Ideal knife thickness discussion

Discussion in 'Knives, Gear, Guns And Other Tools' started by Se7eN, Jul 19, 2019.

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  1. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    okay.

    A few ground rules.

    1. Be civil, and respectful.
    2. This thread is about learning, so be open minded.
    3. Understand that different geographical locations will play a part in everyone’s personal opinion.

    It’s no secret that average sizes knives are popular in this forum. The gold standard seeming to be the ESEE 6, a very normal sized knife for a 6” blade that is extremely capable in all aspects of KNIFE USE.

    The ESEE 5 is the black sheep of the ESEE family. It has a small, yet dedicated following of folks that love this knife to death.

    There is really no debate about how thick a knife should
    Be. Most people on this forums believe that a knife that has 3/16 thick spine is adequately equipped for anything from cleaning fish, to processing firewood. Some even like thinner knives such as the ESEE 3, or a mora with its superb Scandinavian grind ( a comparatively superior edge for bushcraft use).

    Then there are folks that prefer a knife that has a 1/4” spine, deemed thick and unnecessary by most people.



    I really want to explore why people generally don’t like thick knives.

    I’d like it if everyone who is interested would weigh in here with their opinion and personal experience.

    My personal preference is a knife that is 1/4” thick at the spine with a full convex grind.

    I love the ESEE 5. It comes with a nice saber grind, however the factory edge is really horrible and it requires major re profiling to be useful beyond splitting firewood or putting holes in oil drums.

    Example - See the edge on mine? I took the shoulders right off. Now it’s a high convex and it cuts beautifully.


    411E5D8C-9819-4AB5-81F5-36F28AB71A38.jpeg

    C6F9A207-4183-4E70-81EE-4BF63FA6B569.jpeg


    Some people dislike thick knives because of weight. Simple enough.

    Others don’t like it because it doesn’t feel right or they don’t like the way they cut- this is an edge geometry issue!

    The Tops Operator 7 is 5/16’s thick at its spine, yet it’s recurve blade and modified saber/full flat grind allows this knife to take a hair popping edge with ease! It will carve, clean fish and make feather sticks without issue.

    All things a thinner knife would also accomplish...

    8FDF7EA7-AB3A-49D6-8897-425B087EB36D.jpeg


    Thick knives absolutely do not excel at food prep compared to a thinner knife like the Esee 6 or fallkniven F1, but it can be done.

    Thick knives can take a ton of abuse and are more of a tool to me. Then again, I am the kind of guy that carries a large, thick fixed blade as my primary knife while out in the woods.

    I really think that poor edge geometry on most thick knives give them a bad reputation for being unusable.

    My BUSSE 20th anniversary battle mistress is 5/16’s thick at the spine, but had an incredible full flat grind, making it incredibly useful and scary sharp for its size. The result is a knife that has substantial chopping power due to its weight, yet it can be used to clean fish or make feather sticks.

    Notice how I have not said that thick knives are better than thin knives?

    Well, they aren’t. I just prefer them because when the chips are down and you have to use that knife to do something abnormal, a thick knife will get away with it unscathed.

    On the flip side, no thick knife that I own is as much of a pleasure to carve with as my Andaltool CFK, Esee3, F1 Pro or izula2.

    Especially with food prep, or when I need to make something small and intricate.

    I feel like the Junglas 2 is the near perfect knife.

    Comfortable handle, good blade shape and design, but I honestly don’t think it’s thick enough. If you took the J2 and build it exactly the same, but thicker, what would that look like? I don’t think it would be detrimental except for weight, yet it would be indestructible by anyone’s standards.

    Yet, if you use a knife just as a knife and nothing more...A cutting tool....a thinner knife is the clear winner. They excel at CUTTING, carving and crafting. Any knife over 3/16’s thick is more of a tool to me. Does that make sense ?

    What is everyone else’s opinion ?

    I am just wanting to explore the love and hate between thick and normal knife dimensions.

    How everyone is so divided on this topic fascinates me.
     
  2. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    What do you expect to do with a thick knife that would break a thinner one?
     
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  3. Kevo

    Kevo Member

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    Commenting so that I can get some updates. Put me in the thin knife camp. I'm more of a filet and whittle than a pry and baton kinda guy.
     
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  4. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    Fatigue from batonning leading to catastrophic failure, ( twisted wood, knots etc) we have seen several thinner knives snap half moon shapes out of the blade near the edge and that could be caused by excessive lateral force/Fatigue?

    Any activity that involves possible prying (fatwood/chaga harvesting), accidental tip breakage.

    I’ve seen my Junglas and ESEE 6 absolutely noodled while processing wood, to the point where I thought it was going to bend. I have personally bent the tip of my Junglas from chopping several times. No biggie. I had a GSO 10 and got rid of it because it didn’t have enough chopping power for its size. It was too light and the handle wasn’t ideal because it wasn’t comfortable to swing.

    I don’t think thinner knives will perform as reliably in cold Canadian weather either.

    Just personal examples @Strigidae, nothing more.
     
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  5. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    Totally get it and thanks for your comment!
     
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  6. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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  7. ManOfSteel

    ManOfSteel Member

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    5/32-3-16 and that’s it for me.
     
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  8. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    Thats what i was looking for. Just wondering like you how the other side thinks.
     
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  9. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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    I LIKE thick knives. My absolute favourite blade is .32 in US oldy time measurement speak. I have the same blade in .17, .18, .20, .22 and .26 (literally the same blade/model) and I grab one of the .32s more than any other.

    That is also a "do all" blade for me, one I grab when I am not sure what it is I will ask of the knife, if I KNOW I will be dressing game I will take smaller and thinner, if I have to split wood I will go bigger (out here we have so many HAAAAARD woods batoning is not nearly as popular as were soft woods are more common), but if I want a knife that can accomplish all those tasks, understanding that there will be "compromises" on each task, then my choice is easier.
     
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  10. CWB

    CWB Member

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    For me 1/8” to 5/32”. However I do have a Koster Bushmaster that’s 3/16” that I really like.

    This one is is around 5/32”. And is perfect.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    I have a feeling this may be a busse?

    Pics Andy!!!
     
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  12. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Moderator of the Century Staff Member

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  13. JollyRoger523

    JollyRoger523 Member

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    For a small utility or EDC knife = .093 (3/32) to .125 (1/8)

    For a medium sized woods/camp knife = .125 (1/8) to .156 (5/32)

    A larger size camp knife = .187 (3/16) or more
     
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  14. anrkst6973

    anrkst6973 Member

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    image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg

    Interesting discussion. I don't dislike thicker knives, I just don't NEED them. I have owned and used a couple of 1/4" Busse's along with a custom or 2. No complaints, good steel cuts what I needed it to. But going back 20 years I got a 12" recurved blade in 1/8" and soon even tiny things like dicing a clove of garlic or making a 4" fish ready to cook were just an everyday thing. I went happily about with my recurve and a 3 blade stockman folder for the longest time.

    Fast forward to about 5-6 years ago and I made the horrifying choice of listening to the ramblings of Jeff Randall and picked up an 18" Latin style machete, still only 1/8" thick but in this geographical area it's as much knife as you will ever need.
    Now no one wants to come over and have a cookout...I have to eat the whole pot and drink all the beer. (There's a downside somewhere...I just can't come up with it! :D )
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  15. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    Yes!!!! The Ash1!!!
     
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  16. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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    The thing is, a machete doesn’t really count in this discussion because of its weight. It’s weight, length and sheer size makes it incredibly useful! They are also a weight forward design. I love machetes.
     
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  17. Se7eN

    Se7eN Member

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  18. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    simple answer:

    thin knives feel flimsy and weak to me. Even high end knives

    I do have thin knives (quite a few ) and I use them, but 99% of what i use my knives for is brute force chopping/hacking/prying , NOT finesse cutting.

    De-limbing , chopping, splitting, in a wide variety of temperature extremes.

    thin knives (like say the Esee machete or my Cold Steel Smatchet) when swung at trees, transmit enormous amounts of shock to the hand and elbow. Thicker knives 3/32" and up to half inch thick , not only perform better for chopping, splitting due to the mass and inertia, but transmit almost zero shock to the users hand / elbow joints.

    Same with batoning. I would never baton a thin knife. unless the wood was alder or willow or cedar being split vertically. Thicker knives can be brutally batoned year after year , without any damage. Thin knives.....not a chance. eventually they fatigue and break.

    thick knives I can rely on. In any temperature. Without carrying the weight of an axe.

    for carving I use my FiddleBack Forge Handyman, or my SAK. Iwould never use these two the way I use my regular knives.

    5/16" to 3/32" knives

    IMG_8132.jpg

    5/16" and 1/4" crew

    IMG_8134.jpg

    3/32" crew (except for the Recondo's - they are 1/4" tapering down to 3/32" )

    IMG_8135.jpg

    what would be my grail blade? a 5/16" thick x 16" blade Junglas with a JG3 handle (slightly larger handle)
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  19. BobInNC

    BobInNC Member

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    benchmade B&T.jpg I like my ESEE 4 as an all rounder. But I hunt a lot of small game, and small game knives are best with thin blades no fatter than 0.125". My 4 can do almost everything I want it to, but when it comes to cleaning birds, squirrels, and the like give me a good bird and trout knife.

    I have a Benchmade B&T # 192 with a 0.08" blade which is ideal for this kind of work.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  20. Reno Lewis

    Reno Lewis Knot-A-Challenge Champion

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    I don't limit myself. I like and use everything, just depends on how I'm feeling at any given time.

    I can run with a 1/4" thick 10" long monster, or the tiniest puukko, and make due, but I certainly tend to favor small knives, because they do knife stuff better.

    Take into account though, most real puukkos are around 5-6mm thick, but rhomboid ground, and are some of the sliciest knives you'll ever encounter. Geometry plays a big roll in how a knife performs.

    With that said, my preference lately is a fairly long standing combo through history, a small slicey belt knife, a multitool/SAK, a hatchet or small axe, and a folding saw of some type. Largely preferring folding buck saws due to their easily replaceable blades and durability.

    I'm not busting fatwood every time I go out, so when it comes to gathering firewood or building a shelter, a big saw and a hatchet or a small axe is a perfect combo, and a small slicey knife makes short work of small, slicey tasks.

    Of course, if you want to carry a big blade in place of the hatchet for the same weight, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Different strokes.

    I think the issue appears when you start to compare big knives to small knives, instead of comparing big knives to hatchets.

    To me at least, a big heavy knife fills the same roll as a hatchet, but could never fill the roll of an axe.
     
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