Blade Geometry


Welcome to the Best camping knife Blade Geometry section of the website. Here I’ll be discussing all the various types of blade geometries and shapes that are found in most knives available today. I’ll talk about shapes and grinds in the section, and as always, please contact me if you see something that is inaccurate or requires revision. I am always happy to continue improving this resource!

Blade Shape

Description Though I have called this a 'Standard blade,' it isn't Standard . In fact, this shape of the blade is one of the fewest I have seen, but because the point is straight, & the curve very simple, I have called it a Standard blade. The only other evidence to this shape of the blade I have seen is "Normal Blade." On a Standard blade, the point is neither dropped or raised, but perfectly in line with the back of the handle, & should be perfectly flat. The only consistent example of this blade shape I have found is in steak knives. Examples
Description A spear point blade is one that is symmetrical from top to bottom & is mostly shaped like a dagger. The main difference between a spear point & a blade is a spear point will only be single-edged, while a dagger is double-edged. The edge in this context refers to the secondary level. The diagram shows just one possible way the blade could be ground. Many spearpoints are ground the same on the bottom edge as they are on the top. The important factor is that the actual shape of the blade is symmetrical, not the grind. Examples There was one point in my life where I thought I was going to be a professional college student. It felt like it was going to take me FOREVER to get my BS degree. It was at that time that I wanted to purchase a backpack that would last a long time.
Description   Clip point blades are very modern & found on everything from utility knives to hunting knives. The point is similar to a drop point shape, but with a clipped-out portion of the blade near the tip, that gives it a curving point. The lowers the point of the knife to give the user more control while retaining a decent sized belly for slashing. The clip point is one of the most classic knife patterns & is instantly recognizable in the Buck 110 or various traditional bowie knives. Modified Clip Point Sometimes you will see a classification of modified clip point used to describe a knife. Typically this is used when the knife is of a general clip point style, but not entirely recognizable as a clip point. Some general examples of modified clip points would be the Spyderco Endura & Spyderco Military. Clip Point Examples
Description The drop point is traditional blade shape pattern & is found a lot on modern tactical folding knives. It is a favorite among a lot of custom knifemakers as well. Makers such as Kirby Lambert & Greg Lightfoot have a couple of prime examples of a drop point. The general shape of the drop point is essentially where the spine of the back of the blade curves down slightly to meet the tip, where the tip is still noticeably higher than the midpoint of the edge, unlike a spearpoint where the tip is at the midpoint. Modified Drop Point Sometimes you will see modified clip point used to describe a knife. Typically this is used when the knife is of a general clip point style, but not entirely recognizable as a clip point. Some general examples of modified clip points would be the Spyderco Endura & Spyderco Military. Drop Point Examples
Description Trailing Point Blades are where the point of the blade is above the spine of the knife, usually creating an edge with a larger belly. Trailing Points are often seen on skinning & hunting knives. A fillet knife is also a perfect example of a trailing point blade. Trailing point knives are typically used for slashing or slicing, as opposed to piercing or stabbing. Trailing Point Examples
Description The dagger blade is asymmetrical blade like a spearpoint but slightly more pointy with less belly, & the grinds should be symmetrical. In some US States it is illegal to have a double-edged knife, so daggers are often found with an unsharpened top edge with no secondary bevel. Daggers are also usually characterized by the asymmetrical handle as well. Daggers tend to be less common than most other blade types & are usually used in ornamental knives used for display purposes. There are still a few creators that make a tactical use dagger such as Brian Tighe & &re DeVilliers. Some modern knife designs including the folding designs like the Tighe Die Dagger from Brian Tighedo do not have symmetrical grinds, but because of the thin pointy blade, symmetrical blade shape, & balanced handle, they could indeed still be classed as a Dagger in many ways. This is just one example of a modern modified blade pattern. Dagger Examples

Tanto blade is a bit of a misnomer, as it is not so satisfying a blade shape as it is a type of knife. The Japanese Tanto is the small knife, usually between 6-12 inches in blade length, with a large variety of blade shapes included some double-edged designs. The knife was conceived as a stabbing weapon, so they were usually designed with tip penetration in mind.

The Americanized Tanto is a different classification, & this page is here primarily to make that distinction. Japanese Tanto knives do not have the pointed tips that American Tantos do.

The example below is not of a good Japanese tanto. However, it gives a fairly precise representation of what a Japanese Tanto looks like. This is just one of the possible blade styles on a Japanese Tanto.

Tanto Examples

The American Tanto seldom called the Americanized or Westernized Tanto, is a newer blade format that was spread in the 80's by American knife company Cold Steel. In fact, the American Tanto pattern is apparently what put Cold Steel on the map, & made them as popular as they are today. The tip shape differs quite substantially from a traditional Japanese tanto blade, & as such, deserves its own separate entrance.

American tantos are claimed to be designed for the purpose of strengthening the tip of the blade, in practice, this is not necessarily the case. On an American tanto, the blade edge consists of two separate edges & has a pointed tip creating a trivial point that can be quite helpful for things like opening boxes. The fundamental American Tanto as Cold Steel made it consists of a hollow ground inner edge, with the tip edge saber ground for more strength. In this case, the peak would have more strength than if it were hollow ground, but the only cause is the different type of grind. This builds a cool looking blade grind combination that is the signature expression of the American Tanto.

Spyderco's Bob Lum Tanto folder does have increased tip strength as the angled front edge is not sharp, but a sort of dull convexed grind. Again, the reason for the stronger tip directly comes from the ability to have two separate kinds of primary grinds. In Emerson CQC-6 Chisel ground tanto, or the Benchmade Stryker Tanto, the tip proposes no real additional strength.

Being that this is a somewhat revised design, the American tanto comes in many different shapes & forms, with the spine of the blade sometimes straight, & sometimes curving down like a drop point. The primary component of the American tanto, however, is the second point with essentially two blade edges. In the examples below, you can see that the Strider SnG is essentially a single full flat ground blade with a secondary point, rather than two separate initial grinds like the other examples. The SnG, in this case, would not advantage from having a strengthened tip that is seldom associated with an American Tanto.

American Tanto Examples
Description A recurve isn't so much a blade shape as it is an edge feature. Any blade, such as a drop point, clip point, & even a hawkbill can have a recurve, so think of a recurve as not a st&alone blade shape, but a blade characteristic instead. A recurve is basically when the blade has something of an "S" shape in it, usually creating a big belly that helps the knife excel at slicing & chopping. The recurve also produces a bit of a forward angle on edge allowing an average drop point with a recurves to excel at draw-cuts. Sometimes you see Hawkbill blades with a recurve such as with the Spyderco Civilian, Cricket, & Dodo. As you may have guessed, they are a favorite of Spyderco. Larger knives can benefit from the extra weight on the blade creating by a recurve making them much choppers, such as with a Khukri or some recurve Machetes. Recurves are also very common with custom makers lately with some big guns like Ken Onion making nothing but recurve knives, & traditional tactical manufacturers like Kirby Lambert who's newest 3-4 designs have all been recurved folders. Recurve Blade Examples    

The Hawksbill blade is a hook-shaped blade with a concave belly, that is suitable for cutting textiles, rope or even shrubbery. A lot of marine or sailing knives are made with hawkbill blades for the ease of cutting nylon rope as the blade shape prevents the line from slipping. Other applications of these shapes of blade include cutting carpet & even self-defense, especially at close quarters. The Karambit is a good example of a hawksbill self-defense knife. While the Hawksbill knife blade has many uses, it also has many disadvantages. Push-cuts & slicing are difficult as the blade shape gets in the way, so the only real use for a hawksbill blade is a draw-cut.

Many major knife companies & custom knifemakers have built at least one hawksbill style knife, though they do not tend to be overly simplified. Some of the more popular models would be the SpydercoHarpy/Merlin & the various Kerambit offerings.

Hawkbill Blade Examples
Description The Wharncliffe blade, not to be confused with the sheepsfoot blade, is very much like a st&ard blade shape turned upside down. This type of blade has a flat cutting edge, & the spine of the blade drops gradually until the tip forms a point. There are a few stories as to how the name Wharncliffe came to be, with some people claiming that the pattern originated many years ago from some of the models used for Sc&inavian Seax Knives & others claiming that it came from a British Lord who commanded the knife to be made. There is one thing that is for sure there were several Lord Wharncliffes that the blade shape could have been named after, but the actual name "Wharncliffe" did not exist before 1822, which means it was named after that point in history. Regardless of history, the Wharncliffe is an advantageous blade shape. It is excellent for office folk for opening boxes & envelopes & excels in box-cutter type chores. It is not perfect for preparing food & skinning as the lack of a belly makes it difficult for cutting soft tissue & using on a cutting board. Sheepsfoot, Coping, or Wharncliffe? Some other confusing things regarding the Wharncliffe blade are the differences between this blade shape & the Coping blade & the Sheepsfoot blade. There is a lot of discrepancies in naming by companies & which blade is which. It is accepted that a Sheepsfoot blade has an abruptly curving spine at the tip of the knife, creating the tiny point, like a Spyderco Rescue knife, while a Wharncliffe has a more gradually tapering spine creating a pointier tip, & consequently more fragile. A coping blade is infrequently seen in anything besides multi-blade slip joints & was designed for Electricians to use for cutting details, with the weak point allowing for maximum tip control. Occasionally you will see single bladed slip joints with a coping blade marketed as Electricians Knives. Wharncliffe Blade Examples
Description The sheepsfoot blade is a rounded tip & flat edge, & is commonly seen with rescue knives such as the Spyderco Rescue as the lack of a point makes them safer to use in proximity to persons needed to be freed from seatbelts or rope. Sheepsfoot blades are sometimes confused with Wharncliffes, which are similar but have a more pronounced point. Sheepsfoot blades are not that common & tend to be used for specific purposes, usually where having a point on the knife could be dangerous . There are some varieties out there now with modified sheepsfoot blades that have a curved blade, with the recognizably blunt sheepsfoot tip. This is almost more of a santoku style blade & does have its uses. The Marzitelli example below is almost a halfway design between a sheepsfoot & a Wharncliffe but could be safely called a sheepsfoot. Sheepsfoot Blade Examples
Description Spey blades are a sort of clip point blade which has a very obtuse angle on the clip part leading to a very short-bellied blade almost resembling an oyster-shucking knife with a portion cut out of it. This blade type is quite uncommon & usually only observed on trapper-type knives. The blade was basically used for neutering or "spying" livestock or animals. It is now rarely seen or used aside from being found on the knives above. It is almost never seen on single bladed knives as a primary cutting edge. Spey Blade Examples
Description A combination of two blade types, "Spear Point" & "Tanto" - together you get "Spanto." , and used widely in his knives, it is an attractive and useful blade shape. The Spanto resembles a Tanto blade mostly, but with the overall shape of a spearpoint. This makes it a very versatile blade in that it has a typical curve and belly of a spear point, but with the thicker overall blade and stronger tip characteristic of Tanto It's a fantastic EDC blade, especially for harder-use EDC type of situations. The blade is quite straight, and not tapered like most blade shapes, so it's not the most efficient slicer. Spanto Blade Examples
Description A Nightmare grind is not a grind, but a blade feature, like a recurve. The Nightmare grind is an extra grind that is done by Strider to some of their custom MSC or DDC models. It resembles an edgewise hollow grind taken out of the core of the blade edge creating sort of a hook or recurve depending on how the grind is done. The Tom Brown Tracker knife from TOPS has a similar feature. According to Mick Strider, the Nightmare grind is named as such because it is a Nightmare to Grind. Some of the nightmare grind models have two nightmare grinds overlapping, which creates a unique look. Allen Elishewitz's Horus & Anubis folder designs for CRKT both have what is essentially a Strider Nightmare Grind as well. Examples of Nightmare Grind :::

Allen Elishewitz's Horus


Description There are two main types of Reverse Tanto. The first is the reverse tanto that was popularized by Warren Osborne with his designs for Benchmade Knives. It is not a very familiar shape & resembles a Spey Blade. Technically it should be called a Reverse American Tanto. The second kind of reverse tanto is from Bob Dozier that more looks like a reverse Drop Point. An Osborne reverse tanto is an American Tanto blade turned upside down, so the angular side is on the top, making the knife look like it has a very drastic drop point. Aside from looks, I can see no real purpose besides its unique look to the Osborne style reverse tanto. The point sits at about the level of a spear point, & I would think in working use the performance nearly equal with possibly a slightly stronger tip due to the extra material. A Dozier reverse tanto has no bent corners, but rather looks something like a Santoku. It does have a markedly different feel than other blade shapes. On the Dozier, the point is much lower than the midpoint as with a spearpoint, so there are some differences as you would have better tip control than a spearpoint, but slightly less belly - like the halfway point between a spear point & a Wharncliffe blade. In general, there is no actual rule with reverse tantos. Several other makers have made styles similar to both Osborne's & Dozier's opposite tantos, but with varying differences including the location of the tip so none of these things are concrete. In fact, Osborne's Benchmade 921 design resembles Dozier's version of a Reverse Tanto, but he calls it a Modified Wharncliffe. Reverse Tanto Examples
Description Santokus are knives typically utilized in the kitchen by Japanese Chefs. It is a common utility knife, derived from the French chef's knife, & has been modified to be more effective for Japanese Cuisine. The Santoku is typically about an inch shorter than an equivalent chef's knife & has a sheepsfoot-like tip, with a slightly curved blade edge. Santokus are not seen much on tactical or sporting cutlery but are becoming more & more popular in western kitchens with most complete kitchen knife sets including at least one Santoku. Note that westernized Santokus are slightly different than more traditional Japanese ones. Santoku Blade Examples

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