Introduction: Crab'Leth: Klingon Crab Gauge

About: Warthog-faced buffoon.

I belong in the tiny overlap of the Venn diagram between "amateur crabbers" and "Star Trek Fans," and I just made a very silly thing to prove it.

It's a crab'leth; a Klingon bat'leth used to measure dungeness and rock crab.

Why would I make such a dumb thing? Because I just got a crabbing setup, and have been assembling and tweaking my rig so I can go out and catch crab from my kayak, here on California's north coast. The lame crab gauge that came with my set has markings for lots of species I'll never see, but all I want or need is a gauge with 5.75" (for dungee) and 4" (for rock).

So when I decided to make my own and doodled two curves inside each other, it reminded me of the traditional Klingon weapon, so obviously I had no choice but to make one. It's super dumb, but it may very well be the only one in the entire United Federation of Planets, so I guess that's kind of nice.

Mine is made from aluminum (from a sacrificial clipboard) and paracord. I'm gong to be pretty vague about how I made this because it's pretty simple and you can make yours using a wide variety of tools.

Step 1: Drawing It

I drew it to scale in Adobe Illustrator, then printed (PDF attached). I tried to maintain the general vibe of the Klingon original, but all the shapes had to warp a bit to make it all work.

Step 2: Making It

This could be made out of a variety of materials, but I used an aluminum clipboard I had on hand, which I sacrificed due to its convenient thickness and my laziness. I plan to make a few more out of that clipboard, when/if a non-lazy moment presents itself.

I transferred the shape to the aluminum (scribble with a pencil one one side of the paper, then flip the paper and trace the outline*), used a jigsaw to rough out the shape, then did the rest using my drill, a file, and a grinder. I kept a ruler handy to make sure the points stayed relatively true to their measurements. If you have a cool CNC cutter or any assortment of decent tools, your results will be better than mine.

Once the shape was right, I tightly wrapped and tied black paracord around the "handle" areas, then melted them into place over a flame. Brown ("leather") would probably be a better choice for the handles but I didn't have any brown, and I think I've more than established the fact that I'm too lazy to go buy stuff.

*Print the attached PDF if you're in a scribbly mood.

Step 3: Using It

As of this writing I've only caught a few rock crabs off of a local pier, no dungeness yet. Wish me luck next season!

As for rock crabs: you're allowed to take 35 per day here in California and that's way more than anybody needs so that's nice. But they're real jerks; ill-tempered, easily offended and foul-mouthed. While their claws are really tasty, their legs and body meat feature an exoskeleton so thin that pieces of shell invariably sneak by, so the labor-to-meat ratio is on the border of "worth it." Dungeness are meaty and yummy and great all the way through so it's really no contest, but a rock crab is a decent consolation prize when the dungees prove to be too elusive.

Attached is a photo of some rock crabs I managed to pull in from the pier, all 4 inches or wider, according to the crab'leth.

Also attached: images of my current setup: a cheap sit-inside kayak with a few modifications to allow the transport and deployment of two collapsible crab pots and their flagged buoys, a five-gallon live well with a battery-powered bubbler to keep the captives oxygenated, and a trolley made from a (free, Craigslist) jogging stroller. I'll let you all know how it works when crab season rolls back around in November!

Step 4: Making It Again

Next incarnation: I'm of the school of thought that you should humanely murder your crabs and clean them before boiling, instead of tossing them in boiling water along with all their guts, or busting their carapace off in one fell swoop and dumping them in the boiling water - cleaned, but still technically alive. I've read all the arguments that they "don't feel pain," but they don't sway me; I maintain that efficient assassination is a more honorable death. To date I've used a knife or small screwdriver sharpened to a point to do the deed (following the instructions here:, but the next logical incarnation of the crab'leth is to make it out of a more sinister material like stainless steel, sharpen it to a deadly point, cry out "Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!" and dispatch your foe, eyes wide, with a snarl.

bImejDI' reHbetleHlIjyItlhap!

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