CLARK HERITAGE COLLECTION
Claude Lockhart Clark
MULTI - USE BLADES
African carving tools should be viewed as fluctuating material rather than ridged classified parts and objects. The blade in illustration "F" is often removed from its handle and replaced at a different angle to serve as an adz or axe. (See insert "J"). Sometimes the same blade is removed and used as a knife or scraper.
African adz blades basiclly come in two shopes; broad and narrow. The broad blades are usually flared. at the bottom and narrow at the top. Designs "E" and "F" show the slot fitting flared blades. Illustration "A" shows a fold sleeve blade. "C" illustrates a circular sleeve blade with a flare. Next Page
Blade hooks are a modification of the flared blade portion of broad blades. This invention probably started first as a blacksmith's signature or trademark. The attractive design served as a marketing tool to attract more clients before its practical uses were fully realized. We shall soon see blade hooks are a very practical invention relative to African woodcarving tools. These hooks are used on large and small blades and on both narrow and broad blades. They appear on both the left and right side of the blade for left and right hand use. See illustrations "A" though "D". On large blades like type "A" and "B" they serve to remove wood from small areas which would ordinarily have to be removed with smaller tools "D" and "E", if it were not for the hooks on the two larger blades.
Hooks can also be used to cut lines. This is achieved by removing the blade from its handle and pressing the hook into the wood then pulling it. If one wishes to remove the wood from the line then start at the top of the line again this time placing the hook a short distance from the first line; then pull. What results is a "V" shaped furrow after you pull the loose wood out. See chart "IV". Return to Cover Page
Knife shown in illustration "G" was constructed just for this purpose, but why use that when blade hooks will work as well?
An advanced development of both the, single handed, digging tools and knives enable Africans to excel very well at wood carving, using concave and convex carving principles. Africans place a greater emphasis on the performance of adz and knife. Of the two choices, knives reign supreme. Gouge and chisel play a lesser role. Return to Cover Page
The knife has given rise to a variety of bent and straight shapes. The bent knives are used for concave forms and the straight knives are used convex primarily. Next Page
With the invention of the circular sleeve, other developments in hand tools emerged. Blacksmiths in Ghana probably produced some of the world's finest non-machine powered hand carving tools known to woodcarving. The Akan speaking people in particular, the Ashanti of Ghana, have assimilated almost ever non machine powered carving device known to man into African tool technology (see illustrations "A" through "C". They not only reshape blades into African designs; they transform the language and function of each item as well. Even though European and some Asian tools tend to be very precise in function, these same tools, when redesigned utilizing African design principles, conform to multitasks principles used in African tool technology. The Akan produce a wider variety of knives, scrapers, chisels and corkscrew shaped blades. These tools are produced from a high grade of steel and can hold a very sharp cutting edge for a long time.
The circular sleeve blades are difficult to sharpen properly because unlike most African tool sharpening. Akan tool edges are single sided (possibly an influence of the British. The end results surprisingly results in a superior carving tool without destroying the African principle of multi-side and multitasks tool usage (see insert on chart "VI"). Next Page