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Best blade profile for cutting hay string?


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Howdy folks!

A good friend of mine wants me to make him a custom fixed blade carry knife primarily for cutting hay string on round bales.  He wants to be able to slash across the entire bale, so not looking for a hook shape or something that would be prone to getting caught. Any thoughts on the best design for a blade of this purpose?  He was thinking about something with a blunt looking (but sharpened) tip, but I’m curious what blade profiles some of y’all would go with.  

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I agree with IDF&C. I couldn't find a picture of it but When I worked at a rubber refinery we used a knife shaped like a saex with a round wooden handle to open everything from pallets of rubber blocks, bags of silica, cut ingredients to weight for the batches and everything in between. It was basically a long extra thick single edged razorblade with a wooden handle. 

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The seax/sax would be a good start. I would add some belly to the blade and make sure there is finger clearance at the handle so your friend can use the entire edge and not snag knuckles on the bales.

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Also, I would temper the blade harder than I would for a general use knife.  My reasons for this are two.  1) Hay is pretty abrasive and dulling to blades because of the silica in the stems of the hay and will dull a blade faster than other materials.  I'm assuming that the strings would be cut with a slicing motion into the bale rather than getting the tip under the string and cutting out. Therefore, a harder temper will resist dulling better.  2) The knife will be less subject to lateral stresses than a general use knife and can be a little less tough and a little more brittle.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I was thinking of an alloy like 154CM or 52100 if you are comfortable working with them and can do the appropriate heat treat.  Might present the finished blade with a diamond hone...

However; I am also of the belief that any blade a farmer or rancher has on them will get used/abused for ALL tasks to hand!

(My Grandfather carried a barlow knife on his farm. When a local hardware store in NJ went out of business, my mother bought all the barlow knives they had and gave them to all his grandchildren.)

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Hitting a hay bale with a zwiehander is a bit like chasing a pig.  Ineffective and it annoys the pig. Ask me how I know. 

Incidentally, to catch a pig, train them ahead of time to follow treats, or get them blind drunk on cheap vodka mixed into mash.  Of course then you have to move a drunk 300 lb. pig that can't stand up on its own from the middle of a muddy field.  Whee.....

You brought back some bad memories, Thomas. I made a 5160 wire jack for daily carry on the farm, and tempered it a bit soft on the spine, on the theory that I would abuse the heck out of it.  It took sharpening often with as much as it got used, but it survived the farm (now my ex's farm), the railroad, and the Army.  Got used for everything.  The first thing I used it for was well, to kill a pig.  Also on chickens, as a screwdriver, auto repair, cut hoses or wire, making rabbet joints on hive parts, to spread cream cheese on bagels, opening feed sacks...you name it. 

I made a small knife with a seax style blade, but I really didn't like it for farm work. I found I could slice stuff more readily with a bit of a belly on the blade.  I had to finally sit the thing aside the other day so I could regrind the bevel (it wore high enough to be a bit wide) and put a new rivet in it.

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I really like a tanto style blade for a "slicing" style cut. The small angle on the bottom of the blade is excellent for it, and it leaves the point for digging under if needed.

Tanto-BT-White-BG-crop.jpg

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On 10/17/2020 at 8:48 AM, Nobody Special said:

then you have to move a drunk 300 lb. pig that can't stand up on its own from the middle of a muddy field. 

That's easy, roll out two truck tires thread the 300lb loose as jello, pig through the tires and roll him home. Talk about a well lubricated axle!

I don't believe in chasing livestock at all. I carry treats and if one gets pushy I also carry a squirt bottle of 50/50 vinegar mix as negative reinforcement. It's not enough vinegar to do damage but sure is unpleasant to get a nose and eyes full. It even works on those untrainably stupid balls of fuzzy suet called sheep. Yes, you CAN train sheep if it's a simple enough lesson. Be polite to get fed, push it and get squirted. 

Just make the fellow a short bladed, 3" maybe, straight edged knife in a utility knife / seax pattern. It needs enough blade to stay in a sheath. That or a bearded ax. Can you imagine trying to slip between the wires on a fence carrying a zwiehander, especially if being chased by an angry steer? Don't count on a big sword being enough deterrent to save you from a charging critter. Better be good at swinging it and hitting your target. Hint, between a steer's eyes will NOT work.

Frosty The Lucky.

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George, A locking, folding pocket knife, but the body of the knife is made from something like a .25" or .375" round rod, usually flattened on the side, and the attachment point for the blade is flattened into an offset medallion, like the half-penny on a scroll. There's a small place filed out in the top back of the blade, which holds the blade open with the body acting as a spring.  Schrade used to make a very ugly one. There's an older Gary Huston video showing him making one somewhere; I can't find it.  This is one of my early ones, if you couldn't tell by the terrible pairs of tongs.

 

Frosty, with pigs, I rarely got close enough to use vinegar until they were hammered.  Those boogers are fast, and in the case of piglets when they stop in the grass, invisible.45991412_Tongsandknife.thumb.jpg.2d3eab97aff45ec4ee68f19fb905629a.jpg

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Wire  jack knife      as a search string showed results right from the top!  I always assured folks I had washed my knife after skinning something before eating lunch with it.

I would not call that blade "tanto style"; I guess I've seen too many real ones in the museums and reference works.  I believe Cold Steel introduced that blade shape into the USA and folks though they knew what they were doing.  (The abrupt end angle was used  in Japan but on very few of the tantos.  Sort of like saying all cars should look like the Edsel).  I know I'm picky; just ignore me.  I really winced during the "tanto fad" back several decades ago when they were calling everything a tanto---Knives 19XX even showed a "Viking Tanto"; sigh.)

Pigs: I prefer mine ready to go on the spit over the hickory fire.  (I once came up with a set of spits that would lock into each other to do a butterflied pig with handles on the ends for flipping. El Rancho de las Golondrinas living history farm had an event my wife spun at and I helped out a historical cooking maven/friend with the open fire cooking.)

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Cutting bale net isn’t to bad except we’re it roles around the corner. Any fat bellied skinner works. I being a dedicated knife abuser I would recommend an “American Tanto” style, that is a 45 deg tip blended into a curved blade belly. As to steels, those hard to sharpen stainlesses that first came out in the 80’s work well because they are wear resistant steels, just hard to sharpen without a diamond stone. Further a 4” blade seems to fit most tasks. But 90% of the time it’s either the inch closest to handle or the tip see the most work except in the case of bale net or skinning hogs (honestly a carpet blade work great on scalded and scraped hogs getting the rind to render the strips for checheronies. 

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Nobody:  Thanks.  I'm familiar with that style, I just didn't know the term.  Interestingly enough, I have been looking at making a similar sort of a knife using a folded horse shoe as a handle with a piece of spring steel sandwiched between for a latch for a horsey friend.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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