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Getting to the point
Knife project popular with Rankin students

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A group of 15 Rankin Inlet students will be well-prepared for the work that follows, should they harvest an animal on their next hunting trip on the land.

NNSL photo/graphic

Stephane Nukapiak, left, Quinton Karlik, third from left, and Joe Sabourin took part in a special shop class at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik, with instructor Kyle Johnston, second from left, where they made traditional hunting knives. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik (MUI) students choose to tackle a special knife-making project during their shop class this past year.

The group completed a stunning array of beautiful, and highly functional, skinning knives for hunting.

Each student designed their own knife and fashioned the blade from premium quality 440 C-grade stainless steel.

Once the blades were shaped, they were sanded to a 320 grid and sent out to be professionally tempered and hardened.

After the blades were returned to MUI, the students made their own custom handles from muskox antler or stabilized wood and mosaic pins.

The project completed with the construction of the students' own sheathes, using eight-ounce leather stained in wax.

Shop instructor Kyle Johnston said it was "really cool" for the students to have such a keen interest in what was a large project for them.

He said he had to kick them out at 5 p.m. every day after school when they were working on the knives.

"The knife making took from the beginning of September right up to our Christmas break," said Johnston.

"Every year the students have to pick a carpentry project as a class.

"Each of the three classes has between 10 to 15 students and, this year, 15 of the students chose to do the knife making. We also did gun cabinets, gun racks, dressers and gun cases."

Elder Jack Kabvitok is helping instruct the shop class this year.

While one group would be off doing carpentry with Johnstone, the other would be working on traditional tools with Kabvitok such as an ulu, sakku or pana, among others.

Johnston said the knives are made from one of the highest-quality and most-popular steels used in the world.

He said although beautiful when completed, they're, basically, a traditional hunting knife that's highly efficient for skinning.

"Two kilns are needed to heat the knives during the process.

"There is a chance MUI may look into acquiring the kilns in a few years, if the project remains so popular with the students.

"Every student was determined to make their knife absolutely perfect, and that made them a real joy to teach during the project."

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