Ulu maker puts a razor sharp edge on another Ulu
Long before there were roses, chocolates, and fine restaurants on the Kenai Peninsula for men to please their wives, it was the crafting of a good Ulu, so that she could get her work done, that kept a wife content. Indeed the word Ulu means "Woman's Knife." Since 1998, local Ulu Maker Mike Moore has pleased thousands of husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, friends and visitors from around the world with his unique, one of kind Ulu's. "When I first came up here in 1977, Roy Baldwin was making ulus and I got to him a bit and was around his business a small amount, then Roy sold the business to Debbie and Randy Smith of Smith Well Drilling, they got a little overwhelmed so we bought the business in '98 and haven't looked back, just havin' fun," says Mike Miller who is now the premier Ulu Maker on the Kenai Peninsula. While the Ulu has become a sought after Alaskan souvenir and collectors item, it has never lost its practical edge, and remains a popular tool for every job that requires a cutting edge. "Every Ulu we make is one-of-kind, but they are made to use, we make them as a tool and we want people to use them as a tool, our ulus are made of the same steel that is used to make hand saws, so they hold a great edge, and that's what makes our ulus the best, " said Miller. Originally the Ulu may have been the woman's knife, but today they are a man's tool as well and very popular among hunters for skinning large and small game animals.
Miller produces and sells some 8,000 ulus a year and wholesales them to the tourist market, "Alaskans already have an Ulu, so other than for gifts, we wholesale to some one hundred outlets including the cruise ship industry that sell the ulus we make right here in Soldotna," added Miller. While the Ulu Maker's ulus come in a variety of sizes, it's their antler handles that make them a one-of-a-kind piece of art, "Most of the antler we use is shed antler that is picked up by individuals or hunting guides and sold to dealers in villages and we get our moose and caribou antlers from them, so often the animal that made the handle on the ulu you're using is still running around in the woods, and we use about 3,000 pounds of antler a year to keep our business going, so I'm constantly looking for antler," says Miller, who is strictly an Ulu manufacturer and does not retail his product. To learn about wholesale opportunities you can contact Mike Miller at 262-5957, or go to www.ulumaker.com.
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