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How sharp does it have to be?

Discussion in 'The Cutting Edge' started by Iliketurtles, May 10, 2010.

  1. Iliketurtles


    May 22, 2009
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    I consider myself to be a pretty good sharpener of knives but some knives are hard to put a shaving sharp edge on.
    I understand that the sharper the knife the better, but does it need to be shaving sharp in order to go through clothing and inflict any serious damage to an aggressor?
  2. George Tichbourne

    George Tichbourne Deceased

    May 6, 2010
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    Ontario, Canada
    How sharp does a knife have to be depends on the designed use and tactics intended to be used. Lets look at a couple of historical examples.

    Roman short swords used in battle in conjunction with their overlapping shield defense demanded a sword as long as a man's fore arm with sharpened tips and both edges. Tactics were basically to interlock shields around a squad and fight off attacks by stabbing the opponent through gaps between the shields. Requirements for the tactic required a sharpened point with less emphasis on the edges as they were not intended to be used in battle.

    The WW2 Fairbourne Sykes fighting knife tactics required commandos to sneek up on the enemy and stabbing the enemy. The long thin double edged blade was ideally designed for this tactic. Unfortunately the blade design, 3/16" thick and 3/4" wide at the guard tapering to a tip 12" from the guard leaves a very severe angle which is near impossible to get a shaving sharp edge so again the tip requires the most attention.

    The Ghurka kukuri again involves stealth but the edge is kept razor sharp as the knife is used in a chopping motion aided by the tip heavy design. These knives can remove a man's head in one strike or severely damage any other part of the body

    The last example is the bayonet drill training of the first and second world wars where the tip was used to penetrate the enemy's body and the sharpened edges necessary to cut upwards after the initial penetration.

    So to get back to the point the intended tactics determine the required sharpening for the blade used. A slicing attack with some variety of knife that is not designed for the tactics taught will probably not be sucessful.

    PS in order to get the sharpest edge the blade has to be thin to the point of weakening it dangerously.

    There is no such thing as an all purpose knife, each job has it's own requirements and knife design to handle those requirements.