Do Knives Have a False Edge?

We all know that knives have one very sharp edge that’s designed to make cutting through fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and even denser materials like bone, a breeze. But did you know that some knives have a false edge on the knife blade

But why on earth would a knifemaker put a false edge on the cutting edge of a blade? The truth is that there are many reasons you might see this but keep in mind that it’s not something you’ll see on every blade. Generally speaking, they’re most common on clip point blades, folding knives or a pocket knife.

There are three main reasons that a knife might have a false knife edge: to enhance the tip, to reduce the weight or simply to make it look good.

If you’ve got a knife with a false edge, you might have been wondering why. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for this in a little more detail.

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What Type of Knives Have a False Edge?

While any type of blade could have a false edge, it’s much more common to see this design feature on a clip point blade.

The clip point blade is one where the knife’s spine slopes downwards so that it is towards the pointed tip. Normally, it will align with the tip of the knife along the central axis of the blade. You might see clip point blades that have a straight slope towards the tip whereas others have a very prominent recurve.

One of the most famous types of clip point knives is the Bowie knife. While the overall design can vary a lot, you’ll normally find that these knife blades have a recurved clip point but there are a lot of straight ones about too. In both cases, there may or may not be a false edge.

On a Bowie knife, you will notice that the clip normally only comes around halfway down the blade; sometimes just a third of the way down. It is on this part of the clip that you’ll find that beveled false edge. Note that the false edge will not go any further towards the handle than the clip.

But don’t think that false edges can only be found on clip point knives. There are a ton of different knife types including drop point blades, trailing point points and spey point blades that may have a false edge. There are even some knives that have several false edges around the spine.

What Is a False Edge?

If you speak to a knifemaker then they probably won’t use the term false edge; instead they would call it a swedge. Swedge reduces blade weight. Regardless of the name, this is referring to an area on the knife’s spine that is bevelled and makes it look as though it is sharp, when in reality, it isn’t.

Typically speaking, the false edge will be ground into the spine at a much wider angle than you’d see for an edge that was actually sharp. Their false edge will also be a lot shallower and doesn’t extend all the way down the blade and just the edge.

Is It Possible to Have a Sharp False Edge?

If the false edge was able to be a sharpened cutting edge, it wouldn’t actually be a knife blade with a false edge. However, since this is a bevelled edge then it’s perfectly possible to consider it might be sharpened.

However, whether you can do this will largely be determined by the overall design of the blade. If the result would be a sharp edge on the spine of the knife or top edge, then this would alter the knife and it would essentially become double edged, or a dagger. Daggers are not legal in all parts of the world so this isn’t something you’d want to do.

But even if it is legal to do this, it might not always be the best idea. You see, changing the cutting edge means that the entire blade is altered and this could be dangerous. Imagine sharpening the false edge of a folding knife. The idea of a folding knife is that the blade is covered and protected when not in use. But if there’s a sharp spine facing upwards when the knife is folded, this completely overrides the concept.

Why Do Some Knives Have a False Edge?

As we have learned, not all knives have a false edge. However, there are a good amount that do and the reason for this could be one of several.

Reduce Weight

For knives with longer blades or those with blades that are much thicker than average, the weight can become a problem. While you want your knife to feel sturdy, you don’t want it to weigh you down and feel heavy. This would result in the balance of the knife being totally off and would affect how you use it.

So some knifemakers will add a false edge to reduce the weight of such blades. This improves the balance and makes it much easier to use the knife. You’ll also notice that knives like this suddenly become much more lightweight and comfortable.

In some cases, where the balance needs to be improved in different areas of the knife, the manufacturer will add more than one false edge.

Enhance the Tip

A lot of clip point knives have extremely sharp points according to their intended use. The same can be said for some drop point knives. In this case, adding a false edge removes any right angles on the spine which can make it more effective when needed for stabbing actions.

As well as this, the reduced weight means that the knife is much easier to control and far more nimble. You might commonly see this on things like hunting knives as getting through the animal skin is much easier with this design. Moreover, when the user needs to move the knife smoothly through the kill, the false edge allows for this.

Improve Appearance

Owning a good quality knife isn’t all about practicalities. Sometimes, you just want it to look the part and a false edge can be added to improve the aesthetics of the blade. Doing this makes it look more three-dimensional and certainly attracts attention.

What’s more, the false edge will break up any harsh lines and can give the blade a more military appearance.

That said, knifemakers typically reserve false edges for knives that are made with thicker steel as they don’t look as good on a thin blade and would also take away from its strength.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons that you might see a false edge on a knife. They’re normally found on clip point blades but it’s possible to add them to a variety of knife types. This could be to reduce weight and improve balance, to make it easier to use the knife in certain situations or simply to boost its aesthetic appeal.
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