How to Make an Alaskan Ulu Knife

The Making of the Ulu Knife

In our house we've been using an Alaskan ulu knife for many years. It's an easy and quick way to cut fruits and vegetables. The curvature of the blade rocks back and forth on the mating cutting board for efficient slicing. The ulu knife and cutting board is based on one we purchased while visiting Alaska many years ago.

Knife Making

The blade is made from a sheet of 16 gauge stainless steel cut with a jigsaw and metal cutting blade. Some final sanding and shaping was done on the disc sander and belt sander. I sharpened the blade using a Work Sharp 3000 sharpening station and finished up by hand with a sharpening stone. The blade is sandwiched and glued using epoxy between to pieces of soft maple and reinforced with 1/4" brass dowels.

Cutting Board

The mating cutting board is also made up of soft maple with walnut accents. Once squared up I chucked it on the lathe to carve a recessed bowl to allow the blade to rock back and forth. All the wood was then sanded smooth and finished with butcher block conditioner.

Cook With Meat

This video was made in collaboration with Cook With Meat. Check out his YouTube channel and website for some amazing cooking tutorials.

Tools and Supplies Used

Download the FREE template to this project here!

how to make an alaskan ulu knife


spray painting template

Step 1: Spray Painting the Template

First thing I did was print the template and cut it out with an exact-o knife. I use that as a stencil and spray painted the outline on some sheet metal I got from the home center.


cutting metal with jigsaw

Step 2: Cutting the Blade with a Jigsaw

Using a metal cutting blade on my jigsaw I cut the shape out. I did use some tap magic cutting fluid to keep the metal well lubricated and was surprised on how easy it was to cut with a jigsaw. For the center I needed to drill out a hole for a place to insert the jigsaw blade.


Sanding Metal

Step 3: Sanding Metal Blade

I then finalized the shape on the disc and belt sander using 120 grit sandpaper.


bastard file

Step 4: Using a Bastard File

The inside was shaped using a bastard file.


sanding

Step 5: Sanding the Blade

I sanded the face sides with my random orbit sander up to 240 grit and then stuck on some synthetic finishing pads to polish the metal.


Synthetic Sanding Pads

Step 6: Synthetic Sanding Pads

Once sanded to 240 I then stuck on some synthetic sanding pads to polish the metal.


sand rough edges

Step 7: Sand Rough Edges

And then a bit of sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges.


reference line

Step 8: Reference Line

For the bevel I just freehanded a reference line along the edge.


sanding knife bevel

Step 9: Sanding the Bevel

I started sanding the bevel using my belt sander to remove a bulk of the material.


work sharp 3000

Step 10: Finishing the Bevel

Once I got pretty close I then used my Work Sharp 3000.


sharpening stone

Step 11: Sharpening Stone

I did some final touches with a sharpening stone and making sure the the back was completely flat.


cutting on bandsaw

Step 12: Cutting Out the Handle

I trace out my shape, cut it out on the bandsaw.


resawing

Step 13: Resawing the Handle

And then resaw it in half for the two pieces that'll make up the handle.


glue up

Step 14: Glue Up

I then glue everything together using some 5 minute epoxy.


brass dowels

Step 15: Brass Dowels

Once the glue dries I then drill some holes for 1/4" brass dowels that is also glued in using epoxy.


finishing

Step 16: Finishing

And then some final sanding and a few coats of butcher block conditioner for a nice finish.


gluing up cutting board

Step 17: Making the Cutting Board

For the mating cutting board I'm gluing up some soft maple and walnut.


cross cut sled

Step 18: Squaring Up the Cutting Board

Once dry I plane it down to thickness and cut it into a perfect square before chucking it up on the lathe.


cutting bowel on lathe

Step 19: Cutting Away Bowl

Here on the lathe I'm carving out a concave surface that should allow the knife to rock back and forth for efficient and fast cutting.


butcher block conditioner

Step 20: Finishing the Cutting Board

And once again I do some final sanding and finish it off with butcher block conditioner.


how to make an ulu knife

how to make an alaskan ulu knife how to make an alaskan ulu knife

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