View Full Version : Blade Types...
When I buy or look at a knife, and it's a 'clip point' or whatever, thats nice... but what does that mean?? :oops:
What exactly defines a 'drop point', 'clip point' 'sheepsfoot' or any other type of 'point'??(also what are their pros 'n cons)
The bowie fighting knife is a clip point. The forward portion of the spine is ground in an inverted crescent. This creates a slightly upturned point with a reverse slashing edge. This may be usefull in a knife fight, but for just about everything else it weakens the tip. The USAF survival knife made by Ontario and Camillus have clip points and are infamous for breaking the tips when used for any prying. A drop point has the upper spine "dropping" to form a pointed tip above the center body of the knife profile. The upper edge may be sharpened or even full thickness. This is considered overall the most usefull pattern. A spearpoint is just that, the point dead center in our profile. Double edged daggers and many of the Swiss Army Knives have spearpoints. A sheepsfoot is merely any knife without a point. This was actually the result of American legislation. A ship's captain could sew up a slash wound but stab wounds were usually fatal. Thats why many dinner knives have rounded edges. The King of France feared assassination during the main course. A sheepsfoot blade is usefull as an emergency knife for cutting motorcar seat belts or horse tack when a wreck makes stabbing victim or animal a danger. The Finnish puukko/lueko family of knives are actually straight points. The smaller knives were slim enough in profile to create a usefull penetrating edge. Drop points seem to have the best handling in terms of controlled penetration . The point is actually on the same axial plane as the hand. that, and a usefull curve give them the nod as a good all around design.
Not much to add to Mr Kavanough's typically thorough description, but I would just say that a sheepsfoot often does have a point of sorts. If you were to take a butter knife and divied it in two end to end then you would have two knives each with a sheepsfoot shape to them. The cutting edge is generally flat (sometimes serrated) and the front, where the point of most knives is, curves neatly down to it. Consequently you can stab yourself with a sheepsfoot, but it's nowhere near as penetrating as a clip- or spearpoint blade. The British Army penknife has a sheepsfoot blade.
You will occasionally see knives with a tanto point. These are styled on the Japanese tanto (of course!) and usually feature a slightly upwards-curving blade with a straight, but not vertical, front edge, usually sharpened. Supposedly the design comes from making a dagger out of a broken sword, but I've heard other theories so who knows? Blade fans love to debate such things. If you want to provoke an argument just get three of them in a room and ask them at what point a knife is considered a sword.
Anyway, in practical terms I would suggest that any knife not being bought for a specialist use should have a fairly robust, which usually means reasonably short, point to it. Spearpoint, a la Swiss Army Knives, is fine, but anything with a "spindly" look to it has to be suspect in terms of hard use. I have a very nice little pocket knife bought years ago in America which gets much use, but the blade runs to a narrow clip point, and I would never use it for the slightest leverage.
Western made tantos have distinctly defined grind lines where the Japanese masterpieces are one continuous edge. They are possibly a design to overcome bamboo armour with tremendous penetrating ability. Early owners and makers loved to demonstrate this by stabbing car doors, until owners of drop points did the same. I thought it was rather silly, demanding after one such demonstration the man "clean his kill and cook it." There is also a spey point, almost always found on classic folding trappers. This has a very acute drop point with a very blunt tip. It's purpose is for the very fine caping of animal pelts around eyes,ears and feet.
Western made tantos have distinctly defined grind lines where the Japanese masterpieces are one continuous edge. They are possibly a design to overcome bamboo armour with tremendous penetrating ability.
Hmmmm, the Japanese blade is a cutting weapon, not a stabbing weapon. Also, many authentic blades have very crisp and distinct lines, probably the majority from the shinto period onward. There is very little to distinguish the tanto tip from the tip of a katana. In fact, tanto's were often made from "failed" katana blades (the steel was too precious to waste).
Above is an authentic blade, you can see the very crisp lines. The difference between this and the americanised tanto, is usually more to do with blade profile (Americans like straight lines) and of course, construction method.
BTW, no one has mentioned the Wharncliffe blade yet. A little similar to a coltsfoot or sheepsfoot, but with more elongated nose, looking far more pointed then the rather blunt appearance of a sheepsfoot.
Wow- what a plethora of useful knowledge: Who says the internets just for looking at scantily clad females...
What, there are scantily clad females out here too? Damnit, where's that search function?
Don't forget the Hawkbill style either!
I was trying to point out the straight line pattern in american tantos. Yes, they are slashing weapons, but there are a few rather nasty stabbing manuevers. I learned this when my Zen Roshi decided to teach me kendo. After a few weeks getting battered about I took revenge. Courtesy of a local San Francisco Scott I acquired a two handed Claymore. I entered the Temple dragging this 6' monster making a noise akin to fingernails on chalkboards. Roshi Uchiama took one look and announced we were starting a new clourse in calligraphy :lol:
Veering rather off topic here, but that reminds me of a fascinating performance of Macbeth I once saw at a local college. For the dramatic final fight the college had borrowed two claymores from a museum. Unfortunately that meant that they could only be rather gently tapped together. Worse yet was the weight of the swords and the apparent weediness of the two actors. Macbeth raised his sword with a cry... and then staggered backwards offstage, desperately trying to regain his balance.