Custom Ulu Blade - Recommendations?

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Mar 1, 2008
Back in the Last Frontier
As I am finally back up in Alaska, and things are starting to go well again in my life (horrible experiences going to Wyoming for a couple of years, life fell apart - don't ask) I am trying to get things back to a semblance of normality and comfort. One of the things I miss is having a nice ulu in the kitchen. As a Native Athabascan, I like to do some things the old way when I can, and one that fits in well is using an ulu in the kitchen. In addition to being traditional, it's also very useful.

Here's the problem: I gave my good ulu away to a family when we left Alaska. There are places I can get them up here, but most of them are "tourist" places, and I have no desire to buy a Chinese made ulu. Even the ones made locally are fairly small, and often are not made to be used, but to look pretty on a shelf.

I want a good blade. I want it big. Basically this means either I need to make it myself or I need to have it made. Since I'm starting research for a PhD, I have no desire to get back into smithing at this time. Is there someone here who would be willing to do a custom ulu blade for me? If you can attach the handle, that's fine, if not I can have one of my students do that in the shop. However, I want the blade made by someone who understands proper materials and heat treatment. The steel has often been old saw blades, which I can find, but I'm also good with quality modern steel. It wouldn't have to be stainless, I actually like plain carbons for their edge holding and ease of sharpening, but if someone's sure an ulu could be well made out of something like S35V or VG-10, that'd be great. Honestly, I really like the idea of D2.

I included a scan of a roughed out idea of what I'd like. It's big, the blade is about 8 inches worth of cutting edge, but moose and whales are pretty damned big critters. I know it's not going to be a terribly cheap undertaking, but I thought I'd seek out some thoughts of y'all. Any blade makers here willing to consider this? If not, suggestions about who might be interested?


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The best grind for an ulu I would think would be a convex edge. It would be strong enough to hold up to the chopping and skinning, but would be easy to touch up in the field. I think traditionally it's been a scandi grind. But I'm not 100% sure of that. I think the one I had was a scandi grind but I honestly do think I would prefer a convex edge.
Maynard Linder of Homer AK is a pretty well known ulu maker that is respected for making working ulus.

maynard linder said:
Our Inupiaq style ulus such as the Barrow or Fish River are available sharpened on only one side, in the Northern Eskimo tradition. We find this style of sharpening to be exceptional for filleting or stripping fish, processing meat, skinning animals, or fleshing and splitting walrus hides.
Sure wish Caribou would chime in on this thread.

But I haven't seen him post anything for a couple of months now.

I picked up a cheap stainless ulu SEVERAL years back and I use it nearly every day. If I ever do get into smithing, it will certainly be at the top of my to-do list. I bought it at a cheapo kitchen gadget store while looking for an ulu type pizza cutter. If you find a quality blade for a reasonable price please pass the source info along.
A quick solution would be to pick up one of Maynard Linder's Bristol Bay style ulus - the shape is similar and the quality of the steel and craftsmanship is high.

I grew up in the eastern Interior, also make ulus, and occasionally take special orders shape-wise, but am almost into commercial fishing season now and won't be back to my bench until late fall now.
northwesternStars670_zpsf61edae9.jpg make yer own, I make them for the wife and daughters......or find Charles Criss of Noorvik on Facebook and get him to make you a real made by an Inuiaq, custom type Ulu.

The edge is l/ not V, and the edge kept wicked sharp.

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