Slip Joint Knives

Education

Another major consideration you must make when searching for the right pocket knife is what type of knife you are interested in.  Most pocket knives are what are known as slip joint knives.  A slip joint knife has a flat bar or a left-type backspring that puts tension on the blade, holding it in place.  The knife can then be closed when a certain amount of pressure is applied to the knife.  Most of these knives have only one blade because of the space needed for the mechanism needed to keep the knife open.

Over time different versions of the slip joint knife have become popular.  Here is a rundown of some of the more common types.

Slip Joint Knives

The Barlow knife is usually a 2 bladed knife that is known for its long bolster. These knives have been around for over 300 years and even have the prestige of being mentioned in stories by Mark Twain. Their handles are typically an elongated oval and some are made of rare and expensive materials, thus increasing the price dramatically.
Camper knives are well known due to the popular Swiss Army Knife. The tell-tale signs of a camper knife are usually a large spear point blade, accompanied by tools like a can opener, screw driver and a punch blade. Sometimes there are other tools included too.
The Canoe knife gets its name from the look of the body, which resembles a Native American canoe. These knives usually contain 2 spear point blades, although some come with a spear point blade and a pen blade.
The Congress knife has a convex shape on the front and the back can either be straight or convex. Most come with 4 blades; common arrangement is a spear point, a sheepsfoot, coping and pen blades. There are many stories as to how it got its name. The definition for congress is “a coming together, or an assembly”. So the one thought is that because all four blades come together to meet in the middle it was referred to a congress.
Elephant’s Toenail (Elephant’s Foot, English Rope Knife, Pocket Axe or Sunfish Knife) - This is one of the larger pocket knives available and can usually be found around 4-5 inches in length. The blades are usually very large, wide blades and there are usually two blades.
Peanut - This knife is a very small knife, thus the name. Normally because of their size, they only have one or two blades, with the two blade model being more common. The reason they are fairly popular is because you get a couple types of blades in a relatively small package.
The Opinel is a knife of French origin, that is simple in design and was made as a working man’s knife. It’s typically made of a solid wood handle, usually beechwood with a single blade. When the blade is extended, it has a stainless steel locking ring to hold it in place. It’s also well known because Pablo Picasso used an Opinel to carve his sculptures.
Another of the “working man’s” knives, the Sodbuster is a simple single blade knife that is known for feeling very comfortable in the hand as well as being very inexpensive. Simply put they are all that you will need and nothing that you don’t want.
This knife is one that you would likely recognize in the US. Most of our grandparents and fathers would have a Stockman on them. A Stockman has 3 blades, often a clip, sheepsfoot and a spey blade. These blades were carried by cowboys and farmers back in the west and the spey blade was used to castrate livestock.
The Trapper knife is made up of 2 blades, usually similar in length. One is a clip blade and the other a spey blade. The clip blade is used for everyday use and the spey blade was designed to use cleaning and skinning animals.
Whittler knives are just what you would think they are. Knives made for whittling. They usually have 3 blades and are designed for different details while whittling.

And keep in mind that these are just the Slip Joint knives.  There are other styles of knives available which we will discuss in a later post.

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