Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blade Thickness

I've just been looking over at the BCUK forums and some of the stuff about knives there comes across as a little crazy. Lots of people seem to see 4mm as a minimum thickness for bushcraft knives without much justification. I think Ray Mears' Woodlore is this width so maybe that is why.
The Leuku I have is only 3mm thick, yet I wouldn't hesitate pounding or battoning it. Why? Because 3mm is still pretty solid and as the knife blade is 30mm deep there is still a lot of material there to add strength.
The Mora knives are another good example - they are typically between 2 and 3mm thick yet I've not read about anyone breaking one. On the other hand I built a knife using a Lapplander 90 blade which was 4mm thick and found it wasn't great at cutting through things and it really hasn't had a lot of use as a result.
When you read the old woods writers like Kephart and Nessmuk the word thin tends to be one of the key features. As both were exponents of using an axe I guess they seldom batoned a knife but I feel their wisdom still holds true. I've also seen videos of Mors Kochanski quite happily pounding and battoning a plastic handled Mora too.
Knives are cutting tools first and foremost and for me a thinner knife cuts better. If you really need your knife to be so thick then think about how you are using it.


Torjus Gaaren said...

I agree, the only reason to have a thick blade is that you are so rough with it that you break it. There is of course a lower limit to practicality, since you do want to have it strong enough to do the things you mention. And if it is longer and doubles as a machete, you need a thicker blade.

Thinner blade = deeper cuts

Michael Pettet said...

yI also have to agree. Because of your earlier post on large knives I have been looking into the Lapp knives. Helle has one that is only as thick as a regular Mora. Many of the American "trade knives" are only as thick as one- sixteenth of an inch, much like a kitchen knife. Any one has had experience butchering game knows the utility of a thin blade. The old timers were right: an axe is for chopping and splitting, your knive is for the other tasks.

Personally, I have an axe, a hatchet, a good knife, 3 mills thick, and a good pocket knife. In a good many years of trapsing around the woods it has been the rare occasion that I would need to split wood with a knife other than that required in making projects or camp accessories. Where I come from there is a saying: "the bigger the knife, the bigger the fool."

Sorry for the mini-rant. Love your site. Keep the good stuff coming. Michael.

Pablo said...

Couldn't agree more. 2-3mm is ample, especially if you bring an axe along. I've handled a woodlore and in my opinion it's far too bulky and thick (and heavy too).