Stabbing into wood (revisited) - WHY ?


Jan 31, 1999
In reading the "Tip Troubles" thread, a question kept coming to me that nobody else asked, so here goes...

Whereas we enjoy knives for their craftsmanship, utility, and beauty, we like to use them but realise that the tip is the most delicate part, and the part we really want to be pointy for when we really need it to be pointy - why on earth would someone repeatedly stab it into wood while working on another job ?
Wouldn't it be easier and easier on the knife to simply lay it down out of the way ???

I ask this as a general question and not an indictment of the Forumit having the troubles with his SOG because it seemed obvious to me, but not to anyone else. Is this common practice among y'all ? The only instance where I could think of this being a good idea was if I was up in a tree and the only safe place to put it out of the way for a minute would be to stick it in the tree.

By the way, I think any knife marketed as heavy duty should be able to handle this, and I think Ron is 'doing the right thing'.

Maybe I just baby my knives too much...
You can't get caught up in the immediate details as they can be misleading. Yes, there is no need to be stabbing your knife into a piece of board when you are finished using it. However considering the geometry of the blade involved there should be no concern about doing it if you want to.

It would be the same thing if someone broke it off buttering toast and the responce was "We didn't make that to butter toast - that is misuse." This is strictly true of course. It does not have a great design for a butter knife and in doing so you are using it outside the intended scope of work.

However the critical point is that considering what is was designed for it should easily be able to butter a piece of toast. The only reason you give a knife that much steel (3/16") and that obtuse of a geometry (tip and primary grind) is to make it very durable. If the end result is a product that doesn't have the toughness of a Swiss Army knife then something went horribly wrong somewhere.

Possibly the choice of heat treat on the steel. Why push so hard on the RC (62 - 64) in a knife that certainly looks to be made for hard use. You are going to be really losing toughness at that RC. This high a RC would even be brittle in some of the tougher carbon steels let alone a high alloy stainless steel. For example, the toughness of CPM-3V is cut in half as you go from 58 to 62 RC.

While I certainly wouldn't make a practice of driving the tip of a carry knife repeatedly into any substance that might result in tip breakage, I did do that once recently in testing a new liner-lock folder.

In this instance, I drove the tip into a soft pine 4" X 4" post with as much as I could safely apply, and then twisted the knife as a test of the liner-lock.

Happily, I neither lost the tip nor was I able to induce failure of the liner-lock.
That's one of those things like opening cans and piercing auto body sheet metal that people only think is difficult (or even abusive) if they've never tried it. Gather up all the knives you have that you don't mind risking with blades 1/8" (3mm) or thicker out to the point and try stabbing them into wood and pulling them out. Try kitchen knives, $4 junk lockbacks ... you could break a Pakistani knife that way; Pakistani knives can break if you breathe on them. Some kitchen knives and filet knives are so thin and flexible you can't really thrust with them, let alone pry. Other than that, though....

I have broken a few points but never by stabbing wood. Steel cuts wood; steel pierces wood; steel splits wood ... wood doesn't break steel, not unless the steel is defective or too thin.

-Cougar :{)
Use of Weapons
From my POV, stabbing a knife into wood is just one of those things you (or I) like to do with knives! It shouldn't be a big deal. Even a thin kitchen knife should be able to stand up to a simple straight thrust, and any knife that claims to be a "survival knife", "camp knife" or even "hunting knife" should be able to take not only the thrust, but even a little prying, with the expectation that the knife will do fine rising backwards along the list from "hunting" to "survival".

As for storing a knife out of the way temporarily, if the wood surface is vertical, or curved it may be the only practical way to do it.
I've jammed the tip of my M16-12Z (tanto tip) into wood and twisted and wrenched it as part of a bit of torture testing. Nothing happened to it unless you count the edge on the tip being a LITTLE bit duller.

(One note though, the liner lock WILL lock up if you use it for slashing... most anything. I was hacking at a newspaper rolled around a 2x2, and I had to stick my fingernail into the liner and press pretty hard to get it to unlock.)

On the other hand, I guess it depends on the knife. I'd be very surprised if the tip of my HI 15" Ang Khola were damaged by jamming it through a car door, or even hanging from the knife.