When you ask people about important inventions in the world, most of them will give you lots of answers, such as computers, cars, smartphones, and other high-tech items. But there is one invention that most people do not think of that much, but it is actually one of the most important things that we use almost every day, which is the knife. It is not just used for cutting ingredients when cooking, as it can also be used as a weapon for survival and as a tool for doing different tasks.
Knives are among the earliest tools used by people. In fact, they appeared more than 2 million years ago. In the present time, they serve different purposes, such as cooking, hunting, combating, and even for sports and entertainment. If you are eager to learn more about knives, you’re in the right place. Read on as we’re giving you the ultimate guide to knives.
Brief History of Knives
Knives have been used as tools, weapons, and eating utensils since primitive periods. Archeologists have found sharp-edged tools as ancient as 2.6 million years old, which is even older than Homo sapiens. This means that our bipedal ancestors found out that life was much easier with knives. With this, the history of knows started at a very early stage in the development of human civilization.
Knives during the primitive era were not very refined. This is because they were usually made from cracking stones to make a sharp blade-type edge, which was the same method used in making spearheads and arrowheads. Even though these tools were quite primitive, they allowed our predecessors to hunt, fish, and as well as defend themselves from dangerous animals and harvest and process food.
After the appearance of Homo sapiens, knives and blades became more refined. During the late Lithic periods, sharp stone tools became more advanced in design, and different techniques were used to make such ‘knives’ in the Neolithic era.
The Bronze and Copper ages followed after that, which brought marvelous changes to sharp-edge technology. Compared to stones, these metal tools were more durable, and they made mining and metal processing an important activity. The mining of these minerals opened up new trade routes, which increased communication among groups and cultures. This means that knives have a major influence on the development of human civilization. However, compared to stone knives, metal knives are less durable, and they can’t keep their sharpness long. With this, sharpening stones were used to maintain the sharpness of metal knives.
After the Bronze and Copper Ages, the Iron age came, which began around 3500 years ago. The processing of iron was an immeasurable step forward in human technology. It’s because the use of iron meant that tools were durable and much stronger. Compared to stone, copper, or bronze knives, iron knives kept their shape and sharp edges much better and longer. With this, its use spread quickly.
In the present time, iron alloy steel is the material that is commonly used in knives and other sharp weapons. They are made by rubbing carbon, in the form of wood ash, onto the iron blade during the blade-making process. In addition to this, there are also new materials being used, especially when making kitchen knives, such as titanium blades and cobalt alloys. But among these, steel blades are still considered the most durable and efficient to use.
The creation of different types of knives followed as time passed. One example is the invention of the folding knife, which was about 600 years ago. Today, we can see that they have surely improved, as they now have better mechanisms, handle designs, and stronger attachments.
No matter how much change knives underwent throughout the years, and no matter what materials were used, the concept of how they are used remains the same.
If you are searching for more information about knives in history, you can click on the following links below:
Types of Knife Blades
In the present time, there are many different types of blades used for knives. They are manufactured from a variety of materials, and each has pros and cons. Here are some of them:
- Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Knives made of carbon steel can be very sharp. However, the downside is that they are vulnerable to rust and stains.
- Stainless Steel: This one is an alloy of iron, chromium, and sometimes nickel and molybdenum. It only contains a small amount of carbon. It is not as sharp as carbon steel, but it is highly resistant to rust.
- High Carbon Stainless Steel: This is a type of stainless steel that has a higher amount of carbon. This type of knife blade does not stain or discolor. It can also maintain a sharp edge.
- Laminated Blades: This type of blade uses multiple metals to make a layered sandwich, combining the attributes of both. For example, a harder, more brittle steel can be placed between an outer layer of softer, tougher stainless steel to make it less vulnerable to rust.
- Damascus Steel: This one is a form of pattern welding that is quite the same as laminate construction. Layers of various steel types are welded together, and the stock is manipulated to make patterns in the steel.
- Titanium: This is a kind of metal that is stronger and more wear-resistant. It is also more flexible compared to steel. However, it is softer and unable to take as sharp an edge.
- Ceramic Blades: These blades are hard, brittle, but lightweight. They can maintain a sharp edge for years without any maintenance. However, they are fragile and can break like glass when dropped on a hard surface.
- Plastic Blades: These are not sharp and are usually serrated. Most of the time, they are disposable and used only on soft foods, such as for cutting cakes.
- Fixed–Blade Knives: These are also called sheath knives. They are the type of knives which blades do not fold nor slide. They are stronger because of the tang, which is the extension of the blade into the handle.
- Folding Blade Knives: Folding knives connect the blade to the handle through a pivot. This enables the blade to fold into the handle. It is great to prevent injury to the knife user, as they usually have a locking mechanism.
- Sliding Blades: There are also knives that are opened by sliding the blade out the front of the handle. It is commonly used in Stanley knives or boxcutters.
If you’d like to learn more about knife blades and as well as how you can improve and take care of them, here are some helpful links that you can check out:
- Guide to Knife Steel
- What are the Different Parts of a Knife?
- Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Knives Sharpened
- How to Improve the Quality of Knives
Types of Knife Handles
Even the handles of knives can also be made using different materials. Each of these types of handles also has advantages and disadvantages. They also come in different shapes, styles, and textures, which are often used to enhance grip. Here are some of them:
- Wooden Handles: This type of knife handle provides a good grip to the user. It is also warm in hand. However, knives with wooden handles are usually challenging to care for as they do not resist water well. When exposed long to water, they may crack or warp.
- Plastic Handles: Compared to wooden handles, knives with plastic handles are easier to care for. However, they can be slippery to hold and might become brittle in time.
- Injection Molded Handles: These types of knife handles are made using higher-grade plastics. They are also reinforced with fiberglass. Many major knife manufacturers use this type of material for knife handles.
- Rubber Handles: Many people choose rubber handles for knives as they are more durable and have cushioning nature.
- Micarta: Micarta refers to any fibrous material cast in resin. It is a popular material for knife handles due to its stability and toughness.
- Leather: Leather handles are mostly seen on military and hunting knives. They are made by stacking leather washers or, less commonly, as a sleeve surrounding another type of handle material.
- Skeleton: This pertains to the use of the tang itself as the handle, mostly with parts of material removed to reduce weight. These are usually wrapped with a parachute cord or other wrapping materials to improve grip.
- Stainless Steel and Aluminum: Both of these types of handles are sanitary and durable. However, they can be slippery. With this, manufacturers make stainless steel, and aluminum knife handles with bumps, ridges, and indentations to provide extra grip. Also, when using these in cold climates, ensure that you wear gloves and protective handwear as metal is an excellent heat conductor.
Different Types of Knives
In our article about How to Use Different Types of Knives, we’ve mentioned the different uses of kitchen knives. But aside from those, there are many other types of knives out there, and they are used for different tasks. To give you some ideas, here are the different types of knives:
1. Weapon Knives
When it comes to combat and self-defense, knives are universally adopted as an important tool. Here are some of the different types of weapon knives:
- Ballistic Knife: This is a combat knife that has a detachable gas or spring-propelled blade. It can be fired to a distance of several feet or meters by just pressing a button or switch on its handle.
- Bayonet: This is a knife-shaped combat weapon that is made to attach to the muzzle of a rifle or similar firearm.
- Butterfly Knife: This is a folding pocket knife that has two counter-rotating handles where the blades are hidden within the grooves.
- Combat Knife: A combat knife is any knife used by soldiers in the field. It can be a general-use tool but is also used for fighting.
- Dagger: This is a single-edged or double-edged combat knife used for thrusting or stabbing.
- Fighting Knife: This is a type of knife that has a blade made to inflict a lethal injury during a physical confrontation by two or more individuals at very short range.
- Sword: The sword is an evolution of the knife. It has a longer and stronger blade that is primarily used for melee combat and as well as hunting.
If you are interested to learn more about knives used as weapons, you can read some related articles by clicking on the links below:
- What is a Neck Knife?
- What is a Dagger?
- Guide to Belt Knives
- Ultimate Guide to Hunting Knives
- Ultimate Guide to Survival Knives
2. Kitchen Knives
There are many different knives that are being used in the kitchen. This is because one knife may be effective for one type of food but may not work well on others. This means that it is important that you have the right kind of kitchen knife for each task when cooking or preparing food. To give you ideas, here are some of the basic types of kitchen knives:
- Chef Knife: A chef knife is also sometimes called a cook’s knife. It features a long, broad blade with a straight edge. It is widest across its heel, narrowing up to a pointed tip. This knife is perfect for chopping and dicing vegetables. It is also a versatile kitchen knife that is perfect for your everyday dicing and mincing tasks.
- Utility Knife: A utility kitchen knife is smaller than a chef knife. It is used for chopping smaller pieces of food and vegetables. It offers more precise cutting work.
- Paring Knife: A paring knife features a short, slim, and evenly-sized blade that has a pointed tip. It is used to chop, cut, and slice fruits and vegetables. It can also be used in peeling, trimming, and removing seeds.
- Bread Knife: A bread knife features a long and evenly sized blade that has a sharp serrated edge. It is perfect for sawing through different types of bread, such as baguettes, crusty bread, bread rolls, and bagels. It can cut through softer textures without ruining the shape of the food.
- Carving knife: This knife is perfect when it comes to serving meats like pork and beef. It can produce thin and even slices. It can also be used to cut larger fruits and vegetables like melons.
- Butcher Knife: A butcher knife or a cleaver is used in chopping up raw meat to divide them into smaller portions before cooking. It has a large and heavy design that can cut through bone, making it perfect for raw meat preparation.
- Boning Knife: A boning knife is used in cutting meat bones and trimming cartilages. It has a pointed and slim blade that can cut around the bone effectively without ruining the surrounding meat.
- Peeling Knife: A peeling knife features a short and slightly curved blade. It is used to peel vegetables and fruits. It can also slice through tough skins.
- Salmon Knife: A salmon knife has a long and flexible blade with a double edge. It is made to fillet larger fish. It is slender enough to fit between the skin and flesh of the fish without damaging it. It helps in making clean and tidy fish fillets.
These are just a few of the many kinds of kitchen knives out there. If you want to see the complete list, you can click on the links below:
- Ultimate Guide to Kitchen and Cooking Knives
- What are the Major Kitchen Knife Brands?
- A Buying Guide to Kitchen Knife Sets
3. Tool Knives
Knives can also take many forms as a utility tool. Here are some examples of tool knives:
- Bushcraft Knife: A bushcraft knife has a strong and fixed blade, and it is commonly used by campers when staying in the wilderness.
- Karambit: This is a knife that has a curved blade that resembles a tiger’s claw. It is used as an agricultural tool and as well as a weapon.
- Head Knife or Round Knife: This type of tool knife has a semicircular blade that is used in ancient times to cut leather.
- Electrician’s Knife: This one is a short-bladed knife that is used to cut electrical insulation.
- Folding Knife: A folding knife features one or more blades that fit inside the handle. It is a portable type of knife that is useful during emergency situations.
- Machete: A machete is a large, heavy knife that is used to cut through thick vegetation like sugar cane.
- Paper Knife: A paper-knife is sometimes called a letter opener. It can be made of either plastic or metal and is used for opening mail.
- Pocket Knife: A pocket knife is a multi-tool that can be carried in a pants pocket. One example is the Swiss Army knife.
- Survival Knife: This is a strong knife that has a hollow handle filled with survival equipment.
- Utility Knife: A utility knife is a short knife that has replaceable blades. It is used for cutting paperboard and opening boxes.
For more information about knives used as tools for various tasks, check out the article links that we have below:
- What are the Key Parts of an Axe?
- Utility Knives: A Detailed Guide for Buyers
- Pocket Knives: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide
- The Best Knives to Have in an Emergency Situation
- Incredibly Useful Multi-Tools
- Top Everyday Carry Pocket Knives
4. Knife for Sports
Aside from using knives in the kitchen, in combat, and on other tasks around the house, did you know that they are also used in sports? There is a type of knife called throwing knife, which is designed and weighted for throwing. It is used for the sport called Knife Throwing, which is considered a combat skill, sport, art, and entertainment. To learn more about it, you can read our Introduction to Knife Throwing.
A knife is indeed one of the most important and useful items in our lives. Without it, it will be difficult for us to prepare and cook food as we do not have anything to use to cut and chop fruits and vegetables. It is amazing to know that one tool can have so many uses. From being a kitchen tool, workshop tool, survival tool, and combat tool, knives truly had a big impact on our everyday lives. We hope that this helps you in learning more about knives. And if you need more information about them, click here.