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Deciding on the Number of Blades for a Folding Pocketknife

Deciding on the Number of Blades for a Folding Pocketknife

Here’s an axiom you can bank on: There is no such thing as a singular “perfect” knife, one that clearly stands above all others and excels in any situation that you can throw at it. Similarly, you can’t conclude that just because the ideal knife doesn’t exist that any blade is as good as another. Every knife ever created is the result of numerous decisions made, characteristics chosen, and options ignored by a knifemaker. This proves doubly true when considering folding knives, a category where creativity and diversity abound.

Folders have existed for a very, very long time, and that means you can likely discover just about any kind of option you desire. Do you want a folding knife with a noose-like band of metal that holds the blade open? How maximizing ease of carrying with a titanium handle? Would you prefer blade with a matte-black finish or a brilliant sheen or the oil-slick beauty of Damascus steel? You can have all of them, but one of the most important choices you can make when buying a folding knife is the number of blades you’d like it to have.

Do You Need to Do a Lot of Different Kinds of Tasks with Your Knife?

The point of an everyday carry (EDC) knife is that it’s supposed to work in pretty much any situation you’d find yourself in on a regular basis. Maybe you have a particularly *interesting* routine, though, one that necessitates a lot of versatility. Perhaps you live in a farm or like to garden or simply want to tackle any task that happens to come your way. Whatever the reason, a single blade probably won’t help you all that much whereas multi-blade options will keep you prepared for any eventuality. Just consider the case of the the F.W. Holler Company’s baffling folder that contained, well, just about everything.

According to Wired, the principal of the company, one John S. Holler, decided that he wanted to expand during the late 19th century, and to get the word out about his wares, he created an astonishing display piece with 100 (yes, you read that correctly) different functions. Measuring 10 inches long, six inches wide, and four inches deep, it contained blades and tools like a dagger, a corkscrew, shears, a cigar cutter, various writing implements, a tuning fork, and even a very small and very functional .22 revolver. None of us would ever need such an impractical implement, but much more modest examples exist and can cover just about any need.

Do You Need to Use Your Knife in Rough Situations or Extreme Environments?

The more moving parts a thing has, the greater the chance of trouble. With their thicker width, multiple blades, and lots of nooks and crannies that complicate cleaning, multi-blade knives are just less robust than their simpler counterparts. For instance, many single-blade folding knives have locking mechanisms of some sort, be they the classic spine lock, the simple and functional liner lock, the push-and-go button

lock, or the idiosyncratic collar lock. Each of these locks offer varying benefits and possess different drawbacks — but at least they exist. Multi-blade knives simply don’t have them, making them less reliable when stability is a necessity.

Similarly, knives with lots of blades and tools introduce complexity where it’s needed least as far as robustness is concerned. Note the profiles of most folding survival knives, how they are slim and streamlined, offering only mildly impactful features such as dark DLC coating, a partially serrated edge, a notch in the handle in which is secreted an emergency seatbelt cutter, or a thumb stud for fast opening. None of these embellishments hinder such blades when they’re needed in a rainy campsite while precipitation turns the earth to puddled mud and the mercury starts to fall. They just do one thing when you need it. Contrast that to multi-bladed knives, which may be able to do lots of things and which seem to draw grit, grime, and gunk into themselves as though magnetized. Throw in the challenge of opening them in less-than-ideal environments, and you can see where single blades would be preferable.

Do You Have Highly Specialized Tasks to Perform?

Suppose that you were a farmer who had to manage livestock among many other duties. You carried with you a standard enough drop-point knife, and it worked well when opening feed bags, cutting twine, or getting rid of a nasty splinter. But when time came to trim your sheep’s hooves, you made an unpleasant discovery: The sharp end of your drop point tended to puncture the keratin, inadvertently harming the animal. If only you had a special knife whose shape minimized its poky point …

Of course, just such a knife shape exists, and it’s called (appropriately enough) the sheepsfoot. Its blunt nose eliminates the point as much as possible, and it’s a common style found on small two- or three-blade folders. Anecdotally, it’s also one of the least-used blades on those styles of knives — at least by people who don’t know what they’re for. But for agricultural types, manual laborers, and anyone who doesn’t want to accidentally stab himself or someone else? It’s wonderful.

The sheepsfoot is just one example of a multi-blade phenomenon, namely that they come in so many styles that you can find one configured for almost any task, no matter how seemingly esoteric. When one blade can’t aid you with what you need to do, consider a multi-bladed knife.

Is Expense an Issue?

It’s tough talking about expense in regard to knives. One person’s “expensive” is another’s “reasonably priced.” There aren’t really any hard and fast rules about pricing, either. You can find high-quality knives that cost little and poorly made blades that are expensive. The same holds true for the prices of single-blade and multi-blade knives, but in general, multi-blade knives will cost more. If expense is really an issue, then consider a single-blade knife.

No matter your budget, the folding knives at TacKnives won’t bankrupt you. We pride ourselves on providing excellent quality at a reasonable price.

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