Blade Style: Wharncliffe | One Folding Knife One Blade: Your Choice?
Blade style: Wharncliffe blades are an overlooked style which deserves a better place in knifedom!
No matter how much we like something, most of us are still looking for ways to improve it. Little things, to just make something that tiny little bit more usable, more beautiful, more practical, it is just human nature to do so. It is also human nature to seek things that will work better, faster or easier. That is one of the ways we make progress as human beings.
Sometimes we want a tool that will make a specific task or type of task easier. Often we invent things that will only do one job, and sometimes that is the very best thing, like human specialization. I don’t want my brain surgeon to also be a part-time plumber. There is, however, a rational for having a very “generalist” approach to many things, often in spite of the everyday use of the division of labor.
What if you had a multi-tool that would do everything? Wouldn’t that be great? Well, we have some of those types of tools, things like Victorinox swiss army knives, and Leatherman tools, and the wonderful devices we carry in our pockets or on our hips that will give us time, directions, information, and thousands of other functions including such practical things as flashlights and levels!
Limitations of generalization
In spite of this utopia we have, the problems persist. We may get close to having something for everything and every use, but the problem is that these devices will never do any one thing quite as well as the one thing that was designed to do it. With my leatherman or Victorinox, I can not put the amount of torque on an electrical connection that I would like to have to assure it’s long term stability without arching! Furthermore, my pocket knife is not insulated. I can not remove a lug nut with my Leatherman.
While these tools are nice, and I own and use them regularly for small, daily, regular, non-life threatening purposes, they can never truly be everything you need.
Special and general
Much better to find a tool that will do the one major operation for which it is intended with enough versatility to perform all of those types of operation.
I want a blade that will do everything you would reasonably expect a knife blade to do. A sharp enough point to allow me to pierce, drill, thrust, and jab, with a tip that can be turned downward comfortably without having to get into an awkward or dangerous position to cut fine notches and carvings while maintaining good control of the tip. Something that one could use to shave, or to scrape, or to dispatch an animal, and skin an animal with the same blade. The specialty is cutting. The general part is that it would be nice to have a single knife, that would do all the cutting operations and other knifey things!
The one tool many blades approach
Most of my life I have preferred the three blade system of the typical stockman type knife in it’s largest configurations. A clip point blade for stabbing, thrusting, boring, or piercing, a spey type blade for skinning and slicing, and a sheep’s foot blade for fine controlled cutting, trimming, carving, and even shaving. Such knives are often expensive and often problematic. There are a lot of blades vying for the same space, and if everything is not just right, it can be frustrating.
I also love the 4 blade congress knife with sheep foot blades, pen and or jack blades, and the standard issue coping blade.
It is great to have such variety, but what if you could have only one folding knife and only one blade on that knife? What would you choose? Would you pick a pen or jack, or spear, or a drop point? Would you choose a sheep foot, coping, skinner or a spey?
After years of looking for the perfect multi-purpose, do everything blade, I finally found it right under my nose! It is the old, at one time nearly forgotten Wharncliffe blade!
What is the nature of this blade to which Lord Wharncliffe loaned his name? Well, it is a nearly flat blade, flat like a razor with no rise on the terminal point. It has a long slow curve from the top of the blade which tends to vary from maker to maker in its curve length. Unlike a sheep’s foot blade, it comes to a distinctive point at the business end where the curve meets the flat of the cutting edge creating a point rather than a 45-degree angle.
It is almost as though the sheep’s foot blade had a much slower downturn. This configuration creates both a straightforward point good for stabbing and jabbing and drilling and a controllable tip for making the most exacting cuts! You now have a nice tip for piercing and a nice downward tip for carving and other delicate work all in the same blade! In a word: Brilliant!
The blade style known as Wharncliffe is the most useful of all blade styles by far! It performs all the knifey cutting and puncturing functions of the other blade styles with the same amount of accuracy as the blades intended specifically for those purposes! Even for tactical purposes:
The Kershaw Leek is advertised as a drop point blade, but as you can see, it is, in fact, a Wharncliffe blade, demonstrating once again the flexibility of this wonderful design!