Shaping Up - Blade Style Guide
I wanted to take some time to talk about the common shapes we see in knives and the purpose they serve. While I think we can all agree that it is enough for some knives to just look really cool, I’ve always found myself interested in blade shapes and wondered if there was more than just artistry at work. It turns out, many of the blade shapes you commonly see are designed for specific tasks or offer some sort of ergonomic benefit. Over the course of a few articles, we’ll tackle the most common blade styles, exploring both their strengths and weaknesses. Take what I provide here as an opinion, but know that I have probably accidentally cut myself with every blade style known to man. So, I’m pretty much an expert… I’ll cover three popular styles today: the standard blade, the drop point, and the clip point.
Standard blades are just that. If you aren’t looking for anything fancy, and don’t have special requirements for you blade, then a standard blade will do the trick. Standard blades feature a straight spine. This is typically the design you see in steak knives. They are great for slicing, but provide very little ergonomics for specialized tasks such as skinning or carving. Standard blades are typically easy to sharpen, but can sometimes suffer from weak tips depending on the width of the blade.
Drop points are identified by the gentle, convex curve that runs from the blades spine, down to the tip. Different artists will give this point their own flare, but the idea is the same. Drop points are great all around blades. The shape lends itself to many tasks including skinning, carving, and piercing. Most drop points provide the user with many cutting angles and can even be used to get detailed cuts. The drop point design offers durability in both the blade and the tip. Here are a few examples of drop point blades: SCH503RB 7420DCX 1556BLK
Clip points are very similar to drop points with the one major change being the curvature of the tip. While a drop point features a convex curve down to the tip, clip point blades have a concave curve. This sweeping curve allows for a finer point, thus making it superior to the drop point in piercing and detailed cuts. The clip point was made popular in the US in the 1800’s by the Bowie knife design and has withstood the test of time to remain one of the most popular blade designs. In some designs, the clip point can prove to be a weak spot in the knife if the point has pressure applied to it directly, so use caution. This is not a style that you want to use as a pry bar. Here's an example of a clip point blade: 0316BKX
Each of these blade designs are incredibly useful. I have owned multiple knifes featuring each of these blades. My suggestion for EDC would be the drop point. The tip is less likely to break during uses other than cutting. My EDC blades find themselves filling all sorts of roles (screw driver, pry bar, putty knife, etc.) and I’ve found that the drop point has been a stand out regarding performance under pressure. But, as always, if you like the way if feels and cuts: buy it, carry it, use it. There is no right and wrong when it comes to what you like in a blade. When choosing a blade, take the blade style into consideration. Think about what the blade’s purpose is and what style is comfortable to you. Next week I’ll cover the spear point, the tanto, and the sheep’s foot. Until then, be safe and stay sharp!