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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been doing some “outside of the box” thinking about hunting knife design. If you can put up with some background history of how I got to this way of thinking, I would like to explain my thoughts and ask for some opinions from some of the experienced hunters here. I may be way off base with my thoughts, or I may be on to something.

I have been making knives as a hobby for over 20 years and have been fortunate enough to use some of them on deer. As I use them I evaluate how they perform and then I go and tweak the design, or I then try something totally different.

Now I realize that just about any knife would work for field dressing and skinning a deer. You could even use a strait razor or box knife in a pinch. However the modern drop point skinner works very well for it's intended purpose. It does not work well for boning or butchering though, and most of the time is spent in the boning and butchering process. The field dressing and skinning can be done very quickly (just search You Tube) and hardly any mention is ever given to the boning knife. My thought is that there has to be a good design that works well for field dressing, skinning, boning and butchering a deer.

So let's start off with the first experience I had with processing an animal. My grandfather would use an Old Timer Sharp Finger for butchering cows. It did not hold a very good edge though. So I made my own version (the one below). The blade is four inches long by 1/8 inch thick and it is cut from a piece of one inch wide steel. It works well for skinning deer, but the swept up point kind of gets in the way for gutting and it's not too good for cutting around the anus. It is still very popular though and many people ask me to make them one, but it is just not my preference.




So then I tried a drop point blade. That is when I started noticing that the length to width ratio of the blade made a difference. For instance, I found that if a blade was under 3.5 inches and was an inch wide, I still felt as if I had control of the blade. With my for finger behind the spine of the knife, I could use the back of my hand and finger to push the stomach down and out of the way while opening a deer up. If the blade was any longer though, it felt like it was hard to control and was much more difficult to use. If the blade was ½ inch or less wide it could be four to five inches long and I could still pull up on the hide and slide the knife between the stomach and hide without having to push the stomach out of the way. The wide blades are also more difficult to make those sharp turns with, such as around the anus. The knife blade below was 4 inches long by 1 inch wide and a little too long for it's width. At least for my liking.




I originally made the knife below as a “bird and trout” knife, but I found it to be a great design for field dressing deer. It worked well for skinning as well. It is narrow enough to be maneuverable and the length wasn't too short. The only complaint was that it didn't work for boning or butchering. The blade was 1/8 of an inch thick so it was very stout.




The knife shown below was my last knife to finish. I used it on this year's deer. It worked quite well, but it is not my final revision. The blade is 1/16" thick by four inches long and had a fair amount of flex. It was a little too stiff and short for filleting some of the silver skin off of the larger cuts of meat. The blade shape worked quite well for skinning. The up-swept point wasn't too dramatic for gutting, but I did have to be extra careful not to puncture anything that I would regret. When opening up the hide on the legs, the point dug into the calf meat, but that is all hamburger anyways so I wasn't too concerned.



I guess I can only have four images per post, so I will have to show you my latest design in another posting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Below is my next attempt. They both have the same blade shapes, but with different handles. The blades are five inches long by ½ inch wide by 1/16 inch thick. This should provide for good flexibility and maneuverability. I know that they look like a normal boning knife, but the blades have a bit of a drop to them as compared to most boning knives that have a straight back. They are also more flexible than most boning knives. It is kind of a mix between a fillet knife and a boning knife with a drop point. Since I have to wait a whole year to try them out, I was hoping that you guys could give me some thoughts and feedback.

 

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Awesome hobby indeed, I admire you people with knife making skills.
I also use 2 knives when field dressing, I use a small thin folding fillet knife for the anal cut, it works very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you. It would be interesting to see how many people use a fillet or boning knife out in the field.
 

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I like fix blade knives for field work and once I pull the 1/4ers off then the boning knives take over.
HM I agree but we do use a fillet knife for butchering also
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I finished up a couple more boning/fillet knives yesterday. The disclaimer here is that I purchased the blades and just installed the handles. They looked like they would work well for boning even though they were not sold as such. The top one has a seven inch blade and is very flexible. It definitely has too much of a sweep to the blade to be useful as a field knife, but I thought that it would be worth a try for boning/butchering. The bottom one is actually sold as a steak knife but I thought that it would work well for boning. It's blade is five inches long by 1/16" thick. It is pretty stout and not as flexible as one would think. For the price it was worth a try.



 

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When cutting up steaks and cleaning burger meat I like a sharp fillet knife. I have a draw full of fish knives that work well on game once the 1/4's are on the table. I always wanted to do a couple of knives and I have some nice grained walnut slab wood with a lot of colors in it for handles if I can ever get started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When cutting up steaks and cleaning burger meat I like a sharp fillet knife. I have a draw full of fish knives that work well on game once the 1/4's are on the table. I always wanted to do a couple of knives and I have some nice grained walnut slab wood with a lot of colors in it for handles if I can ever get started.
It's easy to get started if you purchase the blades already finished. Then you just need simple tools for working the handle. I get most of my supplies from Texas Knifemaker's Supply. They have a good selection of finished blades if your not set up or ready to grind the steel yourself. It is fun use a knife that you made on the deer that you harvested.
 

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Appreciate the info. :yes: Some of the walnut stock I have has the black and purple coloring in it and a cazillion other blends of color. I picked it out just for knife handles. Brother-in-law let me go through a pile of old stock his dad had. I think it would make for some nice/fun evening work. I have some wood working tools for rough shaping like a vertical disk/belt sander to do some of the rough stuff. Maybe it's time to do a small new project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That sounds like some really nice wood. A vertical belt sander would work great. How wide is it? Let me know if you decide to try it. I could probably give you a few tips that may save some headaches.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That would get you started on it for sure. You'll have to post some pics of the wood and the project once you start.
 

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Have a family member thats been making knifes and the sheaths for some time, I know for a while he was making his own blades he cut out of used industrial size band saw blades. Man could he get them sharp! He also bought bare blades and also just removed the handles from some just to make custom horn or wood ones. He gave all of us one back a few years ago, I'll pull it out n post a pic later
 

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Although it is not impossible, it would be most difficult to utilize only one knife to process a deer from the field to the freezer and do it with the efficiency of 2 select knives. I use 2 knives to seal the deal. one of them is most ideal for freeing the anus during the field dressing procedure and for doing most if not all of the butchering and boning. the other knife does ok for preliminary skinning and field dressing, the blade, however is much longer than I would like. It would be much nicer if it where only half as long. see attached below.
Interesting note, the boning knife was used by my dad for filleting fish some 40 years ago. I talked with a sales rep from Cutco at the Wisconsin deer and turkey show last spring and he informed me the knife was a first production knife in that model and was over 50 years old.
 

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