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More Oyster Shuckers

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I'm gonna be a little wordy. skip the first paragraph to get to the meat.

The NC state Fair in Raleigh just finished yesterday. I had the privilege of working there a few days. In years past I usually (mostly by choice, as well as seniority/ability) worked on the side anvil making hammering noises, explaining what was going on, and talking to just about anybody that happened along. this year, one of the gentlemen that more or less runs the shop (Al, for those of you who have been there) said "Paul, set up on the big anvil, and start hammering." That's what I did for an average of 7-9 hours each of the three days I was at the fair. At first, I just made the usuall - hooks, leafs, snakes, etc...Then I tried out demoing something one of our IFI members, Marksnagel, described some months back - reforming a horse shoe into an oyster shucker.

One end I fuller-isolated to make what I call a thumb cup. The other end I fuller-isolated for the blade. When working with a good bed of coke, they crudely take about 20-25 minutes for me to make. This does not include filing the blade end to an edge and brushing the whole thing down. The time is just long enough to keep peoples interest and they were selling as fast as I could make them.

The beauty of these things was that I was able to modify them to true usefullness by asking onlookers to hold them and critique them for me. This actually helped a bit because people that did this usually bought one - often the one I had them critique. I even got several commissions for some of these. Here are two of them.



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Paul they look great! Oyster season is in full swing over here on the coast. Tomorrow I am going to drop off a few to the C&H oyster Bar here in town for their use and hopefully they will promote them.

It did my heart good to see you have made them.

Mark <><

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I made mine out of whatever size shoes I had. Big hands want bigger handles so it evens out. The only thing to keep in mind is that the blade needs to be hammered on the back side of the shoe since it will be bent double.

Also Paul, I hadn't thought of fullering the ends like you did. I really like that idea, thanks.

Mark <><

I will make some more this saturday and post pictures of the progression. They are really easy to make.

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How's this. Mark, you give them pictures of the actual thing and I will try and draw this stuff out (mind you, I am not an artist)
1. Start with a horse shoe and straighten it out.

2. next, I fuller both ends to isolate the blade and the thumb pocket. For the pocket, I try to leave about 1 to 1 1/4 inch of shoe at the end. This will be upset then mashed flat to make a disc/penny end about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch in diameter. for the blade end I try to leave about 2 to 2 1/2 inches of shoe. I have found with diamond shoes that have 4 holes on each side, I fuller between the first and second holes, a little closer to the first.

3. Now, as Mark mentione, when you flatten the pocket end and hammer in the blade bevels, these have to be done with the shoe oriented as it would be on a horse (the groove with the nail holes goes down). I just taper the blade end to a spear point, without drawing it out any longer that I started with.

4. Next, I upset the thumb pocket area to a round shape then flatten it down to about 1/8 inch or so thick. The goal here is to get about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. For the blade, hammering near the edge of the anvil, I hammer a out a very thick tapered spear point, kind of like a patch knife blade - only having one beveled side with the bottom being flat. I also flip the whole thing over and dish the thumb pocket on a wood stump.

The idea here is that when the thing is finished, the nail groove will be on the outside. This has an already rounded contour and is comfortable in the hand.

5. Lastly, when I bend it over, I do not bend in the center of the shoe, I center my bend at the end end of the nail groove on the pocket side. This way the pocket ends up roughly above the fuller for the blade.

because I did not figure out how to put the pictures in the post, they are in order (more or less) at the bottom of the description.







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Great tutorial!
I combined the images with the explaination in a word document if anyone wants it. (I don't know how to post it here)
I like to print and save these in a binder for future project ideas.

I look forward to seeing the photos. I'm still a bit unsure of the blade angles, but i'm sure it will become apparent when forging.

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An oyster shucker is a small knife used to pry open or "Shuck" a live oyster. They're very common on the coasts.

In Connecticut where I was raised they have an annual Oyster Festival where people stand around shucking and slurping down oysters and beer.
Eating raw oysters is an aquired taste (One I haven't developed, I'd rather have mine stuffed thank you!) but these would be a big hit there!

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Awesome! I've been to many oyster roasts while living in South Carolina..I still have my oyster shucker..they are kinda like a pocket knife that you treasure and keep..good memories shucking oysters with friends on a cold fall day.

I doubt they would sell here in Western Colorado..haha.

Erik Cornelison

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I'll probably get a lot of static from this statement but here goes anyway.
I'm pushing 70 & grew up in Bayou La Batre AL, the seafood capital of AL, the 6th largest seafood producer town in the US. Went to a Catholic school which was next door to the seafood company that had 65' freight boats loaded with oysters come in daily. My mother worked in the factory & I spent many, many hours in the factory as a young boy waiting to go to school. To this day I still have a commerical oyster catching license & plan on going one day next week to catch a couple sacks of the fine Mobile Bay oysters.
Now that I've established my background of the oyster industry here is the catch---
You do not shuck raw oysters, you open them. You shuck steam oysters. As I've said I stood many hours watching the hugh black man roll the rail car down the track & move it in front of the women who stood on a little plank off the floor about a foot, they had a rythem to the movement of their butts & sad for the little skinny lady that was out of rythem between two of the larger butted ladies. The steam oyster has turned loose in the shell so thus you only need to "SHUCK"

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Hit the wrong key & posted the above before I finished.

"Shuck" the oyster out into the bucket hanging on the little rail car. A live oyster still has the eye attached to both halves of the shell therefore the need for the type knife made above by Pault17. The health dept has put a stop to using these type knives in the shops here in the Bayou, you now need one with a composite handle with all the food grade stuff. I still have & use my mother-in-laws knife I made for her many years ago.
Another person came along with a wheelborrow & shouvled the shells from off the floor & rolled them up a steep ramp to dump them. The shells were used by the cement company to make concrete blocks back in that day. The use of oyster shells in making blocks was the reason the Mobile Bay oyster industry was depleted back in the early days.
I sure hope they are salty next week, later,

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  • 2 years later...

I know this is an old, dead thread, but I was looking for some info on shuckers and saw that others had posted after my "demo".

Anthony, many thanks to your information.  I could have used it at the fair this year (yeah, I still knock out a few for show-n-tell.  your story about the two bigs beatin up the skinny, is good for a nice chuckle. thanks again

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