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What makes a good knife?

Discussion in 'Design' started by Mythtaken, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    I'm not talking about steel here; I'm talking about design. How does a maker come up with a design? This is a question I think a lot of new knifemakers ask themselves.

    Let's look at a basic hunter design. It's most often one of the first things a new maker tries.

    Even though we all have different tastes, there is something that makes one design look "correct" and another "wrong". Is there some ratio of blade length (tip to guard) vs depth (spine to edge) that just looks right? Or does it depend on other things? What about determining blade length to handle length? Is the ratio always similar or is is strictly by feel?
     
  2. stevebates

    stevebates Member

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    I think the balance of a blade might come in first as a great knife that holds an edge is still hard to use if the balance is off. Edge holding capability, application of the knife type of grind vs. job to be done. Comfortable to hold last thing you want is an uncomfortable grip when cutting when your mind should be on where that cutting edge is and where it will end up..lol!
     
  3. shadman

    shadman Member

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    first thing i look for in a good knife is looks-if it doesnt catch my eye i probably will never pick it up.then whether it has a 10 inch blade or a 4 inch blade if it doesnt "feel" right in my hand it wont work for me-i like a knife that just kinda disappears in my hand.call it ergonomics or balance or something i like it when a knife "fits" my hand and you just know where the sharp and pointy end is without ever having to look.i draw a lot of designs out on paper and other than a folder very seldom does my finished product ever resemble the drawing.so i guess i am more of a "feel"type maker.Blade material or grind is always secondary to me-long as it holds an edge
     
  4. metal99

    metal99 Member

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    This is a good thread Myth!

    I go by feel almost all if the time and like shadman mentioned, if it almost disappears in your hand you know you've done something right.

    My handles are normall very small compared to other makers handles, I'm not sure why this is but that's how they turn out lol.

    As far as proportions go for blade to handle length. I start on paper and come up with a drawing that I really like. Then I cut it out of cardboard to get a little feel for it. If it passes that test I cut out the knife and go to town!
     
  5. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    So, for the new maker wondering about design, the message is clear; imagine it, draw it, feel it. The key is balance, both to the eye and in the hand.
     
  6. Les Tippett

    Les Tippett New Member

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    duly noted as a newbie
     
  7. ToddR

    ToddR Putterer, Tinkerer, Waster of Time Staff Member

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    I love this thread too. I spend a lot of time thinking about this. I tend to "make up" knife shapes without really knowing what they'd be good for. I also prescribe to the "it must look appealing before i'll be interested in it". I look at knife shapes and decide if they're cool looking long before i pick it up. Silly but it is important. I use some basic ideas about design as i draw them (i.e. pointier is better for stabbing, round belly are good for slicing etc.) but for the most part, i wing a design and then try to figure out what it would be good for later. I know it sounds odd but, i'm not a hunter or a fisherman so i don't skin animals etc. I don't camp that much and I'm not a survivalist. I use kitchen knives but I don't know much about what makes a good one. I really just got into knive making because of the combination or art and science of it. I wanted to make my own machines and learn how to manipulate metal into something useful. I love this thread because it may help me determine what my knives are good for, after I've made them. Weird right? I did say this was really just a hobby or a curiosity for me. One that stuck but still....

    Also, i tend to make my handles really large. My blades were super heavy because i was always afraid of making something that would break if i beat on it. My knives tend to be really big and chopper-y. I've recently tried to start making small edc knives just to break myself of these habits.
     
  8. Les Tippett

    Les Tippett New Member

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    you sound a little bit like me Todd R. only I do hunt and fish
    appreciate all the feedback so far
    am really enjoying listening to all the info/education
    like a sponge right now...lol
     
  9. Kevin Cox

    Kevin Cox KC knives

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    To me it as to start with a knife holding its cut . If not I don’t care how it’s made it’s junk to me . Then I like them with thin blades . Hunting blade no longer than 4 1/2 max and I like 3 1/2 to 4 best. Drop point . Knife as to work upside down to so it as to fit the hand both ways. This is for hunting knives camp knife is a different story. Like them bigger and more heavy duty. That’s a start.
     
  10. Wishalot

    Wishalot New Member

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    Having a great time viewing these threads whether they are older or not. Kevin, your knife choice matches my thoughts as well. I do prefer a thinner blade, 4 1/2" long. I know one should prefer a guard, however, I don't, and also like the blade edge to be slightly lower than the handle. For some reason, it feels more natural to me that way. When I first started hunting many years ago, my favourite was a Puma Buddy. It was a little too thick, but it really held an edge, was easy to steel right back when it was necessary and never needed another sharpening process. Unfortunately I sold it in a weaker moment and the price was right and I have been working to find one to match it ever since, albeit a little thinner.
     
  11. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    It's remarkable how many different styles of knives are called "hunting knives." Most don't actually hunt with knives, of course unless you're a crazy wild boar wrestler from New Zealand. Their idea of a hunting knife is some very stabby with an 8" blade.

    Frank, I understand that the Puma Buddy was similar to the Schrade Old Timer Sharpfinger. Maybe you can make one of those just the way you like it.
     
  12. Wishalot

    Wishalot New Member

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    I think from what I see here, I would trust you more with making that one, however, I may still get something close since this " bug " seems to be ingrained now. I agree with that vision of a so-called hunting knife - for me an all-purpose one-knife fixed blade would be the goal. Will have to try this Old Hickory Kephart conversion out for now.
     
  13. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    like other posts
    Looks get people to stop and look at the knife
    Needs to fit a human hand and used without discomfort
    Sharpening is also a big consideration, I give a couple options for material; easy to sharpen and stays sharp long time but damn it is a pain to sharpen.

    The sheath is the eye candy some like plain girl next door while others like high maintenance types.
     
  14. Wishalot

    Wishalot New Member

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    Yes, the sheath is sure a consideration and how it might sit or hang from a belt. Currently I seem to feel more comfortable with a sheath that holds the knife firmly, not extremely tight, just enough to allow it to be drawn out with one hand but keep it there until needed. Also starting to see the benefits of the ability of the sheath to swing more freely and not be affixed in a manner that allows the handle to jab ribs. Maybe, we just are never satisfied.
     
  15. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    I carried one very high on the side, didn't interfere with other gear and never got poked.
     
  16. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I usually set the loop to be at the top of the handle when the knife is fully inserted. That way when I am doing calisthenics it's not in the way. LOL
     
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  17. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    cali what now
     
  18. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Showing my age a bit there eh John?
     
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