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Thread: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

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    Default Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    So I am looking for a few knives for EDC, backpacking use, and cutting stuff in general, and am wondering about the different knife types. I can find plenty of information on the web about the materials (AUS 4 vs. AUS 8), but have been having trouble finding anything about blade shapes, lengths, etc.

    Can anyone provide some insight into what the different blade types are good for? I just picked up a CRKT M16-10KZ and M16-13 off of ebay, and will probably buy a couple more. I am NOT looking for anything collectible or limited, so I don't need help with Klingon blades pros/cons.

    Any links to sites explaining the differences would also be appreciated.

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    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    Drop point is widely regarded as the best "all-around" knife blade shape, and is preferred by Doug Ritter of Equipped to Survive. Tanto features a reinforced point, so it is least likely to have tip breakage if you stab through something hard... like car hoods as in Cold Steel demos. There are tons of blade shapes but among the most common are drop point, tanto, bowie, and wharncliffe.

    Take a look here for some great information: http://www.agrussell.com/knife_infor.../articles.html

    Make sure to see this too: http://www.agrussell.com/knife_infor...de_shapes.html

    I believe a knife like the Spyderco Delica/Endura or Salt/Pacific Salt would be a great, inexpensive backpacking knife. Lightweight but tough. The Salt models are immune to rust. A few backpacking-oriented reviews can be found here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Knives/Folding/
    Last edited by carrot; 04-12-2007 at 11:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    Thanks for the links, carrot, that was exactly what I was looking for. The agrussell.com articles could use some pictures, but there is still excellent information in there.

    I never thought about his points on combo edges. I wish I had seen that before, because I probably would not have bought the CRKTs that I bought if I had read that, but such is life. People seem to like the M16's design and durability, so hopefully they will work for now. I prefer thumb studs over the holes, or whatever it is called that Spyderco uses. Spyderco does seem to have an excellent reputation though, so I will probably pick up one of the ones you recommended and try it out. A full serrated knife would be nice for cutting food/rope.

    Regarding the tanto blade, I guess I did not need to buy one of those. I can't imagine when I would ever need thrusting/stabbing strength while backpacking, since I have a gerber axe for larger chopping tasks. I guess the M16-10KZ will be my EDC if the KISS I bought does not work out.

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    *Flashaholic* CLHC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    Here's another link regarding blade styles via the Benchmade site.

    http://www.benchmade.com/about_knive...p#Blade_Styles
    Here's one with a chart showing the different types of blades styles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife

    Hope you find what you're looking for and Enjoy!
    Last edited by CLHC; 04-12-2007 at 02:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    A quick rundown of the styles most likely found in a smaller, 6" and under blade. Least useful to most:

    For general use, tantos are pretty much worthless. Their following was based more on looks than any real utility.

    Wharncliffe has some specific uses, e.g., some types of grafting, and carving using a controlled draw. Pretty limited use.

    Upswept point, think kitchen boning knife or fillet knife.

    The two styles most useful for a wide variety of tasks are clip point and drop point. The point of the blade will fall somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 above midpoint of the blade axis (centerline). The reason these are most useful for general tasks is that you do the majority of cutting with the forward 1/3 of the blade. The tip will follow and swivel with the cut without catching because it is above the axis of the blade. You get accuracy of the cut because the tip is still pretty close to the axis. Basically, you "know" or have a natural "feel" for where the point is during the cut.

    Short answer: drop point wins for the majority of cutting tasks. There can be a wide variety of blade widths under the drop point name. More of a personal preference there. I like the Doug Ritter Benchmade, I carry one most every day. It's big enough to do some pretty heavy stuff without being overly bulky. I also like a smaller blade for finer work. For that I also carry a Victornox Hiker every day. (Yes, I almost always have two pocket knives on me.) I've been carrying and using knives daily since I was 8, and this has been my favorite combination yet.

    I'm feeling a bit ornery right now, so this is sure to start a flame war on me. I hate the Striders. A sharpened crow bar is not a knife. If I need a crowbar, I'll get a crowbar. But my biggest dis is for the handles. Ergonomics must have been on vacation when they were designed. Heck, just a 1/4" roundover bit would improve it 1000%. I once dressed out a hog using a Strider and it was an unpleasant chore that took way longer than it should have and it wore out my hands with all the squared off sharp edges. Wearing gloves should not be a necessity when using a knife.

    Basically, my point with that little rant is that you should try to get some hands on with the knife you're considering before plunking down a lot of money first. Some knives look good, but when you really put them to the test you'll find they're not for you. Work some hard extended use with it before you're in a crunch. You'll figure out what works best for you.

    Good luck.

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    *Flashaholic* CLHC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lukus
    A sharpened crow bar is not a knife. If I need a crowbar, I'll get a crowbar.
    Now that was funny!

    Quote Originally Posted by lukus
    . . .Some knives look good, but when you really put them to the test you'll find they're not for you. . .
    I'll have to agree with that statement. Each one has a personal preference for their intended uses. Like they say, your methods may vary accordingly.
    LUX'Ottica

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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    Any knife shape is a series of compromises. If the uses that are compromised do not matter to you, then that is a good blade shape.

    The clip point blades make a sharp tip, but many also have a very weak, thin tip. They are also a way of giving a knife w/ a belly a sharp tip.

    The wharncliffe blades have a sharp, strong tip, but would not work well on skinning tasks because the point gets in the way. They do give a simple, easy to sharpen edge, and the back of the knife is safe, ie. rescue blades.

    The spear point is a bit of a compromise blade, to my mind. Not a lot of belly generally, but not really designed to have a super fine, sharp point.

    The tanto's are not that special, but are fine for most people's EDC uses. Open a box, cut some tape/string, etc.

    The best blades are usually those designed specifically for what your use is. If too many roles need to be played, or to many compromises are being made, a second knife/tool usually helps things a lot.

    Like the prybar thing. Carry a knife, and a prybar, and you will do a better job of filling both roles.

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    Flashaholic Theatre Booth Guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc.)

    It's interesting to read that some of you don't like the Tanto blade shape. To me, they are perfect - two "tip points" and two straight blades. For me, they are easier to keep sharp as well. I generally use a knife as a utility tool so, abuse resistance is very important. Plus, I tend to cut soft metals fairly often using the knife as a deburring tool (genuine deburring tools work better but, are less friendly to regular pocket carry). About 1/3 of the time, the metal cutting is not just deburring but, shaping. . . Never would have guessed when whittling wood as a kid that I'd be whittling aluminium and brass as an adult :-)
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Any Cal. View Post
    The tanto's are not that special, but are fine for most people's EDC uses. Open a box, cut some tape/string, etc.
    I have a Benchmade 970 with single sided Tanto blade, and I love/hate it!

    It's actually, by default, a left handed blade, the edge is formed on the left of the blade. (I'm left handed by the way).

    I dislike it because of the sharpening problems, using my Lansky sharpener.

    My lovely EDC is a Spyderco Military, and it will be for as long as I'm in the military.
    Last edited by RAF_Groundcrew; 07-15-2007 at 03:58 PM.
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by lukus View Post
    A quick rundown of the styles most likely found in a smaller, 6" and under blade. Least useful to most:
    Very interesting take on things! Some comments...

    For general use, tantos are pretty much worthless. Their following was based more on looks than any real utility.
    I'm with you

    Wharncliffe has some specific uses, e.g., some types of grafting, and carving using a controlled draw. Pretty limited use.
    Ack! Now you lost me! The wharncliffe is possibly the most useful day-to-day EDC shapes there is. A sharp point almost always comes in useful. The belly-less edge works as well (and often better) than a blade with a belly across a wide variety of everyday tasks, from cutting light rope to food prep (if we're talking folder blades), and it's easier to sharpen to boot. Most people buy drop points because they look better, but if they try a wharncliffe are sold by the format. Modified wharncliffe blades, such as the Spyderco delica/endura/Caly3 are among the most successful and best performing EDC blades in the world.

    The two styles most useful for a wide variety of tasks are clip point and drop point. The point of the blade will fall somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 above midpoint of the blade axis (centerline). The reason these are most useful for general tasks is that you do the majority of cutting with the forward 1/3 of the blade. The tip will follow and swivel with the cut without catching because it is above the axis of the blade. You get accuracy of the cut because the tip is still pretty close to the axis. Basically, you "know" or have a natural "feel" for where the point is during the cut.
    It depends very much on what you're cutting. I used to believe this also. But on a folder, for the kinds of things folders cut, I was surprised to find that when I tested head to head, I found modified wharncliffes often cut better on material that I would have expected a drop point to work better on. Worth trying both types yourself -- use the Spyderco Caly 3 as your modified wharncliffe model -- to see.

    I'm feeling a bit ornery right now, so this is sure to start a flame war on me. I hate the Striders. A sharpened crow bar is not a knife. If I need a crowbar, I'll get a crowbar. But my biggest dis is for the handles. Ergonomics must have been on vacation when they were designed. Heck, just a 1/4" roundover bit would improve it 1000%. I once dressed out a hog using a Strider and it was an unpleasant chore that took way longer than it should have and it wore out my hands with all the squared off sharp edges. Wearing gloves should not be a necessity when using a knife.
    I'm not a Strider fan either, mostly because I want my knives to cut -- that's why I buy them, and I want bleeding edge performance out of the edge. And along with that, a secure and ergonomic handle, and I reject the notion you can't get both at once. Still, these knives are very popular, so obviously not everyone has the same goals for their knives.

    Joe

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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    "Modified wharncliffe blades, such as the Spyderco delica/endura/Caly3 are among the most successful and best performing EDC blades in the world." Joe Talmadge

    I've never heard those refered to as modified wharncliffe blades. I would call them leaf shaped or even drop points. I'm not saying the term is wrong, I'm not as plugged in to the knife world as I used to be. When I think of Wharncliffe, I'm thinking of a straight edge to a slightly concave blade. I do have a plain edged Calypso and like it very much.

    The rescue type blades are Wharncliffes also, just a little longer blade length than traditional. They are exceptional for one type of cutting, and that is cutting stranded, fiberous material like rope or seatbelts on a pull stroke. I would say that's just as important for the rescue blade as the safe back.

    Sorry for beating that dead horse.

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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by lukus View Post
    "Modified wharncliffe blades, such as the Spyderco delica/endura/Caly3 are among the most successful and best performing EDC blades in the world." Joe Talmadge

    I've never heard those refered to as modified wharncliffe blades. I would call them leaf shaped or even drop points. I'm not saying the term is wrong, I'm not as plugged in to the knife world as I used to be.
    No, you have a good point. We're not really sure what to call them. The term "leaf blade" is starting to catch on. I still consider them to be a modified version of the wharncliffe -- much-lower-than-centerline point (which makes it not a drop-point), nearly-straight edge. While I do think that the standard wharncliffe deserves more credit than you gave it as a great general-purpose pattern, it's the leaf blade (or whatever we want to call it) that I've really come to love as my favorite EDC blade shape.

    The rescue type blades are Wharncliffes also, just a little longer blade length than traditional. They are exceptional for one type of cutting, and that is cutting stranded, fiberous material like rope or seatbelts on a pull stroke. I would say that's just as important for the rescue blade as the safe back.
    See, I don't consider that a wharncliffe! To point (as it were) of the wharncliffe pattern is to have a very sharp point. Rescue blades have dull points to prevent accidental sticking, which makes them a sheepsfoot pattern, not wharncliffe. At least to me, it could be that you're right and I'm wrong across the board!

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    Flashaholic* TonyBPD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about differences in knife blades (spear, tanto, length, curvature, etc

    I dig tanto's


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