When would I want to use a spey blade?

Fellow knife nuts. I have a quick question. I have a Buck 535 that has both a drop point and spey blade. When would you use the drop and when would you use the spey?

I was interested in hearing other forumites opinions on their preferences of using different types of blade---and more importantly, why. Please feel free to throw in others.



Apr 15, 1999
Spey blades are for just what the name implies, speying livestock. I understand that this requires a blade that will not have much penetration, but a little belly is useful, so they differ slightly from sheepsfoot blades in have a very slight point and an area of curvature towards the tip. I suppose they might be handy under any circumstances where you want to cut through a substance but not damage what's underneath; Maybe skinning small animals around the intestines? Or opening a box when you don't want to cut what might be inside?

This is why it would be so good to have a "design" forum.

Since I don't reside on a farm and am unable to use the Spey Blade for its true purpose I have adapted it for use cutting things out of magazines and newspapers.When paper needs to be cut out comes the stockman and the spey blade.
I'm glad I asked. I honestly didn't know what the term spey meant. It's not in my dictionary.

I would love to read about the other uses of other blade shapes.

Keep the definitions coming guys!


A Stockman is my favorite traditional jack knife pattern. It is really well thought out for its intended purpose. The large clip has a sharp point and a long cutting edge when needed. The sheepsfoot would be good on horse back, no point to put through your hand or into your leg if your horse missteps or jounces. The spey as intended.

The other knife that routinely has a spey is a Trapper. In this case I assume the spay is intended for skinning smaller animals. It isn't clear to me why the spey on a trapper is a full length blade, it would seem that a shorter blade would be more useful. I'm sure if spent more time skinning small game with a trapper the reason would become clear. Things like that don't happen by accident.
Thinking back over descriptions I've read, I'm wondering if a spey blade isn't intended for castration rather than spaying. How much spaying do livestock owners do? Castration is a fairly common thing and not nearly so demanding a procedure, I would think. I'm just guessing here, as I've never done anything closer to either procedure than vertebrate dissections. I think my info about the shape's utility is correct, but I wonder if I'm misinforming folks regarding its purpose. Who's got first-hand experience on a farm or ranch?


I don't really have much experience on a ranch or farm, but I do know where "Mountain Oysters" come from, and you are probably right.


Unfortunately I have had first hand experience at castrating livestock, in high school in Agriculture. We had to castrate the school principal's livestock. We used a pocketknife but I don't remember which blade.
Neutered, this is what the male dog or male cat gets, castrated, this is what livestock gets, two words for one meaning.
Spaying, this is the term for sterilizing a FEMALE (cat, dog, etc.) I don't know why anyone would want a farm animal spayed? Also spaying is a surgery in which the animal is put to sleep during the process. The bulls we castrated didn't get the luxury of pain killer or anesthesia, they were held in a head gate and were forced to "grin and bear it"!

Most old time ranchers and farmers Iusd to know like my grandfather and his brothers allcarried stockman's of varying sizes. They would use whatever blade was the sharpest for castrating and ear notching. But usually each blade had an intended purpose, the clip for utility, the spey for nutcuttin' and the sheepfoot for whittling. The spey was usually sharpest because it was used less.
I have used the spey blade of a stockman pocketknife to castrate litterally thousands of calves. We didnt use anything else due to the prospect of getting stabbed if a calf got a leg loose from the rope. Any sharp object will do to due the job, but the spey blade was best for this. I have made some small fixed blade castrating knives for some of the local ranchers that I have worked for and still help at branding time. They love them, no point whatsoever. We save all the balls and have whats called the Testical Festival, some pretty big doings!

"Testical Festival"? How about a "Nuts a Pair Fair"? Maybe a "Fall Nut Ball"? Hey, this is silly, but fun! Probably not so for the calves though, huh?
Man... I have GOT to get a LIFE!

The choices we make dictates the life we lead.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 14 August 1999).]
Hi All,
From what an old time cutler told me,it runs something like this: Spay, was an intentional misnomer for the sake of polite society. Nothing more special than that.
I'll tell you what I would do with that pattern. I would leave the clip-point blade with a general use and slightly-harder-use grind. 20 degree bevels, 300ish or less grit.

The spey blade, I'd make my razor. 15 degree bevels, finish it on your finest stone & strop it.

There you go, a hard-use slicer and razor-edge scalpel in the same knife. Sounds incredibly useful to me! I remember reading somewhere that this is exactly how people used to sharpen this pattern (without the low grit on the clip blade that I recommend). Whether or not that's true, it still sounds like a damn good idea.

So Rob, what do you call those little fixed blades you made? Testical Tacticals by any chance?


who dares, wins

For me, the spey blade is the blade of abuse. When I need to scrape something that I don't want to ruin the edge on the other blades, the speys the one. I'll keep a passable edge on it, but will not spend a lot of time sharpening this blade, for the above reason. The main blade will slice paper, the sheepsfoot (my favorite) will peel hair.

When someone wants to borrow my knife, I'll open the spey blade and hand it to them, that way they'll use the spey and not bugger up any of my good edges on the other blades

I use the straight sheepsfoot for most of my cutting because being a straight blade, I don't worry about holding the proper angle through the blade belly. Just set her down, get your angle, and push. Flip it over, repeat. -Brian