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Knives - Form Vs. Function

Discussion in 'Design' started by ToddR, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    Hi all. This may seem like a bit of an oddball question but, does anybody have any good sites linked (or any information ) that describes different knife styles? I'm not talking about drop point vs. sheeps foot etc., i have info on those and diagrams etc. I mean things like what makes a skinner a skinner? I have seen skinning knives that are long and think with a curved blade and others that are shorter and wider with a big bell on them. I know they're likely for different animals etc. but there are similar style questions with "hunters" and "camp knives". What makes a camp knife different from a survival knife, or a tactical knife different from a a hunting knife.

    My issue is that right now i am really just playing with my designs and having fun. I'm not making anything specific and, although i am starting to build my standard "portfolio" of knives, i still really just wing my sketches. Up until now, no two knives have resembled each other (starting to change - i've found my first "standard" offering i think). Many times i just draw out what pops into my head directly onto the steel. Because of this, i end up with a lot of knives that i have to label afterwards. I have been using "hunter" and "survival" knives as catch all descriptions but I'd like to offer something more specific.

    Does anybody have any information or reading that may help me out?
     
  2. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    A long curve that never presents a tip to the meat or skin and causing nicks is what is needed in a skinner and how this is achieved varies from maker to maker.

    I have often thought of making a chart titled Bowie knife and it would start with a stiletto, karambit and end with a butter knife. Everything is a Bowie knife these days.

    Off to look, this is an interesting question
     
  3. Brad

    Brad Active Member

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    My take is form follows function. How a knife works is more important to me than what it looks like. Now that don't mean you are stuck with only one type of blade style. My boar spear is an example in the extreme. That spear will probably never be used on a boar or anything else. However I thermal cycled it, hardened and tempered it. I even went hotter in my temper cycle to make a tougher blade. So while it looks like a spear more importantly it will function as a spear.

    As to a skinning knife I have skinned deer and cattle with everything from a buck folder, kbar to a proper skinning knife. The point is you can get by with anything.

    Draw and make what you like test it a bunch and enjoy the process
     
  4. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    samuel orisio likes this.
  5. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    Thanks Brad. I agree with you. But, i have this unique problem. I won't really use most of the knives i make but i really want somebody to. I know i should be making them for a purpose and i hope they do get used by whomever ends up with them. But my situation is a bit reversed. I seem to be starting with something i just think looks interesting (or in at least two cases - it's what i was left with after fixing some mistakes) and i really have no idea how they're used. I've never skinned anything and don't think i ever will. But i would love to be able to make a skinner for my oldest brother who never buys meat in a store. I'm just looking for some standard features that a good skinner has. If they make the knife more usable, I should put them in there.

    I guess what it comes down to is the Todd's two rules of knife making; (or at least they're rules i imposed on myself when i started goofing around with this whole thing) NOTE: these are my rules for me and are just my opinion. I don't mean to offend or comment on anybody else's process...

    1. making a tool that is never used makes no sense to me. I don't want to make art. Frankly, i'm not good enough anyway. I just feel like a knife that is never used (at least in my league) doesn't really have a purpose (unless it's art - some of the stuff i've seen on this site i'd consider art for sure)
    2. have fun with the design and do something different. I do want to make functional knives, for sure. This is not a knock on how anybody else does things at all but, for me, i don't want to use somebody else's pattern, trace it out and make a knife that already exists. I know that a good pattern is a good idea for making a good tool over and over. But I really want do do something different. It's hard because there's a lot of people making knives these days. I also don't want it to be so over the top different that it's not usable (breaking rule #1)

    Anyway, that's my dilemma. Torn between wanting to be creative and wanting to make something useful.

    Thanks Brad. I appreciate the input.
     
  6. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    Thanks for the info (and the URL) John. I've been reading Jay's info for awhile now. I can be overly academic about things when i get into them : ) Thanks for the info about the skinner. This is exactly the kind of info i'm looking for. Never having skinned anything, i have no idea what sort of features would make a knife better at skinning. Ideally, i'd like to compile a table of feature for at least 4 or 5 of the most "common" knives i make anyway. Right now i'm really just making blades with sharp edges. They all look sort of different and i don't know what to call them. I mean i have model names that i'm tossing around, i'm really having more fun with that than i should be. But if i had to write a description for one of them, i wouldn't know which branch of the knife family it most closely resembles.

    Thanks again. I love that you guys don't mind all my questions.
     
  7. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    It might be interesting to compile data on types of knives and to look at design factors in each case. But in the end, a knife is a knife, and we tend to use the knife we have for the job at hand.

    If you really want to make a skinning knife for your brother, ask him what's important to him. Some people like a long, thin blade that can flex. Others like a rounder, short bladed knife because it gives them more control. It's really down to the individual using it.

    Unless you're making single-purpose knives, or those based on well-known or traditional designs, I think best practice is to make something that is comfortable, well-balanced, and sharp. People will always find good uses for knives like that.
     
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