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Specialized blade shapes, thoughts and opinions please.

Discussion in 'Darrel Ralph (DDR) Custom Knives & DRT Tactical' started by Dirk, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. Dirk

    Dirk Moderator Moderator

    Mar 19, 1999
    I have read some posts recently on various topics and it made me think about how people here view specialized or niche blade shapes. You know, hawk bills, skinners, ulu, etc. Obviously, they do well for their intended task but, do you see them serving any other purpose? Can a hawkbill do anything other than "cut carpet"? Is the ulu condemned to food prep? Would you carry a hawkbill for a true edc, not just an occasional "it's cool to have" blade?

    In my mind, hawkbills and small wharncliff's are some of the best utility knives for day to day tasks. Most hawkbills come to nice acute point that permit some finer cutting. If the blade is of the correct shape you can even choke up on it comfortably. Same thing with a wharncliff. Plus, it is pretty easy to sharpen. And for self defense, I believe the wharncliff and a large number of hawkbills are the best design for smaller blades used for the task.
  2. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    I always viewed karambits and hawkbills as pretty much equals. I'd def carry either. I agree with a smaller blade profile for those coupled with a really good grip. Wharnies are great too but I don't have a desire to own one. If I want a wharncliff I'll grab the cheapest OTF known the man, the Stanley knife.
  3. Fullmonte


    Apr 3, 2012
    I actually do carry a hawkbill every single day. I have a tiny victorinox hawkbill and for 90% of what I use a knife for on a daily basis (opening, food prep ect...) I find it to be superior. The point slides right through whatever I need to cut like nothing. My only gripe id that in my experience the tips seem to dull rather quickly. I actually use an ulu a lot too. I like the more precise cuts you can get being that close to the blade.
  4. TheBleedingEdge


    Apr 14, 2010
    That's one of the reasons I love the Persian profile so much.

    Persians have an acute point, great for piercing (knives usually have to make themselves an entry hole before they can begin cutting). And since human limbs swing in an arc from their joints, the sweeping edge profile is complementary to the angles at which a hand or arm moves when it strokes, making Persians good for big cutting tasks.

    I've never met a knife I liked more than a Persian or Bowie with a combination upswept edge and acute tip.
  5. Dirk

    Dirk Moderator Moderator

    Mar 19, 1999
    No one else has any thoughts or opinions? Come on, I am sure you have all thought about this.


    These kind of discussions can potentially influence what you see from HTM in the future.
  6. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    I really like wharncliffes, and I'm a moderate fan of hawkbills. I mostly cut paper, cardboard, plastic sheeting, some cordage and foam rubber and both work exceptionally well for that. I don't do much carving or slicing with my edc, so I don't find ample belly on a knife to be of any great benefit. I'll cheerfully trade that for the ability to 'grab' material more aggressively with the point of the blade. Something wharnies and hawkbills excel at.

    Honestly, I like experimenting with blade shapes. The much maligned 'American tanto' is one of my favorites for a beater knife as long as it has the proper grind, and I've discovered kerambits are wonderful for peeling fruit and for tearing through tougher media. For me, the biggest challenge in using a new blade shape is adjusting my thinking to the task at hand. Using a kerambit in reverse grip to make delicate cuts by pulling upwards works well, but it took me some time to figure it out. It's a minor challenge, but one that I enjoy.

    TL;DR Bring on the different blade shapes, I love that stuff.
  7. harkamus


    Apr 23, 2007
    I wouldn't mind seeing a ringed karambit with a smaller than typical blade, something that could be a last resort thing that would surprise a perp. The edge would have to be small enough to where it's harder to see, but not so small where it becomes all but useless. My reasoning is, if the perp doesn't see the edge, he has no reason to twist your arm in a way to point the cutting edge to your own body. It would need a good kydex sheath that has multiple mounting holes.

    I know if I get in a situation where I am unable to get away, assuming my hand gun is out of reach, I'm not coming out from the get go with a blade. It's only coming out if I see an opportunity.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  8. ecos


    Jul 2, 2006
    I find a drop point the most well rounded design...perhaps one with a slight recurve. But I carry a variety of shapes because I like blades in many forms.

    Personally I'm not too fond of hawkbill for daily carry for myself. I seem to come across cutting chores where other blade shapes perform better. For example slicing small citrus fruits for my dinner. The tip likes to hit the plate before the rest of the blade. Sure it can still work, its just not ideal. I do like wharncliffs for edc.

    I don't think just because a knife is categorized into a certain field that it has to remain in that field. Take "tactical" pieces for example. 99% of them are not used tactically.

    I'm always amazed hearing stories of how customers use knives. I had 2 guys email me to say they used kiridashi with 1 1/2" blades to field dress deer. Definitely not what I had in mind when I made the pieces.
  9. hunter s thompson

    hunter s thompson

    Oct 17, 2007
    I love wharncliff blades. My grandfather carried a Case hawkbill everyday of his life, he used it and used it well for his "EDC" (even though he would have laughed at you if you told him that) so I understand the utility of a hawkbill. I would certainly be willing to try one out, if the profile wasn't too extreme.
  10. TriviaMonster


    Jan 2, 2012
    I often times carry my Case Mini Copperhead which has about a 2" Wharncliffe on it. Its a superb blade for just about everything.

    Boy I would love to see a Wharncliffe Gun hammer with a blade profile similar to a yojimbo2 with its acute, yet sturdy point. Wow would that be cool.

    I think it would be just the cats pajamas. I think that new San mai M390 would really take it crazy places. Like into my pants...pockets.
  11. Dirk

    Dirk Moderator Moderator

    Mar 19, 1999
    Well, I can't say there is a wharncliff gun hammer on the horizon, I can say the idea was looked at. At the time, it was decided the GH handle might not be the best home for a wharncliff. There are a couple of ideas floating around. We will see where they end up.

    There does seem to be some interest in the kerambit. I have watched over the years as it has grown. It seemed to peak a few years back and then kind of settled into a niche. It's a big enough niche that most companies and makers have one or have experimented with one.

    ecos - I agree with you about the term tactical. It is over used and it's true meaning has been distorted. However, that does tend to be the nature of language. Words start out meaning one thing and then after a while, their meaning changes are at least has other meanings added. Personally, I like what Fred Perrin said in regards to the term tactical knives - "There are no tactical knives, only tactical minds."
  12. slight


    May 22, 2011
    I personally love wharncliff blades and use them frequently. I also like hawkbills and carry a tasman salt a good bit paired up with another knife.

    I like all types of blade styles, with the bowie being my favorite. wharncliffs are second with spearpoint in third.

    I also am a huge fan of the kris, s shape, recurves and deep bellt cutlass (I guess this is the name, just imagine half a kris) as far as looks go. I only have experience with a normal recurve which works well, but i think they all could work just as good if ground right.

    Lately I have really started to consider a single edge kris style blade for edc. I like serrations and feel like the wavy edge would slice better than a serrated edge while still cutting aggressively due to the multiple recurves.

    Idk it could just be me.
  13. Dirk

    Dirk Moderator Moderator

    Mar 19, 1999
    Interesting. First, why a bowie? What does that blade shape do that draws you to it? Is it just the look? It is a very attractive blade shape. Done correctly, it is hard to beat for looking good!

    A single edge kris? I have only seen it done a couple of times by modern makers. I have seen a few pics of old single edge kris. They weren't as wavy as we typically think of a kris. Still an interesting shape. Were you thinking of serrations down the entire blade?
  14. BePrepared


    Aug 26, 2010
    i have to say, i really like blade designs that have a lot of belly and i really like the clipped point designs like the Gerber DMF or the Zermeno Azrael.

    There's a huge amount of utility in a blade with a good sweeping edge and a nice strong tip... IMHO the optimal EDC blade shape

    Edit: The BM Rift and Contego blade shapes are other examples of this design
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
  15. slight


    May 22, 2011
    I like bowies because of they way they look mixed with the way the function. You get everything you want in a standard drop point only it is a little better looking and there is a sharper tip. IMO.

    and for the kris i wasnt thinking serrations. but I do love the performance of hawkbills with serrations so i bet a serrated kris would breeze through rope.
  16. Rapt_up


    May 4, 2012
    Drop point recurve my fave shape and most "general" in my opinon. Nice belly for slicing, reasonably acute point for fine work in a good location relative to the handle, recurve helps with slicing and also for keeping the cut material under control.

    That said I have enjoyed using near wharncliff, reverse tanto with slight belly (ala Random Task) and found it far more practical than I would have guessed.

    I also think the radian shape would be very similar to the drop point recurve in general functionality, maybe even more so. Have to get one and try it out.... The near straight front section should also give good controlled push cuts much like a chisel.
  17. Dirk

    Dirk Moderator Moderator

    Mar 19, 1999
    The drop point re-curve is a very effective blade shape. The Radian has it's roots there. Several of Darrel's early knives were drop point re-curves. The Arc-Lite, Apogee and the EDC.

    The reverse tanto with a some belly is another interesting blade shape. Extend that out a bit and you come up with a common version of the Seax. That is where I got the idea for my Wharning. I wanted to do a small Seax but, couldn't get the belly quite the way I wanted it. I decided to make the edge straight and then came the Wharning. I do need to revisit the idea of a small Seax and see if I can come up with something after a few years of stewing on it.

    Some interesting information. Thanks and keep it coming. There are some ideas here I want to run past Darrel.
  18. Damn_Animal


    Sep 14, 2010
    Wharncliff and Sheeps foot are two of my favorite blade shapes on edc knives. Unfortunately i like to carry larger 4-4.5 inch blade ti frame lock folder with thumb holes and not a whole lot of knifes with that configuration are manufactured with that blade style. As a result I end up carrying more leaf and spear point blades than others. I find the Wharncliff and Sheeps foot to excel at most edc tasks like opening boxes and cutting banding.
  19. Rapt_up


    May 4, 2012
    Another factor I think is important is making sure the blade comes down as low or lower than the bottom of the handle area. This allows good cutting against a surface with the heel of the blade without crushing your fingers. Not a lot of knives do this, and in fact many (particularly ones with "hole" openers) are in fact the opposite of this with more blade above the handle top.

    Finally I like to have decent blade depth well forward so I can "choke up" on the blade for fine tasks. This is especially true of reverse tanto/wharncliff type styes which encourage fine tip work.

    Often in either aesthetic or financial considerations (using less premium blade steel) blades are quite slim top to bottom and this makes choking up more difficult to do with control.

    Oh and also generally speaking these knives are used for slicing so blade thickness and grind should support that. Folders even large ones, are not typically used as prybars, thats where large fixed blades come in, IMO. So finer flat or hollow grinds are more what I personally prefer in such blades.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  20. l0rdr0ck


    Oct 21, 2011
    I find myself liking the wharcliff style more and more for everyday use, with a full flat grind or pseudo scandi

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