Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Types of Knives - The Clasp Knife

The clasp knife is a traditional knive pattern that has its origins in Germany where they were commonly known as “folding butcher’s” knives. This also accounts for the characteristic blade shape of the clasp knife which was ideal for use in the butchering of animals. They were simple knives that usually had no bolsters and were made from easy to obtain handle materials such as wood or bone, all of which made these knives very inexpensive and quite common. This also contributed to the naturally curved shape of the handle on most clasp knives. These were a true “working man’s” knife that would be fairly easy to replace if lost.

Modern day clasp knifes are known by many different names.  The most familiar name is the “sodbuster” which was popularized by Case in the early 1960’s. It has also been called a rangebuster, dirtbuster and a bullnose depending upon the manufacturer. In some early Sear’s catalogs it was listed as a “horse castrating” knife. No matter what they were called, all are a basic clasp knive pattern. The traditional style of clasp knife had a handle that fit the hand well and made this knife easy to use all day. This was important as to prevent injuries when cutting meat all day in a butcher’s shop. The traditional blade design whose straight edge generally has a pronounced upward curve towards the point was ideal for this purpose.

While the term “sodbuster” probably originated with the Homestead Act in 1862, this may have been the origin of the term for this style of knife that was made popular by the Case Knife Company. The real popularity of this type of clasp knife was probably more a direct result of its notoriety as part of the kit carried by the legendary Davy Crockett.

This classic knife pattern survives today as an inexpensive and easy to use utility knife that can serve you well on a daily basis.

Got "Notschlachter"?

Staying above the water line!



Sixbears said...

Really enjoying your knife posts. I grew up with a knife in my pocket or on my hip, but didn't know all the names and history of the different blades.

riverwalker said...

To: Sixbears

The knives many people refer to as "sodbusters" are actually an updated version of the clasp knife.

The current nomenclature is more than likely the result of a very successful advertising campaign by Case.

Clasp knives were your basic "go to" blade when there was a cutting chore to be done.

Thanks Sixbears.


Anonymous said...

Where do you find all this knife information? I love it!

riverwalker said...

To: anon 11:50

Lots and lots of research combined with what I learned from my father and grandfather.



Anonymous said...

Yup, I refer to those patterns as Sodbusters as well. My favorite manufacturer are old German Eye (pre 70's), but present Case are very good too and reasonably priced. Most of the vaqueros I knew when I was a kid had a Sodbuster AND a stockman in one of their pants pockets, the Sodbuster for heavier chores, cutting feed sacks and such.

I own only one true clasp knife, made in New Zealand, the Peasant knife. Good steel and inexpensive to purchase when found on-line. Old Chinese pattern if I remember correctly.

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