Knife reconstruction - my ancestor the pirate Jens Rasmussen

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Blog entry by mafe posted 11-04-2014 09:57 PM 2059 reads 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Knife reconstruction
my ancestor the pirate Jens Rasmussen

Ok, he might not be Jonny Depp and I have no idea from where my smile came, but this is what I come from, Jens Rasmussen and his wife, Jens are also known as the Pirate since he was captured at sea by the English and was prisoner at the Thames in England in a prison ship.

At Odder museum in Jutland, Denmark, there are some of his stuff and amongst it are this little fine knife he made while he was prisoner in 1813-1814.

I took a few notes in my sketchbook while I was there, thinking it could be fun one day to make a replica, so I can try in my own hand how he was working and the replica can then one day pass on to my daughter as a memory of our past.

The handle seemed to be made from bone, but since I had no idea what and I did not have any bones here in the shop, except from my own, I decided to use antlers, with I happened to have.
Since this will look about the same and also have a soft core.

For metal I used a sawblade, so all I needed was to shape it and keep it cool so it would not go dull.

So after an hour of shaping I was happy, think it came quite close to the original, I had some limits due to the soft core.

Then time for sand paper, grids; 120-240-320-600-1200.

Buffing the handle and making it shine and look like the old bone.

Sharpening the blade.

And honing.

That’s it!
Time for some tobacco.

The pirate’s knife.

When he was an old man, he liked to do woodworking and made several ship models of some of the ships he had sailed, here’s one of them.

He also made this compass.

This is me with my Jens Rasmussen replica…
As I arrived to our 200 years family reunion.
It was a grand day, to meet some of all the ancestors of him, talk, eat, look at all the faces and the kids even got pirate flags.

Here we are!
Ancestors of the pirate and their families.

Yes sooner or later we will all become bones and only a few of us will be remembered, but we will have the chance to dig in and celebrate, from where we came. Life is sweet.

Now I can hold Jens Rasmussens knife in my hand and get a feeling of history and where I came from.
I do see some genes might have passed down, at least some shaves might be running in the blood.

Life is what we make it, now it’s time to use the knife and make something that might stay one day I’m gone.

Hope this post can inspire to celebrate where you come from.
I sure feel lucky to have some of that woodworking pirate blood in my veins.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

21 comments so far

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 1473 days

#1 posted 11-04-2014 10:22 PM

Great post! Can you tell us anything about the little “tail” on the end? Does it serve any purpose or is it just traditional Danish styling?

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2505 days

#2 posted 11-04-2014 10:32 PM

I acually don’t know but I will guess it has been used for Splicing Ropes.
It would make sense since he was prisoner on a ship and he was a sailor as well as a farmer and much more.
(Marlinspike / fid).

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View peteg's profile


3804 posts in 2239 days

#3 posted 11-04-2014 10:40 PM

Fabulous story to accompany the make Mads, bet you just loved every minute making this simple & traditional tool which I have no doubt was probably made very similar to your version.
(less of course your cheating :) with power tools )
Looks a real nice pipe

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View icemanhank's profile


288 posts in 1572 days

#4 posted 11-04-2014 10:56 PM

Great post, I love the knife and the way it links your family history.

Thanks David

-- "These are my principles. And if you don't like them, I have others." ... Cheers, David from Sydney Australia

View Don W's profile

Don W

17868 posts in 1984 days

#5 posted 11-04-2014 10:56 PM

interesting read Mads.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16763 posts in 2522 days

#6 posted 11-04-2014 11:35 PM

Great story, Mads! It is great to link with with the past and where you cam from. some day i may go to Slovenia!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Schwieb's profile


1792 posts in 2878 days

#7 posted 11-05-2014 12:03 AM

You already know how I feel about this. As always you do such a great job of putting it all together.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Roger's profile


19704 posts in 2220 days

#8 posted 11-05-2014 12:15 AM

Gr8 story and knife to boot

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View lew's profile


11261 posts in 3172 days

#9 posted 11-05-2014 12:54 AM

Fantastic journey, Mads, thank you.

Certainly, Mathilde will cherish this knife and hopefully pass it on to her own children, eventually.

After looking at the design, I wonder what was the purpose of the projection on the back of the handle.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View CFrye's profile


8548 posts in 1256 days

#10 posted 11-05-2014 01:20 AM

As usual, Mads, your builds and stories are wonderful! Nice piece of history to connect the family. Thank you for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View sras's profile


4362 posts in 2545 days

#11 posted 11-05-2014 01:42 AM

Great to see a story about a Rasmussen from Denmark – especially since I have a Rasmussen from Denmark in my background!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ksSlim's profile


1202 posts in 2306 days

#12 posted 11-05-2014 03:13 AM

Great build and story Mads.

A note of caution when working with antler.
The dust from antler/bone can result in pneumonia.

I say this from experience.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Dutchy's profile


1967 posts in 1585 days

#13 posted 11-05-2014 08:14 AM

I enjoyed reading this contribution. Nice story and knife. I have never been further than Vejle, but when I visit Denmark in the future I will visit the Odder museum.

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2750 days

#14 posted 11-05-2014 12:57 PM

Very nice rendition of this knife and great family story to go with it Mads. It definitely looks like you have gotten your ancestor’s craftsman’s genes. Having spliced a lot of rope, I would be very surprised if that was the purpose of that point on the handle, but it is difficult to imagine whatever else it might be useful for. Maybe to widen holes in leather for sewing?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jjw5858's profile


1132 posts in 2018 days

#15 posted 11-05-2014 01:14 PM

Fantastic story and great job on the knife. I have not been in the shop as much lately, but reading this was an inspiration of creativity and fine work! I hope you and yours are well Mads. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog, be well!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

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