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When is a knife not a knife?


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What is the boundary between a knife and a short sword? Is there some cross-over? I thought I read somewhere that anything with an 18" or greater blade would be considered a sword, but honestly any designation seems arbitrary to me.

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As I understand it, the boundary is going be more about how it's intended to be used the majority of the time, rather than a particular length.

 

With that in mind knives are generally going to be more general purpose, while swords are more specialized, and that being said, when knives start exceeding a blade length of about 12 inches their method of use starts to become more specialized.

 

I personally consider machetes to be more of a knife even if it may have a blade length equal to that of some shorter swords.

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This arguement goes way back to the middle ages when the knife and the sword guilds argued over which was which. As I understand it, a Bohemian king ruled that if it had a stick tange, it was a sword and if it had a sandwiched slab tange, it was a knife. He didn't care what length the blade was.

 

Doug Lester

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It's the same thing with daggers and sword. I use swords for bronze age swords with blades of 30cm, while there are plenty of longer daggers. Though that's because they're clearly one the evolutionary path of swords, away from daggers, having lost the tool function and becoming full weapons at that point.

 

But usually when they're in the grey zone, I stay away of using dagger/knife/sword terminology. F.e. long saxes I simply call long saxes, rather then single edge swords or really big knives.

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It's the same thing with daggers and sword. I use swords for bronze age swords with blades of 30cm, while there are plenty of longer daggers. Though that's because they're clearly one the evolutionary path of swords, away from daggers, having lost the tool function and becoming full weapons at that point.

 

But usually when they're in the grey zone, I stay away of using dagger/knife/sword terminology. F.e. long saxes I simply call long saxes, rather then single edge swords or really big knives.

 

Thanks Jeroen, that works for me.

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This arguement goes way back to the middle ages when the knife and the sword guilds argued over which was which. As I understand it, a Bohemian king ruled that if it had a stick tange, it was a sword and if it had a sandwiched slab tange, it was a knife. He didn't care what length the blade was.

 

Doug Lester

 

Maybe - but one of the nicest knives I have seen had a handle made up of leather disks that were impregnated with resin, then turned on a lathe - and the result was threaded onto a tang and caped with a pined pommel.

 

At the same time I used to have a bolo ( ( near as I can tell it was issued by the U.S. Navy back before WW2 )- big hefty blade, and it had riveted wood scales.

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At the same time I used to have a bolo ( ( near as I can tell it was issued by the U.S. Navy back before WW2 )- big hefty blade, and it had riveted wood scales.

 

Could that be a Hospital Corpmans Knife? -Art

Edited by Art Lawrence
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Don't know, the blade was typical bolo style wide at the end and with rounded tip and close to 15 - 18 inches long and just marked U.S. NAVY - I have never seen another like it, but it made for a great camp knife.

 

 

I wish I still had it, it and the other one mentioned developed legs one day and walked off about 18 months ago- ticked me off no end, they used to be dads when he was younger, and I used the both of them for quite a lot of yard work.

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I have one of those bolos with I think the original sheath, very nice chopper. I got mine from my dad

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Short of an ax, they are probably the best chopper I have ever used - and that heavy rounded point, make them fair digging tools as well.

 

charred - do you think you can post a pic of yours?

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