An often overlooked part of a survival blade is the back, or spine. With the proper grind, the back can provide an edge that saves the razor edge for other uses.
by Leon Pantenburg
It’s easy to ignore the dull part of the knife blade. But the spine, ground correctly, can becomes another useful part of the knife.
Before you consider buying a blade, here’s some spine grinds you don’t want:
No guthook: A guthook is a specialized grind that is designed to be used in a few specialized cuts while field dressing a big game animal. Other then a few times every year, the guthook is just an impediment. The hook, if properly sharpened, could also hook your hand or clothing. The hook eliminates any other use of the spine. If you must have a guthook, get a specialty one, apart from your main survival/hunting knife. The seperate guthook will do the specialty cuts you want it to, and you won’t have to deal with the hook on your blade.
No saw blade: For a saw to work, it must have opposing teeth that protrude out from the sides of the blade. This will cause excess wear on the sheath, and may catch your hand or clothing. Also, the back of a six-inch blade would most likely only have a saw length of three to four inches. This means the saw stroke would be very short and inefficient. Get a real folding saw and avoid screwing up your knife. Hunters Specialties Folding Saw
No dagger edge: Probably one of the most effective fighting knife grind configurations is the spear point with two sharpened edges. Check out old swords or daggers at museums – you’ll find the majority are some variation of this style. These are commonly referred to as “stickers,” since they were commonly used to thrust into a pig’s jugular vein to kill it before butchering. This sticker grind could potentially be dangerous to the untrained or unaware user, without a lot of practice.
I prefer a spine that is ground with 90 degree angles, like an ice skate is sharpened. I suppose you could manage to cut yourself with this grind, if you tried hard enough, but I’ve never had a problem.
I like this configuration because you can use the ice skate edge for scraping bark off tree limbs, shredding tinder and shaving pitchwood off a block. In a pinch, you can use the 90-degree angle to scrape a ferrocerium rod. to make sparks for firemaking. I don’t typically use the spine as a ferro scraper, since the sparks can be 5,000 degrees. Regular scraping will inevitably hurt the knife.
The best knife for you is composed of a variety of components. Don’t forget to look at the spine when you’re shopping!