Traditional striking knives have almost disappeared. Except for Adam Cherubini’s article on them in the April 2005 issue of Popular Woodworking, you’ll find little written about them in this century.
Perhaps it’s because they look like an eye injury waiting to happen.
After working with one for about four years, I’ve become quite fond of it. It seems a simple thing , so simple that I’ve made several striking knives from spade bits. My spade-bit knives work OK, but they are missing details that make my original knife much better.
I don’t know who made my knife. It’s stamped “1876” on one side and “London” on the other. The rest of the maker’s mark is too faint to make out. Whoever manufactured it knew what they were doing. Here are my three favorite things about it:
The Curvy Bits: Where the knife goes from flat to round it has two curves. If you pinch those curves with your thumb and forefinger, your middle finger presses the blade against your try square with surprising force. Also, the round bit of the knife has a swelling that pushes your fingers into just the right place.
The Fulcrum: The knife balances on its swelling, which raises the pointy bit into the air about 1/4″. This makes it very easy to pick the knife up off the bench. Sounds minor, but it’s not.
The Pointy Bit: It’s more than an awl. I use it all the time for cleaning waste out of mortises, clearing shavings from the mouths of planes and marking where hardware is going to go.
And, for the record, I still have both of my eyes and no scratches on my eyeglasses because of it. To download a drawing of my knife, click below.