Whaler's Boarding Knife

Whaler's Boarding Knife

Usage conditions apply
The work of carving blubber from a whale carcass and hauling the long, narrow strips of flesh, called “blanket pieces,” aboard the ship onto the deck was called “boarding.” The boarding knife was an extremely sharp, double-edged sword blade at the end of a short wooden pole. It served a variety of purposes, from cutting a hole in the whale’s flesh for the blubber hook, to cutting the long strips of flesh into shorter sections for further processing.
These tools were kept extremely sharp to cut the whale’s flesh easily. With the decks and tools so slippery from the whale processing, using them was reserved for the ship’s officers.
Object Name
knife, boarding
date made
Place Made
United States: Connecticut, Middletown
Physical Description
ferrous metal (blade material)
cast (blade production method/technique)
wood (handle material)
blade: 32 1/2 in; x 82.55 cm
handle: 27 3/4 in; x 70.485 cm
overall: 60 1/4 in; x 153.035 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
A.R. Crittenden
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
Cultures & Communities
Natural Resources
On the Water exhibit
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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