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Several types of knives today are useful in the kitchens as well as in factories, which include cleavers, chef’s knives, paring knives, and slicing knives. They are also pretty popular. However, there is one more traditional knife with such versatile uses but is somewhat overlooked. This is the ulu knife.
Regarded as an all-purpose tool, it was originally made by the Arctic and Alaskan aboriginals for cleaning and skinning animals. However, today, these are not the only users. This versatile knife is also used for trimming snow, making igloos, cutting a child’s hair, and cutting veggies, cheese, herbs, fruits, and pizzas.
While originally made by the hands of the indigenous people of Alaska, the ulu knives are today made outside its native area. This has resulted in many options for you to choose from. While this is appreciable, it can also confuse you as to which one to choose, especially if you are buying for the first time.
So, if you wish to buy the best ulu knife, this guide will be of utmost help. It will reveal not only the top 3 ulu knives to consider as per your requirements but also the buying factors or essential things to keep in mind to make your selection easier.
An ulu knife is undoubtedly one of the most innovative tools belonging to the Eskimos. It looks much similar to a mezzaluna. The blade is curved in a semi-circular manner to trigger a rocking motion, which is ideal for slicing as well as chopping in one round of use.
The blade’s positioning is such that it takes up all the weight of your hand and gives additional pressure for handling tough items such as bone. The overall knife’s shape is such that the force is kept more toward the blade’s center, unlike a standard knife.
This mechanism also facilitates quick cutting with one hand. The rocking motion on a board or a plate pins down the item under the target that adds to one-handed use. This is unlike other knives. For example, a standard steak knife would need a fork for using it with one hand.
2021’s 3 Best Ulu Knives Reviewed
Alaskan Ulu, Legendary Knife of the Arctic
This is a genuine Alaskan ulu knife that is ideal for performing various kitchen tasks with efficacy and ease. It is made in Alaska, by the inhabitants of the Arctic.
With more acuity and leverage, this knife ensures easier fine cuts and chopping. The 6-inch long blade is made up of stainless steel and is linked to a large wooden handle that ensures proper grip. The steel does not rust or stain, and it is sharp enough to ease dicing, chopping, and cutting.
The handle features an ergonomic design and feels comfortable on the hands. You feel the desired control while moving the knife. Interestingly, this ulu knife comes with a walnut stand and an instruction booklet.
- Easy to hold
- Easy to sharpen
- Walnut stand included
- Immediate washing required to prevent rusting
- Proper oiling of the handle and stand required
Lamson Ulu Knife with Riveted Walnut Handle
Most buyers have referred to this knife as the most versatile one, as you can use it for kitchen chores and even outdoor tasks. The credit goes to the sharp blade made up of tempered and hardened stainless steel having high carbon content due to which it can handle almost anything.
The model is a half-tang construction protected with rivets made up of brass. The handles are made up of walnut due to which the look is classic, and the build is sturdy. In other words, you are ensured of durability.
Further, you feel good when in your hand with its perfect grip. This knife also maintains its edge. After all, all Lamson knives are sleek, creative, traditional, and high-performing.
- Most versatile
- Easy to use
- Edge retention
- Sanding may be required, as the handle seems rough
Alaska Ulu Knife and Chopping Bowl Set
This distinct but highly useful set has a cutting block with a knife stand and an Alaska ulu knife. The block is square and measures 8 inches together with a stand for the knife. This is how it is easy to store the knife.
The handle is comfortable and ensures an optimal grip while using the knife for any kitchen chore. Talking about the blade, it is made up of stainless steel and is pretty sharp. It is sturdy, sharp, and resistant to wear.
Due to the small size, this set is ideal for those having smaller hands. They can then easily control the knife while using it.
- Compact set
- Sharp edge retention
- Stand and bowl included
- Need to keep dry to prevent rusting
The Difference between the Ulu and Mezzaluna
If you know what is mezzaluna and have ever seen an ulu, it is evident for you to consider both the knives as identical in terms of appearance. While this is true, it cannot deny the fact that both of them tend to differ from each other.
A mezzaluna knife can be considered as the Italian form of the ulu. It usually comes with two short handles, unlike a single perpendicular handle in an ulu. In simple words, a mezzaluna requires you to use both the hands, while an ulu is manageable with just one hand.
Then, unlike an ulu, a mezzaluna can have two curved blades moving parallel to one another or just one curved blade. It is more useful for chopping a big number of herbs on cutting board or bowl having a dent in keeping scattering of herbs at bay. On the other hand, an ulu is better for slicing veggies and pizza.
Mainly, look for one-handed ease of operation while distinguishing between ulu and mezzalunas at the time of shopping an ulu knife.
Buying Factors to Consider For the Best Ulu Knife
It is a fact that no two ulu knives are identical. There is always something unique that separates one ulu knife from the other. To determine which ulu knife is ideal for you, it is essential to know which one has all the desired features that can meet your requirements affordably.
Finding them out brings the best ulu knife in your vision from among the diverse collection. To do so, you need to know how you will assess the different promising ulu knives. For this, you need to be aware of your requirements and factors (features) to compare. Let’s check them out!
Your Purpose or Usage
The first thing to find out is for what purpose you will be using an ulu knife. Ulu knives, irrespective of their design, size, and version, are useful for a variety of purposes or several daily needs. They are no longer confined to the traditional uses of skinning animals and cutting hair.
Today, they are used in kitchens for slicing, mincing, dicing, chopping, and cutting things with one hand and even in adverse situations for self-defense. So, do you need a knife for all or most of these tasks? If yes, then an ulu knife is an ideal option for you.
This answers why YOU should invest in an ulu knife. Just because your friend or a neighbor has brought it, it does not mean that you, too, should buy it. Despite having a weapon-like look, the curvy knife is widely seen in pizza restaurants.
So, if you are going to make pizzas quite often, it makes sense to look for an ulu knife. Logically, it all depends on your requirements.
Typically, the size of an ulu knife tends to affect its utility and usage. In other words, the size reflects the usage of an ulu knife. For instance, an ulu knife whose blade is small, such as just 2 inches long, is ideal for cutting sinew that connects muscle to bone.
In ancient days, a special, small ulu knife known as the Kimagtuut, was used to make patterns from the skin of animals such as seals and caribous. Similarly, for general chores, a 6-inch model was considered ideal. Even today, this size is considered as the standard one for most models. Yet, it is common to find models of around 12 inches.
For most buyers, the best ulu knife is perhaps the one that performs all basic tasks, including those in the kitchen.
While researching online, you will find that the most popular model is the Alaska ulu knife. However, it is not the only type to see and explore. Overall, there are four types of ulus, each termed for its native area where it originated. They are as follows:
- Inupiat or Alaskan: Comes with a part that is taken away from the blade whose both ends go inside the handle.
- East Greenlandic: Has a small, curved handle and a big rectangular blade.
- West Greenlandic: Has a thin and small handle that connects to an oval-shaped blade via a stem.
- Canadian: Has a handle and a blade connected via a thin stem. It is available in two forms, namely, with a more pointed blade seen in the eastern area of the Canadian Arctic and a triangular blade seen in the western area.
Originally, the blade of an ulu knife was built using flat and slender rocks, jade, or slate, while the handle was made using wood, ivory, or bone.
However, today, the blade of many Alaskan models is made using stainless steel, while the handle is made using hardwood or caribou antler. There are also models with durable plastic handles and come with a cutting board.
All are durable materials. However, if you are against animal cruelty, avoid caribou antler or bone as the build material.
An ulu knife is quite easy to maintain. Occasional honing is essential to make sure that the edge is cutting fine. When it comes to sharpening, perform it using a steel or hard stone on the beveled side.
Can physically-challenged people use an ulu knife?
Yes! Ulu knives due to their support for easy one-handed operation motivates the physically-challenged people to use it. Bringing these people to the kitchen is one of the special abilities of this knife. Those having nerve disorders, arthritis, wrist pain, carpal tunnel, or any other similar medical conditions can more easily help in the kitchen using this knife.
How to clean an ulu knife?
It is easy to clean this knife, as there is no specific or distinct method required for it. Cleaning it after use is essential for its lasting durability.
You should wash and rinse it using warm, soapy water and wipe it with a dry cloth before storing it. It is recommended to prevent soaking the knife so that the handles remain an integral part of it. Do not put it in a dishwasher, as it is not safe for this knife.
How to sharpen an ulu knife?
Just like any other blade, the blade of an ulu knife has a sharp edge. With incessant or frequent use, this blade is likely to become blunt. Thus, you need to sharpen it.
You start by fist, holding it tightly with a clamp or with just one hand on a table to keep disruption at bay. Now, position it such that the handle resides nicely on the table while the blade bulges. Using a whetstone, a file, or diamond-coated steel as a sharpener, move it along the blade’s length gently.
Maintain this gentle pace until you are fine to accelerate. Focus more along with the blunt cut. However, it is important to stick to the direction in which the manufacturer has sharpened it originally. Continue to move until the face becomes sharp and shiny.
Once done in that direction, go to the other direction and sharpen the blade’s other side.
At present, not only the natives but people across the globe are using ulu knives for their daily kitchen chores. Featuring high sharpness, these knives are versatile due to which you should consider owning one. You should choose the one that best suits your requirements.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.