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Questions about blade design


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After asking for a custom blade and receiving a lot of information from the experts here, I have realized that despite my using multiple different types of blades, from longswords and daggers to kunai (though kunai are not technically "blades" per se) and spears and many others for multiple purposes from cooking and camping to survival and combat and more, I don't know the first thing about designing a blade.

So my question is this, is this section of the forum a good place to talk about and learn how to design a blade or is there a better section suited to learning about blade design? I would be asking things like why a specific feature, design, or combination thereof work or not work and why, what materials would be best suited for specific environments, and most likely a myriad of other questions. My questions would most likely include specific features of blades such as designs, add-ons such as glass breakers, blood grooves, and more.

In short, would my questions be allowed here or not?

Thank you and stay healthy,

Chaim

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I'd recommend starting in the Design and Critique sub-forum.  Read a good deal of those posts, if not all of them, before asking any questions.  That is because you will likely find many of your answers to basic questions already answered, and learn a lot of stuff that you likely wouldn't have thought about asking.  

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Questions are allowed, of course.  But you need to understand that that we (as a group) get a lot of traffic from noobs and trolls and we are often short with time wasters.  For example "blood groove".  That is a term that raises red flags about the person using the term.  The proper term is 'fuller'.  A fuller is a groove ground or forged into a blade.  It's done for looks and it's done to lighten a blade without compromising the strength of the blade.  It acts like an "I" beam, which is strong but light.  The fuller has nothing to do with preventing a blade from becoming trapped in the body, or creating a channel for blood to flow.  None of that is true.  Please don't use the term again.

Second, you seem to be fixated on the use of blades in specific environments.  This makes me think that you may have had a tool fail in some circumstance that makes you focus on temperature at the culprit.  Steel is the best material for tools in just about any terrestrial environment.  Steel is the magical stuff of legend.  If you had a tool fail, it either had a manufacturing flaw, or it was pushed past it's design specs.  If you are in an explosion prone area, like in a gas production facility, non sparking tools are preferred.  In a salt water environment, stainless steel or steels with some kind of coating are best.  But in any environment on Earth where you can live without special equipment, steel is what you want.  There are minor differences between steels and steel alloys, and smiths and blade folks can and will talk about it endlessly, but in real world terms, the end user probably can't find a difference in use.  However, this is the sort of question where if you ask 5 bladesmiths for an answer, you'll 9 opinions.

 

The best way to think about design (and this is how I do it, some times, depending on how I feel, or the time of day, or phase of the Moon, or not at all) is to look at what was used by people who made a thing to do the thing and try and figure out why they did it that way.

As for serrations, gut hooks, glass breakers, and all of the rest of that stuff, mostly I hate them.  They disturb the nice, clean flow of a well designed blade.  If you need a gut hook, carry a folding one.  If you frequently cut rope, then by all means, get serrations.

I have about 10 sketch books in use at any one time.  I do line sketches of ideas all the time.  They often start as quick scratchy outlines that get refined, sometimes I capture small details in much more refined versions.  I very rarely make a blade to the specs of a drawing, that's not why I do them.  I do them to make a catalog of ideas.  I do the same with pics off the internet, I keep folders of them as idea seeds.

Ask your questions, by all means, but be aware of who we are.  For a lot of us, this is what we do.  I am reminded of a contact we had here some years ago.  He was looking for a sword of some dimension, but he mentioned that he believed that swords of that type were in the 5lb range.  We all tried to explain that he was mistaken.  In the end I did the calculation and told him to get a piece of 3/4" (it might have been more than that) rebar about the the length of his sword and try swinging that around, they weight would have been the same.  He quickly changed his mind about what he wanted.

Geoff 

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I'd add that this forum is dedicated to bladesmiths, this sub-forum to the beginner subset. As such the information you will find here is more geared towards designing blades that you intend to make yourself, and how to go about doing just that.

 

Extra bits like glass breakers, serations, etc. are mostly found on production knives, and you might want to explore what is available in that category before trying your hand at coming up with new designs.

 

There are forums dedicated to production knives, you might ask them for recommendations. Try a few knives, you'll probably find something that suits your needs. If not, you can come back here with a clearer idea of what you want and real world examples as a starting point, instead of those from cartoons and video games (those NEVER make sense).

 

Or you might want to try your hand at making one yourself, it's quite fun and you can learn all about it right here. 

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Questions are indeed what this place is for, no better.

 

None of the examples you mention except the........fuller :D are related to blade design, more knife design.

 

For me blade design starts with the intended use, that determines a lot like the size and dimensions (especially thickness), tip shape or even the complete lack of a tip, as well as the grind and edge geometry.

 

I proudly don't own any knives with glass breakers and ONLY 2 Spyderco Salts with serrated blades :lol: 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

I'd recommend starting in the Design and Critique sub-forum.  Read a good deal of those posts, if not all of them, before asking any questions.  That is because you will likely find many of your answers to basic questions already answered, and learn a lot of stuff that you likely wouldn't have thought about asking.  

 

-Jerrod

Thank you for the advice, I didnt see that sub forum before and that does seem to have many of the questions I would have asked as well as several more that I hadnt thought of. I will definitely read thorough a good portion of that before I continue with my questions here.

 

21 hours ago, Geoff Keyes said:

Questions are allowed, of course.  But you need to understand that that we (as a group) get a lot of traffic from noobs and trolls and we are often short with time wasters.  For example "blood groove".  That is a term that raises red flags about the person using the term.  The proper term is 'fuller'.  A fuller is a groove ground or forged into a blade.  It's done for looks and it's done to lighten a blade without compromising the strength of the blade.  It acts like an "I" beam, which is strong but light.  The fuller has nothing to do with preventing a blade from becoming trapped in the body, or creating a channel for blood to flow.  None of that is true.  Please don't use the term again.

Second, you seem to be fixated on the use of blades in specific environments.  This makes me think that you may have had a tool fail in some circumstance that makes you focus on temperature at the culprit.  Steel is the best material for tools in just about any terrestrial environment.  Steel is the magical stuff of legend.  If you had a tool fail, it either had a manufacturing flaw, or it was pushed past it's design specs.  If you are in an explosion prone area, like in a gas production facility, non sparking tools are preferred.  In a salt water environment, stainless steel or steels with some kind of coating are best.  But in any environment on Earth where you can live without special equipment, steel is what you want.  There are minor differences between steels and steel alloys, and smiths and blade folks can and will talk about it endlessly, but in real world terms, the end user probably can't find a difference in use.  However, this is the sort of question where if you ask 5 bladesmiths for an answer, you'll 9 opinions.

 

The best way to think about design (and this is how I do it, some times, depending on how I feel, or the time of day, or phase of the Moon, or not at all) is to look at what was used by people who made a thing to do the thing and try and figure out why they did it that way.

As for serrations, gut hooks, glass breakers, and all of the rest of that stuff, mostly I hate them.  They disturb the nice, clean flow of a well designed blade.  If you need a gut hook, carry a folding one.  If you frequently cut rope, then by all means, get serrations.

I have about 10 sketch books in use at any one time.  I do line sketches of ideas all the time.  They often start as quick scratchy outlines that get refined, sometimes I capture small details in much more refined versions.  I very rarely make a blade to the specs of a drawing, that's not why I do them.  I do them to make a catalog of ideas.  I do the same with pics off the internet, I keep folders of them as idea seeds.

Ask your questions, by all means, but be aware of who we are.  For a lot of us, this is what we do.  I am reminded of a contact we had here some years ago.  He was looking for a sword of some dimension, but he mentioned that he believed that swords of that type were in the 5lb range.  We all tried to explain that he was mistaken.  In the end I did the calculation and told him to get a piece of 3/4" (it might have been more than that) rebar about the the length of his sword and try swinging that around, they weight would have been the same.  He quickly changed his mind about what he wanted.

Geoff 

 

-Geoff

I completely understand where you are coming from as I was on the board of a forum myself for several years and had to deal with a fair share of trolls, random questions, noobs, and all around time wasters (which was one of the reasons I quit as an admin), so I'll try my best to not ask any questions like that.

As for the terminology of blades and such, I apologize for using the term "blood groove" as it was the only term I had been familiar with for that feature until you mentioned fuller. However, I did know that it had nothing to do with the things you mentioned and I was honestly wondering why it was even called that at all. That said, I still don't know many of the correct terms for most of these things, and though I will do my best to learn them and use the proper terminology, I would ask that you please forgive me if I use any other terms that are considered inappropriate or offensive and to let me know as you did here.

In terms of the usage of blades in specific environments, I am only trying to find something that is very high quality and will not fail with heavy use in various situations and environments. For example, I had wonderful blade that I received as a gift from my grandfather and it served me well for many years, but when I went to Russia for a survival course, I lost it in the snow one night and when I found it two days later buried in the snow near my campsite I was using it at my campfire to cook some fish I had caught (though in retrospect it probably wasn't the best idea to use the blade as a spatula over a fire right after I dug it out of the snow) the blade snapped in several pieces. That was the only time Ive ever had a blade actually break on me, but Id rather try to avoid having it happen again since my travels take me to some rather extreme climates.

As to the questions about additional features such as gut hooks, serrations, etc. I couldn't agree more with you in terms of the way they disrupt the beauty and cleanliness of the design. The simpler the better as I've always said when it comes to design. The more features and moving parts in something, the more possibilities that things can break or go wrong. If I were to ask any questions about things like that, I would be asking them mostly out of curiosity, nothing more.

8 hours ago, Michael Atkins said:

I'd add that this forum is dedicated to bladesmiths, this sub-forum to the beginner subset. As such the information you will find here is more geared towards designing blades that you intend to make yourself, and how to go about doing just that.

 

Extra bits like glass breakers, serations, etc. are mostly found on production knives, and you might want to explore what is available in that category before trying your hand at coming up with new designs.

 

There are forums dedicated to production knives, you might ask them for recommendations. Try a few knives, you'll probably find something that suits your needs. If not, you can come back here with a clearer idea of what you want and real world examples as a starting point, instead of those from cartoons and video games (those NEVER make sense).

 

Or you might want to try your hand at making one yourself, it's quite fun and you can learn all about it right here. 

 

-Michael

I have wanted to try my hand at metalworking for quite some time and while I could probably find a place to do it and be able to obtain most of the materials and tools I would need, it would not be very easy to do where I live and would be far more expensive and time consuming to gather everything that would be required, plus I dont have much money to spare right now as it is. (I used to live in the U.S. up until about 5 years ago when I had to move to another country for several reasons amongst which family is included.)

 

-----

 

Right now, instead of actually trying to design a blade, I would like to learn a good deal more about the actual process and viability of the overall design of blades in general before I try again to make a request for another custom order.

 

Thank you to everyone for your time, patience and expertise,

Chaim

Edited by Chaim
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On 4/8/2021 at 4:03 PM, Chaim said:

I had wonderful blade that I received as a gift from my grandfather and it served me well for many years

Hi Chaim. This would be a great place to start the conversation. A photo or drawing would also help immensely. What did the knife look like? How heavy was it? How thick was it? What about it made it such a good knife (size, shape, edge retention, ease of sharpening, flex, rigidity?.. list everything you can think about it that you liked. Then think if there was anything you found less than ideal (bit too small, bit too big, too heavy, etc). Everything in design is a compromise between two or more properties and is weighted by the intended use of the knife. A good bush-clearing knife is unlikely to work well for carving miniature chest pieces.

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So I did a dive into an old sketch book to find a series of drawing showing part of my process.  You can see that there are rough fast drawings, and slower, more refined ones as I start to get the idea firmed up in my head.  

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Geoff

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