a big batch I had shipped over one time.

    My "collection" is scattered about and has many different styles and sizes. When traveling about in Thailand, I would always seek out the markets and farm/hardware type stores. Each region seems to have slight variations in style.
     
  24. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Sorry to slip off track but are those kopis top center?
     
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  25. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Supporter Supporter

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    Kopis? You mean the pointy ones around the beer can?

    Hey, check out this (presumably) Thai knife with ivory handle.

    [​IMG]
     
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  26. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    The four next to the handle-less flat top on the concrete.

    That's too nice to use!
     
  27. USMCPOP

    USMCPOP Supporter Supporter

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    Those are the incurved sickle-like farmer knives. Whack weeds, brush, bamboo, sugar cane or whatever. The blacksmith I knew mostly made and refurbished that style. He gave me the one in the second pic, right side, and a relative gave me several of those sheaths. For awhile, that style was my "everyday carry" knife. At least when I was on my motorcycle with a day pack.

    Thai cutting sugar cane.JPG thai machetes small 2.JPG
     
  28. TedPalmer

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    Me three...
     
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  29. USMCPOP

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    OK, TedP.
     
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  30. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing @USMCPOP
     
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  31. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    A pair of "Toa" from Solor island, Indonesia...more long-handled choppers.

    Toa.JPG

    I googled these a bit, and found a Thai name, 'pra', for them. Looks like a great tool! My house is surrounded by big stands of cane; it makes a good windbreak, but it also has to be chopped back every so often.
     
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  32. USMCPOP

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    The incurved Thai choppers are also made with an integrally forged or welded socket. That allows attachment of a long wooden handle for clearing brush and chopping ditch or rice paddy banks.
     
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