How much blade do you really use?


February 16, 2008, 02:45 PM

Yes I know about tools for tasks.
I am the one that goes on about "fit" around here, so "knife fit", I understand.


How much blade does one really use?

The handle is really more important than the blade length and size if one really thinks about safety, control, ergonomics (i.e a butcher on a 8-12 hours shift) and comfort.

Surgeon Scalpels, for instance have more handle, than steel.
Hand carving / Whittling knives they too with wood handles long, and custom contoured, with carbon steel blades less than 2" long, some only 1/2" long.

A knife, is designed to cut, and to do so very well.

Growing up, I recall all this, and while times have changed in some respects, it really has not.
Folks are more "industrialized" or less rural than they used to be.

Some days the most taxing task a knife gets used for by some is cutting a thread, or opening a letter.

Doctors and Surgeons, including Veterinarians, and nurses, I grew up with, they always kept knife on person and always a knife in the Doctor's Bag.
Small knife, usually 2 5/8 to 2 7/8" closed length.

I recall emergencies, and these folks using these knives, like emergency tracheotomies, or something in a barn a Vet does.

Even still, Doctors and Surgeons, including Veterinarians, and Nurses, carry a small , sharp pen knife.

I've been trout fishing with these folks and cleaned all the trout with these small knives. No bigger than 2 7/8", and some just a SAK Classic.

They did the same thing with game birds, waterfowl, small game, and even deer.
I just knew there was no way to take care of a Spike buck as a kid with a small pen-knife, this mentor shot with his .38spl revolver, just sitting on the tailgate of the truck.
He was a doctor, and by golly he did it!
Just a kid I was and I was wide eyed and taking all this in.

Funny, a few of these folks keep a disposable scalpel handy, and they will use these for fish and game, do food prep, and whatever a knife is for.
Being in scrubs all the time, they just got used to not carrying a bunch of stuff and using what little they did have.

Yes some things of late made me think of all this again.

Some of my mentors were in places where concealed meant concealed, checkpoints and other serious things, so a small amount of blade is what they used, survived serious situations.

I was reminded of Chuck Yeager, and his knife for extended trips he and his buddy hiked into for golden trout, a 3" knife , the SAK Executive, is all they used for everything while camping...

Just thinking out loud...


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February 16, 2008, 02:58 PM
Well, I recently made a salad with a 2 3/4" sodbuster.

I've prepped dinner with 3-inch and 3.5-inch blades.

The only time it gets awkward is when cutting things that are wide enough that you have to "work" the cut, rather than just slice.

I would rather not try to slice a roast with a penknife. In fact, I generally like about six or seven inches of blade at least when I'm doing "carving duty" on a beef or ham or gobbler.

Most other things I can do with four inches or less.

Longer can be handy for certain things.

Doesn't mean I can't get it done with less blade, just not as convenient.

I even have a Finnish whittler (odd little thing, I'll have to post a picture) with a 2.5-inch blade, of which only two inches is sharpened. The handle is a square stick of wood, about four inches long. When it's got the blade cover on, it doesn't look remotely like a knife, just a seven-or-eight inch stick of wood on a leather thong.

I don't think I'd even consider trying to do a meaningful job of whittling with a knife over 4 inches. Could I? Yeah, I reckon. Let me choose? I'll take that little 2 or 2.5-inch blade over there, thanks.

Actually, in my set of X-Acto knives, I don't think I have any blade (except the mini-saw) that's over an inch or inch-and-a-half. And I've done all my serious carving with blades that size.

February 16, 2008, 03:49 PM

You know me, I have my convictions.

Just passing forward as passed to me, and some folks I run with are having fun being passed to.
The older I get the more I understand why my mentors grinned as they did.
I'm getting a kick out of "light bulbs" going off and seeing folks grin and have a good time.

Life is cyclic, and some of these folks are not old enough to have gone through some cycles yet, while some are, and some have.

*sniff* "My knife is not as big as theirs" said the little lady with small pen-knife.
I had my small knife and showed her.
"Oh yeah, I forgot, still..."

Little Lady and I, did our part just fine, actually better than some others.

Little ladies sure do give great hugs, and have great smiles. *wink*

WE de-boned a chicken, and made homemade chicken salad (my secret recipe).
We made a small tee-pee shelter using part of a tarp, and then a pup tent, using a inexpensive poncho.

Other things, and we used the smallest knives of anyone.

"Yeah, and we had the coolest chicken salad spreader thing made from a little branch too".

At this point, until I get the rubber for the sling shot fork we made, that chicken salad spreader thingie is pretty darn cool!

"MoOm! Can we buy a really big salmon? A whole one. Uncle Steve says if you get one, he will show me how to make salmon steaks with my littler knife ?"


Work with here, I am just trying to pass forward is all...honest!


February 16, 2008, 04:07 PM
I like my knives the way I like my women... sharp. :D

Neither has to be big or little, or any particular color or shape. They both must, however, be sharp.

February 16, 2008, 04:08 PM
I like a knife with more handle than blade - it's why I make my Small Skinner. 2 1/4" blade, 5 handle, will handle anything from squirrel to Elk. :)

February 16, 2008, 05:54 PM

That Small Skinner of yours is such neat knife! *grin*

Thanks for posting that picture and sharing the specifications.

Pax Jordana
February 17, 2008, 12:28 AM
I got this question wrong on a badge quiz for Pioneer Club (think boy scouts for jesus) one night.

We're looking at a picture of four people, and one's got a chainsaw, the other's got an axe, the third has a hatchet and the last has a pocket knife.

If each of these three people cut down a tree, who is the most powerful?

"THE GUY WITH THE CHAINSAW" I said! It seemed so obvious.

It's alright though, they let you re-test on the spot in pioneer club. :D

Yeah, I've got a folder made of of space steel with ti-carbon-CroMoly-ChuckNorrisBeardHair hardening matrix, and yeah, it's a foot long when you snap it open. You know how many times I've carried it outside my house? Twice.

That sodbuster'll do the same job (for less money!) if only you're willing to use a little finesse.. And it doesn't stick out of your pocket or look like you're trying to steal a hot dog.

Spartan son says, father, my sword is too short and it will not reach.
Spartan father says, my son, your sword is long enough to reach if you would only stand a little further forward.
Yeah, I took that from the internet but it just sounds so pithy!

February 17, 2008, 01:05 AM
How much blade do you really use? For the most part the first 3 inches or less, which will gut a deer or elk or clean a fish. Filleting one can use more but well over 90 plus % of field or home use is the first inch or three.
How often does that second 3 inches of that six inch knife get used in the field or your kitchen for that matter? Unless chopping veggies with a different kinda knife entirely, cutting steaks from a rib roast, or maybe if your one of them guys that chop kindling with you knife.

February 17, 2008, 01:25 AM
I agree about "just enough" blade. :)

I carried a little SOG Flash II with a 2.5" blade for about a year. It had enough blade but the handle was too small for my taste. My wife now carries it.

Now I carry a Benchmade Mini Griptilian with a 2.9" blade. I really like the handles on it and it fits my hand much better than the SOG.

February 17, 2008, 01:28 AM
This is probably one of the five oddest knives I own.


It ships in a little slim cardboard sleeve with nothing on it but a picture of the knife, the name of the maker, and the town in Finland.

Basically a scalpel masquerading as a whittling tool.

Hunks of timber quake in terror at the sight of this thing.

Okay, maybe not.


February 17, 2008, 02:06 AM

That is not a "odd" knife. Not to me anyway.
Quite a few folks carried/ still carry a simple whittling knife, with a carbon steel blade not as long as the one you have pictured.

Trust me, they do know how to use that knife!

February 17, 2008, 03:54 AM
Valkman, not that I can afford it, but how much would that skinner cost from you?

In terms of daily use, I realyl can do just fine with a relatively small blade. My latest EDC knife is a Boker Subclaw, and it works fine. WIth that being said, I still prefer my Fox Predator II for EDC overall, but the reality is that it's quite a bit of overkill for what the average day requires. Frankly Steve, you have gotten me thinking about a Case, but I really like a pocket clip...

February 17, 2008, 05:32 AM
Those run $100 and a sheath from Lifter's Leather is $45. :)

February 17, 2008, 07:44 AM
Even in life threatening situations, I am a little more comfortable on average with my bare hands then with a blade, so I carry a knife strictly for utility purposes. Anything under 6 inches of blade length isn't much of a killer in my book, especially compared to crushing someones throat in an instant with a hand grapple or a palm pound to the temple. There still are plenty of situations that would get me to draw and use a knife in combat, but very small compared to those where use of my hands is sufficient.
Likewise, while maximum combat efficiency is an issue for me, it's not at all defining in my choice of blade. My choice of blade is something that is functional, meaning it won't fall apart easy, has indefinite life if kept up, holds a good strong edge, extremely sharp, well balanced, well tuned and made of good materials. At the moment, I am making my own knife out of 3 inch x somewhere between 1/8 and 5/32 thick true Damascus (a variation of wootz steel) with a long clam shell bevel, final sharpening on a 1200 grit wheel covered in Jeweler's Rouge, lock knife opening and traditional closing, dovetail furniture attachment, cocobolo grips and either 440 stainless or spring steel frame and heat treated with Metal Science's Therma Cycle.
Doing the same out of O-1 or S-7 would work great too, and that's for something really dynamite that you won't have to worry about replacing for a long time (I have seen an S-7 samurai sword chop a 440 Stainless Samurai sword in half and heard an account of someone using an S-7 pocket knife to twiddle a 440 Stainless pocket knife down to a spine. These blades can be given a surgical edge and still hold up unlike most factory blades.

February 17, 2008, 04:15 PM
huh.... I can't afford it right this second, but thats considerably less than I would have thought. Perhaps at some point this year I will have the spare funds. I really like the design, and I really like the aesthetics.

February 17, 2008, 04:57 PM
I think that blade width is more important than blade length. Most small blades are too narrow to be useful. IMHO, Valkman's Small Skinner would make a great EDC knife...even better than most folders...with the right carry sheath.

2-4" is more than enough for most daily uses....

Brian Dale
February 17, 2008, 05:13 PM
For me, it doesn't have to be big. I need enough handle for good control.

It has to be sharp.

February 28, 2008, 02:44 PM
It's completely true that you can get by with just a little in most cases. However, there is plenty that is easier to do with a bigger blade. I carry a 5 1/2 blade all day every day with a few exceptions when I carry a 2" blade. The 5 1/2 incher gets most jobs done faster and easier. The smaller blade works in a pinch. I have a trailmaster bowie knife that is one heck of a tool, but it's illegal to carry in these parts and honestly I wouldn't be carrying it to church, etc. But if I could, I would keep the trailmaster in my vehicle for easy access because it's a better tool for a lot things. So instead I carry a sharpened shovel in vehicle.

I'm not too excited about cutting brush with a 2" knife.

All that said, I agree that the smaller knifes are adequate for most jobs.:)

February 28, 2008, 03:22 PM
I keep thinking about buying one of these new unobturanium bladed, space shuttle heat shield polymer, thumb flicker, toad stabbers, but still seem to carry a 30 year old Buck 3 bladed folder. Field dressed several mule deer and a couple of elk, cut twine, whittled, peeled apples, cleaned and trimmed fingernails, opened abcesses on livestock. I can't help it, it's just in my pocket and it works. Feel nekkid without it. :D

February 28, 2008, 03:45 PM
One of my favorite knives is a Case yellow handled with CV blade Slim Line Trapper.
I have carried a Peanut and Slimline since I was a kid, along with other styles, still these two would be my top favorites and most carried and used.

I have been out for weeks, with only this Trapper knife, in Canada, canoing and portaging.
For a few days to a few weeks on a survival lesson thing.

I cannot carry that knife in many circles I once did.

Legal blade length is 3 1/2" inches here.

Some places now restrict a knife not be a locking type, and total knife length not be over 3".

UK restrictions are being implemented in the private sector here in the USA.
Not just the Airport, Gov't building, from county, city, state and federal .

Private Sectors...are implementing this. If one is on campus or using a vehicle, that is theirs, you are under the regulations.

One is out in a vehicle and still under a non-locking, under 3" knife.
This is why I have advocated folk not put everything into physical things, and instead skill sets to use what they have/can have.

Retail - here is one and I am seeing and hearing this more and more.
An employee will be fired if they use a personal knife - period.
It does not matter what kind, a tactical or traditional, if they reach into their pocket to show another employee, or customer, or use that knife, they can be fired.

Two reasons are given, as I asked.

1. Health Safety Officer implemented for Employee Safety and Insurance.
An employee will use tools company has for a task. Box cutters, shears, and other tools. If one is an Electrician, that knife has to be approved or issued type.

2. Folks were not taking out a knife, opening it, using it, and putting it back.
They were "whipping it out fast and acting a fool".
Some cut themselves, or others, or something in the work place.
Work was not getting done, as folks were playing with knives, and wasting too much time with knives.

3. WE have some criminals here that do look for clip on knives on persons.
They know by the clip, what kind of knife. They read folks, and they can tell a drywall worker with a Super Knife, from a CCW.
They target the folks with CCW and take their guns.

I have been fussed at in regard to "advertising" and folks need to "blend in".
Some companies ...well...some are gun friendly, some are not, and some do not want employees "pegged" , "stereotyped" or "publicly representing" the company.

Gun friendly ones, suggest toning it down , not use a clip, and not get made.
Others are paying attention to other employees and it is encouraged one snitch.
If that person has a certain knife, it invited nosy folks to wonder if they have guns, on person or in the parking lot.

None of this is new, in fact has been going on a long time.
History repeats itself and again folks acting and carrying on as they do, mess it up for everyone.

Switchblades were originally for ladies so they would not mess up nails and for safety reasons to assist with mom's and kids.

Some youths got to acting a fool, and going on - overboard.
The switchblade was associated with a certain behavior and activity.

Assisted opening is being defined by some private companies and they are not allowed in the workplace.

Buck 110 is fine, and these can be opened fast.
The folks that have these do not do so, or use that knife in a "foolish way".

Leeks are some other knives are now off limits in some places...

A little blade is a good thing to know how to use.
It might be all one has in a setting , or while out in a company car.

Folks did all this to themselves - more than anti's did in many situations.

February 28, 2008, 04:03 PM
You need a big knife, and a little knife, when it comes to all tasks, to "git 'er done".

Kukuris traditionally come with both a small steel (chakma) to reprofile/sharpen blade and a small (karda) utility knife. Good system.

When you need a big blade, you NEED a big blade.

Brian Dale
February 28, 2008, 04:14 PM
When you need a big blade, you NEED a big blade.I have some: axes, a good kitchen cleaver, a chef's knife, Green River skinners...

I don't carry them around. :)

February 28, 2008, 08:23 PM
I have one with 3-inch blades.

February 28, 2008, 08:24 PM
Originally Posted by JShirley
When you need a big blade, you NEED a big blade.

I know that.

Just sometimes one cannot have a big blade.
That is why me and mine that run together and have to be in restricted areas carry Peanuts.

Electrical tape and we can make one big blade <taps head>


February 29, 2008, 04:36 AM
I use my Glock M78 in the Kitchen, when cutting meat, opening cans
opening or cutting anything..... and it´s not like there
aren´t a couple of designated Kitchen knives around :)

...there´s alway a very slim Herbertz Fishermen-knife
in my pocket. I use it often to save time, while others
run about looking for scissors.

cheers from germany.

February 29, 2008, 04:58 AM
Some of us have been known to throw the Glock field knife, back in the day...

February 29, 2008, 05:20 AM
Haven't read page 1 yet (long, long day),
but interested in the concept.


First thoughts:

The amount of blade I use depends on the job.

If I'm cutting the stems out of
collard greens, I use the tip (0.01").

If I'm trimming down a fresh cut toothpick,
or trimming excess fabric, I'll use 1".

If I'm cutting kindling for a fire, I'll chop/saw with 2 - 4"
(depending on whether using Benchmade Osborne (edc) or longer fixed blade).

Then again, we must consider blade runners,
who will use as much blade as they have.

Dave McCracken
February 29, 2008, 09:12 AM
My EDCs include a tiny Gerber Wave with a 2" blade. It's quite a tool.

I also use either a Bucklite, same blade as the 110 in a synthetic handle or a Puma folder in 3" that a friend gave me.

My EDD ("Every Day Driver) has a folding saw, a machete, entrenching tool and a Pakistani slip joint 3" with better steel than most.

The little Gerber gets the most use.

February 29, 2008, 10:05 AM
For anyone considering buying one, Valkman's skinner is top notch and worth every penny. It actually feels like it was custom designed for my hand.

daniel (australia)
March 1, 2008, 08:21 AM
My every day knife is usually a Victorinox Hiker, which is a handy and versatile tool, or sometimes a little stockman knife like the Uncle Henry that was in my pocket today while I was doing some yard work.

Sometimes though I really do feel the need for something bigger for a specific task. I'm much faster and handier in the kitchen with my 8" chef's knife for example, and for boning out a deer I'll have my 6" Wenger boner thanks. Sure I could do without if I really had to, but sometimes bigger just works. In fact just last weekend I was using a sword to cut back the Bougainvillea out the back - its thorny stuff, hard to get close to...and anyway it was just asking for it:evil:.

March 1, 2008, 12:25 PM
Unless I'm slicing a roast, I very rarely need a blade longer than my index finger, and can usually do just fine with a blade half that length. That is, about 2.5 - 3" is about all I really ever need.

March 1, 2008, 08:31 PM
Watermelons, folks! Watermelons! That's when you want that 14" knife. Doesn't have to be terribly sharp, but it does need to have a symmetrical blade or it'll wander into a curve instead of cutting straight.

March 1, 2008, 08:39 PM

Where you from? Oregon? *wink*

You don't use the Old Hickory Butcher knife to cut a Watermelon!

That Butcher knife if for hog killing time, and doing garden work, and cleaning light brush and "pruning the rose bushes"...and

JShirley knows, then again he ain't from Oregon...

Watermelon tastes best when busted on porch steps, tailgate of a truck, edge of a picnic table, ...

We do stuff different in da South!

Using a hog killing knife on a watermelon *shakes head* no wonder folks are in the shape they are now-a-days...


Art & Science to this melon busting too...

March 2, 2008, 12:45 AM
Just to cause trouble I'll confess to what I carry most days lately: I USED to carry a 7" D2/Ti Darrel Ralph Maxx folder in my front jeans pocket,it just barely went out of sight. Now I carry a 7" NON FOLDER Mad Dog 3/16" Voodoo Hound that weighs the same but peeks an inch or two of handle handily out of the pants pocket when carried blade forward (for an "icepick" draw) . In my life's experience a 7" blade is the minimum comfortable length in dangerous situation.Sure I use and carry shorter (and longer) blades for specialized uses.

March 2, 2008, 12:54 AM

<chuckle> Listen you shoot the deer with the A5 and clean with your knife, I'll shoot quail with a 28 gauge and dress them with my wittle Peanut.

Venison and Quail make for nice "survival meal". Deal?


Heck b/t you and JShirley I don't need a knife, I'll make the coffee and get the table ready and all...

March 2, 2008, 01:08 AM
Watermelons don't grow in Oregon ... yet.

But give it a little more time ...

March 2, 2008, 01:31 AM
Old picture ( (Fall 03 or Spring 04), but one of my favorites.

Not really on topic, but Steve, this one's for you...

March 2, 2008, 02:09 AM
Watermelons don't grow in Oregon ... yet.

But give it a little more time ...
My neighbor is growin' some in his backyard right now...

March 2, 2008, 02:13 AM
Watermelons don't grow as well in Oregon as they do in the south.

Especially in February.

March 2, 2008, 10:41 AM
File change date and time: 2004:12:09 00:59:56
Image input equipment manufacturer: Canon
Image input equipment model: Canon EOS 10D
If the time settings on the camera are right, you guys were up late shooting that.

December 2004, it seems.

Nice theme.

March 4, 2008, 08:31 AM
. . . the first one . . .
File change date and time: 2004:05:17 23:35:11
Image input equipment manufacturer: SONY
Image input equipment model: DSC-P10
So, yes, Spring of 2004.

(Although the camera clock is clearly off.)

March 4, 2008, 12:02 PM
My opinion is pretty much the same for knife blades. I like them under 4".

Sure there is room in my life for larger blades, but most everything I do is with a shorter blade. Give me a good puukko and I will die happy.

March 6, 2008, 05:50 PM
When I'm hunting it's a 6" Randall. When I'm helping cut up a whale, it's my 9 1/2" Trail Master (yes, I am an Eskimo, why do you ask?) For my everyday carry and use it's a Goddard Spyderco and a Leatherman wave, but the Spyderco will likely be replaced soon with a Chris Reeve SMALL Sebenza.

Of all my kitchen knives (about 10 Henckels and 1 Cold Steel) the ones that get the most use by far are the 4" Henckels parers. That doesn't count the 3 Old Hickory knives that hang on the wall because they remind me that my Mom is still watchin' over me when I cook. I still miss Mom.

Brian Dale
March 6, 2008, 06:14 PM
When I'm helping cut up a whale...Folks, I think we have a winner. :D

Urbana John
March 6, 2008, 06:25 PM
If you have seen the movie "The Predator" with Arnold, Jesse the Body and that Bad Ass Indian----the scene where the Indian throws away his rifles, tears off his shirt, and grabs his looooong ass blade and goes after the Predator. THAT's the knife/blade I want!!!!
Anyone know where I can get it??
Thanks UJ

March 6, 2008, 07:22 PM
...the movie "The Predator" ...THAT's the knife/blade I want!!!!
Anyone know where I can get it??

try here ( although it's not one of the original knives made by Jack Crain (

March 6, 2008, 11:26 PM
For considerably less, perhaps you might want to try the HI Crow. Here's mine (

(The spots are from the VERY persistent oil used to coat the blades in shipping. It takes a while to get it all off!) Anyway, my Crow is close to 19" OAL, and a real tool/brute. Check out the Himalayan Imports forum on


March 6, 2008, 11:49 PM
Depends what I'm doing. Those walking sticks that I make are done completely and exclusively with a standard Leatherman tool. My favorite knife for camping, especially winter camping is my Cold Steel Recon. It has enough heft in that 3/8 blade to chop small branches (especially with the proper wrist-whip) for starting a campfire, opening cans, etc. Knives are like can't have too many. A close second that I favor is my K-Bar. Now that's a knife! Gotta love those leather-disk handles.

For me, it is more a matter of blade weight than blade length. I always prefer a 7"+ blade for any serious activity. For me, the single most important attribute is the blade ability to take and to hold it edge under irrational abuse. I only wants knives that I can put literally a razor's edge and be able to shaving with it. I have actually done that with my axe too. Alas I drift. I love a good piece of steel.

This is a great thread! Thanks all.

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